Days 1-2 Fly to Kununurra
- We meet our naturalist leader and head to Lakeside Resort, situated alongside the beautiful Lily Creek Lagoon and set amongst three acres of lush green garden, the perfect location to unwind from the long journey.
- Accommodation: Lakeside Resort, 2-nights on full board basis
- Today we explore the fascinating Lake Argyle, Australia's largest freshwater lake, where over 250 species of birds have been recorded– almost one third of all species found in Australia. We are on the lookout for the great diversity of water birds found here, especially two key highlights: yellow chat and white-quilled rock pigeon. Other species we may see include Australian reed-warbler, white-browed crake and pheasant coucal.
- The lake, with its surrounding mudflats and grasslands, has been identified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (IBA) because it supports an astonishing 150,000 waterbirds. Species include green pygmy-geese, Pacific black duck, black-necked stork and Australian bustard,
- In this area we also aim to see brolga, Northern rosella, silver-crowned friarbird, blue-faced honeyeater, and hopefully short-eared rock-wallaby and northern nail-tail wallaby.
- Today we drive to El Questro, via Parry Lagoon Nature Reserve, where we walk to a bird hide, hoping to see magpie geese, purple swamphen, brolga and pied heron. We then continue our short drive, looking out for birds on the way, and check into our resort at Emma Gorge. Late afternoon we join the Chamberlain Gorge cruise along the Pentecost River system, where our local guide will provide commentary on the amazing geology of the area, as well as interpret the aboriginal art, flora and fauna.
- Accommodation: Hotel in Emma Gorge, 2-nights on full board basis
- We explore Emma Gorge on foot, along the sandstone creek bed, where there are opportunities to take a swim in the tranquil surroundings. The area is good for raptors, such as the black kite, white bellied sea eagle, Torresian crow, but also some of the key species from Northern Australia such as the brolga, black necked stork or red tailed black cockatoo.
- In the late afternoon we enjoy sunset drinks over Pentecost River and Cockburn Ranges.
- Today we take a long drive to Drysdale River Station, with a few birdwatching stops en route. Along the Drysdale River, sightings of barking owl aren’t uncommon, and we may even be rewarded with views of the sought after purple-crowned wren, black-chinned honeyeater and crimson finch. On the Gibb River Road, sightings of masked finch and red goshawk may occur.
- Accommodation: Hotel in Drysdale River Station, 1-night on full board basis
- We head today for Mitchell Plateau, where one of our main target species is thw black grasswren. Sometimes they can be tricky, however it’s unusual not to find them. While we search, a number of other species should pop up, including Kimberley honeyeater, the region's second endemic bird species, recently split from white-lined honeyeater.
- One of the other main targets on this tour is the yellow eyed form of partridge pigeon race – this handsome pigeon has become quite rare in the Kimberley and the campground at Mitchell Plateau is one of the few accessible places where they can be seen.
- The walk to the Mitchell Falls and back is a great day’s birding and it’s not unusual to record up to 60 species.
- From Mitchell Plateau you have the option to take a helicopter flight over Mitchell Falls, a four-tiered waterfall, the second tallest in Australia. Being able to get a birds-eye view of this dramatic landscape, in the heart of the Kimberley, is a unique opportunity, and gives us a different perspective of the rugged beauty of the outback we are travelling into.
- We also visit Little Mertens Falls, which supports the largest known population of the western subspecies of the partridge pigeon, and contains most of the world’s population of black grasswrens and Kimberley honeyeaters. It also supports several species restricted to tropical savannah habitat, and is only one of two areas in Australia that retains a largely intact mammal fauna, with populations of golden bandicoots, golden-backed tree rats, scaly-tailed possums, monjons and Kimberley rock rats.
- Accommodation: Lodge in Mitchell Plateau, 2-nights on a full board basis
- After a long and adventurous drive back to Drysdale River Station, we head out in the late afternoon to look for nocturnal species in the vicinity of the station.
- We stop on the way at a swamp located to the west of the Kalumburu Road, which has fantastic birding with a great selection of water birds. Over 40 species have been recorded over the years and on occasions in the late dry season up to a total of 80 species of birds have been recorded here.
- Accommodation: Hotel in Drysdale River Station, 1-night on full board basis
- The next couple of days are spent exploring the different habitats around Mount Elizabeth Station, a wonderful birding location. Species to look out for include the legendary Gouldian finch, but also northern shrike tit, crested bellbird, masked woodswallow, and if we are lucky we may even see white-browed woodswallow. This is also a good place to see short-eared rock wallaby, black-tailed treecreeper and pallid cuckoo.
- During our stay we visit the beautiful Wunnumurra Gorge and its waterfall on foot, and explore the reedbeds and babbling pools of Hann River Gorge. Many birds are to be seen around the area, as well as a flying fox colony.
- Accommodation: Hotel at Mount Elizabeth Station, 2-nights on full board basis
- We drive to Derby via Gibb River Road, looking for brown falcon and varied lorikeet. The riverside trees here are usually dripping with yellow-tinted honeyeaters and the occasional grey-fronted honeyeater coming down to drink. Great bowerbird is the only representative of that family in the Kimberley and they are common and widespread. We can take a night drive and hopefully find owlet nightjar, spotted nightjar, southern boobook owl, tawny frogmouth and barn owl. Somewhere during our travels we should see Australian bustard, as the Kimberley is a stronghold for them; emu on the other hand, are a rarity and only very occasionally seen.
