This post is brought to you in collaboration with Australian Wildlife Journeys. But our opinions remain our own and we will never compromise the integrity of our responsible tourism mission.
The continent of Australia (also known as “The Land Below”) is known for its wildlife.
Dangerous critters like crocodiles and venomous snakes get a lot of press, but there are also cuddly critters like kangaroos, koalas and quokkas.
But let’s not forget that the continent is also home to an incredible array of native and endemic Australian birds that should excite ornithologists from all over the world.
With habitats ranging from lush rainforests and temperate riverine ecosystems to ultra-arid inland deserts, Australia’s birds are diverse and fairly easy to find.
Many common Australian birds are exotic to visitors. Everyday native birds of Australia include pink cockatoos, laughing kookaburras and rainbow lorikeets. Water birds such as the Australian ibis and the Australian wader are also interesting to see.
The Australian Bird Guide has several familiar names, including 11 species of Australian owls and the Australian bush turkey. There are over 20 different types of Australian pigeons, some of which are incredibly colorful!
In other words, birdwatching in Australia can be a rich experience for the bird enthusiast and a highly rewarding trip for the serious birdwatcher with a checklist to complete.
Read our guide to 7 incredible birdwatching and Australian wildlife trips, created in collaboration with Australian Wildlife Travelsa team of local eco-tour operators.
Guide to bird watching in Australia
- Bremer Bay
- Eyre Peninsula
- Far North Queensland
- Kakadu National Park
- Mungo National Park
- Murray River
- Tasmania Mount Field National Park/Cradle Mountain National Park
1. bird watching in Bremer Bay
Bremer Bay, which contains the underwater Bremer Canyon, has the distinction of being one of the places in Australia where visitors can regularly encounter killer whales (also known as killer whales).
Many other aquatic mammals can be seen there, including three species of dolphins, three species of whales, Australian sea lions and New Zealand fur seals.
The area is also a great spot for pelagic bird watching in Australia. You can often see native birds such as petrel and big-winged petrel.
In terms of migratory seabirds, there are a number of albatross species, including the yellow-nosed, black-browed, shy, Amsterdam, and Chatham albatrosses.
Experienced guides can help with Australian bird identification problems by recognizing behavior specific to each bird species in order to identify them.
For example, petrels tend to walk on the surface of the water as if walking on it, earning them the nickname “Jesus Birds”.
Statutes of naturalists offers an 8-hour orca expedition to Bremer Canyon, which includes large mammals as well as seabirds.
Each tour is led by an accredited marine biologist and killer whales are spotted 95% of the time!
2. bird watching in Eyre Peninsula
When you think of coastal Australia, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of great white sharks and humpback whales (not to mention the Great Barrier Reef).
But let’s not forget the hundreds of Australian bird species that can be seen here, especially on the South Eyre Peninsula.
The Eyre Peninsula is Australia’s seafood hub with prize catches such as green lipped abalone, scallops, shrimp and oysters. There are also big fish and marine mammals here, as well as some 270 species of Australian birds enjoying all this aquatic bounty.
The bushes, coastal dunes, sandbanks, salt marshes and cliffs of the Eyre Peninsula are home to seabirds such as the osprey, white-bellied sea eagle, as well as various other predators. There are also plenty of ducks, cormorants and oystercatchers.
Further inland, birds such as parrots, blue-breasted wrens, emus, western yellow robins and others find their homes in the bush and rocks.
Safari on the coast of Australia runs 3-day and 2-day tours known as the South Air Peninsula Birdwatching charter.
These tours also include Mikkira Station, home to numerous Australian birds and wild koalas, as well as a trip to Coffin Bay for fresh oysters and a wildlife cruise.
3. bird watching in Far North Queensland
Far North Queensland is home to the world’s oldest rainforest, which is protected as the Daintree Rainforest National Park.
It also has some serious natural beauty in the Atherton Tablelands, Crater Lakes and Cape Tribulation.
Australia’s major birds in this region include fruit doves, bowerbills, kingfishers, rifled birds, parrots and cockatoos. The area is also home to the endangered southern cassowary.
Besides the birds North Queensland – overall winner to observe wildlife. It has the largest variety of mammals on the continent, not to mention saltwater crocodiles, Boyd’s forest dragons, crazy frogs and Ulysses blue butterflies.
FNQ Nature Tours offers a 10-hour tropical wetland bird-watching expedition to Cape York General Reserves.