- Once in Derby, we explore the mangroves in the vicinity of the wharf, targeting mangrove golden whistler, broad-billed flycatcher, yellow white-eye and mangrove grey fantail. We may also observe small flocks of terek sandpipers and whimbrel on the mudflats and the odd eastern curlew. The famous Derby Sewerage Works is worth a visit where recently over 30 species have been recorded, as well as the Derby Jetty where we may find great-billed heron as well as a selection of overwintering waders.
- Accommodation: Hotel in Derby, 1-night on full board basis
- On the way to Broome we visit Taylor’s Lagoon, the Logue River and Willare Bridge on the Fitzroy River. These locations are usually good for raptors including the black falcon, little eagle, black-breasted buzzard and square-tailed kite. We also stop on the way at Munkayarra Wetland, just south of Derby – a very pretty spot with a great selection of water birds
- Accommodation: Ramada Eco Beach Resort, 2-nights on full board basis
- We stay in the city, ready for a grand finale of the tour. In the morning we have the option to go on a five hour whale-watching, or an Australian Snubfin Dolphin eco tour for three hours (additional charge), looking for humpback whale, sea birds, Australian snubfin dolphin, dwarf spinner dolphin, inshore common bottle-nosed dolphin and Indo-pacific humpback dolphin. We cruise the tranquil waters of the Kimberley while watching and listening to these amazing creatures of the deep
- In the afternoon we head to Roebuck Bay for spectacular views of shorebirds at the Broome Bird Sanctuary. The rich mudflats of Roebuck Bay are possibly the most bio-diverse that have been studied in the world, sustaining high densities of invertebrates. This nutrient-rich area attracts an abundance of birds, notably supporting more than one percent of the population of at least 22 wader species.
- We end the day with a coastal walk, searching for pelagic birds near the lodge. We are looking for roseate terns, brown boobies and lesser frigatebirds.
- After breakfast we transfer to the airport and board our overnight flight home.
Day 17 Arrive UK
All prices are per person and include:
- Services of the naturalist leader
- Guided activities
- All meals
Properties range from beautiful wilderness retreats to comfortable eco lodges, and the occasional small rustic hotel in more remote locations. Accommodations are usually located in the wilderness in outstanding locations. All rooms are en suite.
All meals are included.
Breakfast is generally continental type with cereal, fruit, yoghurt, tea and coffee. Lunch on travel or exploring days is usually a packed lunch at a chosen picnic spot, while dinner normally consists of several options for a main with a choice of either an appetiser or a dessert.
The best birding areas in Western Australia are in the Kimberley, in the far north of the state. Broome is outstanding for waders, summer migrants and mangrove species, while Kununurra is known for a number of finches, parrots, honeyeaters and water birds.
- Gouldian finch
- Black grasswren
- Kimberley honeyeater
- Purple-crowned fairy-wren
The Kimberley is home to nine species of kangaroos/wallabies. The most commonly seen in the region are agile wallabies (also called Kimberley Wallaby) or antelopine wallabies. The smaller rock wallaby species is usually spotted while hiking rocky slopes or in the cliffs of the gorges. There are a number of ‘rats’ which are in fact marsupials – but being of a similar small size and often nocturnal, they are difficult to spot.
Bandicoots and quolls are still fairly common, though not very visible, and although echidnas (spiny anteaters) can be found all over the Kimberley, they are also not seen all that often.
- Golden bandicoot
- Scaly-tailed possum
- Agile wallaby
- Kimberley rock rat
Reptiles and amphibians
The most charismatic reptile is the saltwater crocodile. The most common out of the nine species of lizard in the Kimberley is the large Gould's or sand goanna that you often see crossing roads. A great variety of snakes live in the dry and rocky environment, with the most common being the highly venomous king brown or mulga snake, the huge olive python and the beautiful black-headed rock-python.
- Rough-scaled python
- Saltwater crocodile
- Sand goanna
- Green tree frog
The Kimberley landscape is best known via the publicity given to the sandstone gorges of Bungle-Bungle, although these lie on the southern border of the Kimberley-proper.
The area is an undulating savannah landscape, grazed by cattle and sheep and cut through by red-sandstone gorges, themselves often harbouring patches of denser woodland and permanent water.
Between gorges, lakes, and billabongs, there will be a few explorations by boat, including birdwatching cruises on Lake Argyle and in Chamberlain Gorge, and whale-watching along Broome’s coastline.
Photographic opportunities on this trip are good to excellent, with water birds and crocodiles, together with great scenery.
Some forest trails can be steep in parts, or slippery after recent rain, however we will take these slowly. Walks through the gorges on sandstone can be challenging at times, depending on weather conditions. However, being the end of the dry season, they should all be easily accessible.
Price includes return scheduled flights London – Kununurra / Broome – London.
Ground transportation is by 4 wheel drive vehicle, with private driver.
The Kimberley is within the Tropics and experiences two main seasons: a wet and a dry, each lasting six months. September is the end of the dry season.Temperatures are warm from 21-37C, while humidity levels are low. There will be a few opportunities for swimming in natural pools to cool down.