It has about 5,000 acres of lakes, swamps, streams and old growth savannah forests with over 450 bird species, more than half of Australia’s total bird species!
4. bird watching in Kakadu National Park
The UNESCO-listed Kakadu National Park is located in the Northern Territory of Australia and is the second largest of all the national parks in Australia.
These parklands are still mostly Aboriginal and are home to 19 different clan groups. The region has been inhabited by Aboriginal peoples for over 65,000 years.
The park supports an impressive concentration of over 280 bird species in estuaries, wetlands, forests and rainforests. It is home to about a third of Australia’s bird species.
Iconic species you may see during your visit include magpie geese, black-necked storks, brolgs, wandering whistling ducks, azure and woodland kingfishers, white-bellied sea eagles, and more.
Rare species such as the endangered Gouldian finch, red goshawk, partridge dove, hooded parakeet, and rainbow pitta are other attractions worth looking out for in the park.
Lords Kakadu and Safari in Arnhem Land offers 3-day and 2-day private charters for its Kakadu bird watching tour. He explores floodplains, paperbark swamps, savanna forests, monsoon rainforests, and riverine mangroves for birdwatching.
5. bird watching in Mungo National Park
Mungo National Park is part of the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Region.
The area was home to the famous Lady Mungo and Mungo Man, whose 42,000 year old remains were found on the shores of Lake Mungo some 50 years ago and are the oldest human remains ever found in Australia.
Part of New South Wales, this huge piece of the Australian outback is teeming with kangaroos and emus, Australia’s national bird.
The red sand dunes, the ecosystems surrounding the Murray and Darling Rivers, and the arid landscapes around Lake Mungo are home to a special collection of wildlife and birds.
Pink cockatoos in the area can steal the show as they move in huge flocks. There are also several types of parrots, including the mulga, red-rumped, blue-rumped, and ring-necked mullies.
The endemic chestnut babbler is another of the bird’s attractions. Meanwhile, predators such as the wedge-tailed eagle keep an eye out for the lizards basking on the rocks below.
Echidna Walk Nature Tours conducts 4-day and 3-day private tours of the Mungo Outback through the Murray-Darling River and Lake Mungo Ecosystems.
Travelers also get the chance to follow Australian birds and other wildlife by recording appointments for Citizen Science’s wildlife conservation efforts.
6. bird watching in Murray River
At over 2,500 kilometers (1,550+ miles), the Murray River is the longest in Australia.
It runs through the southeastern part of the continent, starting in the Australian Alps and forming the border between Victoria and New South Wales.
The river’s ecosystems are centered around floodplains and riverine forests, and the area is virtually teeming with wildlife.
Endemic Australian animals such as wallabies, wombats, kangaroos, koalas and echidnas live along the banks of the river.
As is the case with most waterways, birds also love the Murray River. Australian pelicans, black swans and royal spoonbills are excellent waterfowl. Other bird species seen here include parrots, honey badgers, rainbow bee-eaters, and kites.
Murray River routes has an amazing Murray River Safari that allows visitors to explore the river and see its wildlife. Tours include backwater canoeing, guided walks, an outback trip and a pontoon cruise.
The hub of the journey is a luxury houseboat where guests can enjoy upscale dining and local Australian wines.
7. bird watching in Tasmania (Mount Field National Park/Cradle Mountain National Park)
For serious bird watchers, tours of Australia should include a trip to Tasmania.
The relief (turning to alpine) and the climate (there is an ice cap!) change here so dramatically that more than 60% of the animals of this area are not found anywhere else in the world!
Of the more than 260 bird species on the island, 12 Australian birds are endemic to Tasmania.
This includes three types of honey badgers: Scrubtite, Tasmanian Bush Wren and Tasmanian Turnbill. The Tasmanian native chicken is a wild version of domesticated chickens, and the green rosella is a unique species of Tasmanian parrot.
Tasmania also has a denser wetland collection than any other Australian state.
This means that you can see a lot of waterfowl here, including pied magpies, white-faced herons, Pacific black ducks and others. Along the coastline, sightings of black-browed albatrosses and even penguins are possible.
Mount Field is home to 11 unique Tasmanian bird species. The Wild West tour includes a trip to Cradle Mountain National Park, as well as an introduction to the Alpine region and the west coast.
Birdwatching in these wild areas offers the opportunity to see hundreds of Australian bird species, so you’ll have plenty of time with your binoculars! — Jonathon Engels, image via Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours