v THE NATURAL HISTORY OF AUSTRALIA: Tasmania, Perth and the West, Blue Mountains, The Great Barrier Reef and Queensland Outback - ITINERARY - Mark Smith Nature Tours
Mark Smith Nature Tours
Natural History   •   Birdwatching   •   Flora   •   Wildlife   •   Travel Photography
 

THE NATURAL HISTORY OF AUSTRALIA

Led by Mark Smith & Australian Naturalists

October 28 - November 20, 2017

Australian bird collage

Leadership

Mark Smith has led numerous Audubon and Nature Conservancy international tours during the past twenty years. Since his studies in Biology at Oregon State university, Mark has worked as a researcher and educator for a variety of organizations, including the National Science Foundation, the Public Schools, and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. His wide travels have carried him many times to Central America, Asia, Europe, and Africa, and 10 times to Australia. Regional naturalists will join us to co-lead in their areas of expertise.

emu

Jon Starks has co-led Australia tours with Mark Smith for 25 years. A professional ornithologist, Jon does research for Birds Australia, having conducted dozens of projects on endangered birds, and other wildlife. His detailed knowledge of Aussie economics, politics and history are remarkable and he will be presenting us to several interesting lectures. Jon will be guiding us for 7 days, from Melbourne through Adelaide.

Accommodations and Transport

koala

Throughout the tour, accommodations will be in comfortable lodges, hotels, and a Bed & Breakfast, all with attached bathrooms. In each of six regions we will travel by 12 passenger mini-van.

Includes double occupancy accommodations in hotels and lodges, all group land and boat transport, entrance fees, and 80% of meals—the remainder paid individually are inexpensive, in towns, airports or on Qantas domestic flights.

A deposit of $1500 is required to reserve one of the 8 available spaces.

$1500 Initial reservation deposit
$7175 Final Payment (due 60 days before departure)
$8675 Ground Fare Total
($1750) (Single supplement)

Small Group Supplement
If the group is 4 or fewer a reasonable supplement will be added, depending on group size


Air Fare
$2500 approximately, from Seattle and Portland via LA to Sydney on Quantas. This includes 5 flights in Australia.

Note: The Aussie Dollar value fluctuates widely in relation to the US Dollar. This price was determined in December 2015, but may go up or down depending on currency value changes.

 

kangaroo

Mark’s travel agent is Pam Davis of Willamette Travel
Reach Pam at pamd@wittravel.com,  503-224-0180
Pam will know of local lodgings and extensions in the area.
Mark can also suggest Portland hotels.

Please make the deposit and final payment payable to Mark Smith Nature Tours and send to:

Mark Smith
PO Box 3831
Portland, OR 97208

Phone: 503-475-1978
Email: msmithnaturetours@gmail.com

Cancellations and Refunds

Any cancellation made more than 90 days prior to departure receives a full refund. Cancellations for which replacements are not found are subject to the following fees: $1500 if cancellation is made between 90 and 30 days prior to departure date, and $3000 if cancellation is made fewer than 30 days before departure. We recommend that participants consider trip cancellation insurance, which can be bought through Willamette International Travel.

ITINERARY

(Meals paid separately by participants are indicated in bold.)

Days 1 - 2 October 28 - 29 US to Sydney

Travelers depart San Francisco to Sydney at 11:25 PM on Qantas. We cross the international dateline and lose a day that we'll make up on our way home.

Day 3 October 30 Sydney

Our flight arrives in Sydney at 8:00 AM. After airport formalities, we go immediately to our hotel in the historic harborside Rocks District, overlooking the Opera House, where we spend two nights. After a rest we begin our exploration of beautiful Sydney. We'll visit the splendid Opera House, ferry across the harbor, and view historic buildings and the botanical gardens.

Day 4 October 31 Area Parks

We will begin early for a grand day exploring spectacular Royal National Park near Sydney. Short walks will provide an excellent introduction to Australian birds and plants. Forests of varied eucalyptus trees are also home to such beautiful plants as banksias, paperbarks, tea trees and tree ferns. Kookaburras, crimson rosellas, whipbirds, cockatoos, honeyeaters and fairy wrens are common, as well as diverse waterbirds. We return this evening to Sydney. If persons wish to spend this day further investigating Sydney, that's fine.

Day 5 November 1 Sydney to Melbourne

This morning at 10:00 AM we fly to Melbourne, arriving at 11:30. From our downtown hotel in
Melbourne we can walk out and explore the city; trams (streetcars) run nearby. This afternoon we'll have a city tour featuring some of Melbourne's Victorian buildings and history then continue on a birdwatching outing to Werribee, where waterfowl like black swans, endemic ducks, and migratory shorebirds crowd the marshes and lagoons. Individual lunch and dinner.

Day 6 November 2 Phillip Island and Little Penguins

This morning we depart by bus for Phillip Island, where we'll search for koalas and seabirds. The island supports a large colony of little penguins, and we'll watch the flocks emerge from the surf at dusk and march to their breeding burrows. Dinner at Cowes on the Island and a late return home to Melbourne. Individual lunch.

Day 7 November 3 Ballarat and the Grampians
bird

We depart this morning by bus for the Grampian Mountains National Park. En route we'll pass through gold-mining towns like Ballarat which date from the mid-1800s. This afternoon we will walk on scenic trails in these ancient sandstone faulted mountains. The Grampians are justly famous for the color and variety of the fall wildflower bloom. In eucalyptus forests and treefern gullies we'll find orchids, lilies, grevillias and more, some of them endemic to these rugged ranges. Common woodland birds include honeyeaters, yellow robins, gang-gang cockatoos and scrub wrens. Koalas and kangaroos can also be found. Individual lunch.

Day 8 November 4 The Grampians to Rainbow
tree

We start with an early morning nature walk through the sculpted rocks and carved gorges of the Grampians, and then we depart for Rainbow to the northwest in an arid region of wheat and sheep farms. We dine tonight in the agricultural town of Rainbow at the local pub-restaurant where we have a traditional "counter tea." We spend two nights at the Pot-of-Gold Motel in Rainbow. Individual lunch.

Day 9 November 5 Wyperfeld National Park

We leave early for a full day in Wyperfeld National Park, home to emus, kangaroos, the malleefowl and fantastic parrots. Beautiful trails pass through the forests of river red gums and around old lake beds. Before clearing for farms, this entire region was covered by mallee, a type of dwarf eucalyptus forest maintained by natural fires. For dinner we again have "counter tea" at the local pub-restaurant in Rainbow.

Day 10 November 6 Rainbow to Adelaide

This morning we pass through wheat and sheep country and cross the Murray River on a five-hour drive to Adelaide, where we'll do a short tour in the late afternoon. Our hotel is in the center of town, and we can walk to restaurants along the mall for dinner. Individual lunch and dinner.

Day 11 November 7 Adelaide to Alice Springs, Simpson's Gap

We fly to Alice Springs this morning at 10:40PM, arriving at 11:45 AM. From our central Alice hotel we can wander in the town. At 3:00 PM we drive out by bus to explore and birdwatch the spectacular flash flood gaps of the arid MacDonnell Range. Rock wallabies and large lizards can be seen and the desert birds include trillers, cockatiels, budgies and zebra finches. Ephemeral creeks have worn gorges in the ancient MacDonnells, and the pools in the dry creeks attract wildlife for miles. Dinner on the town. Individual lunch and dinner.

Day 12 November 8 Alice to Ayer's Rock (Uluru)

We depart this morning on the five-hour desert drive to Uluru. At the edge of Alice Springs we stop at the sewage ponds to see stilts and avocets, hoary-headed grebes and whistling ducks. We'll have a lunch en route, and check in at our fine hotel in the government developed tourist town of Yulara, where all visitors to Uluru stay. In the evening we take a walk at the base of the rock, investigating aboriginal cave paintings and desert ecology. At sunset we watch the changing colors of the rock. Individual lunch.

Day 13 November 9 Uluru and the Olgas (Katatjuta)

Twenty miles away from Ayer's Rock rise the Olgas, similar sedimentary outcrops with a maze of gaps and canyons between. We'll leave early for a long morning of beautiful hikes amongst these sacred red rocks. Wildflowers will depend on recent rains. The story of many desert creatures can be read from their tracks in the orange dunes. We return to the hotel for lunch, and have a relaxed afternoon for swimming and viewing the visitor center. Our last afternoon another walk around Ayer's Rock; those that like may climb the Rock. Tonight an optional desert nightwalk. Individual lunch.

tree
Day 14 November 10 Ayers to Alice, fly Darwin

We drive back to Alice Springs today with interesting stops en route. This afternoon we will visit the Telegraph museum at the original "Springs," celebrating the settlement of the Outback. Varied wildlife gather at this pleasant park. At 5:15 PM we fly to Darwin, arriving at 7:15 PM, where we settle into our hotel for two nights. Individual lunch and dinner.

Day 15 November 11 Darwin, Litchfield National Park

Darwin is on a peninsula surrounded by warm seas. An hour south we visit the varied forests, cliffs, and gorges of the vast Litchfield National Park. In the late afternoon we visit mangrove and mudflat natural areas teeming with land and waterbirds. Individual dinner.

Day 16 November 12 Darwin to Kakadu National Park

We depart early for Fogg Dam, one of the finest waterbird areas in Australia. Jacanas, spoonbills, various herons, storks, pelicans, swans and geese throng the marshes, and many are easily photographed. The nearby forests support pittas, cuckoos and bee-eaters. We spend the night at South Alligator in Kakadu National Park, with excellent woodland and plains habitats surrounding our lodge.

Day 17 November 13 Kakadu

Early birdwalk and leisurely morning and lunch at the hotel (with pool) in South Alligator. In mid-afternoon we move deeper into the park, investigating the billabongs (oxbow lakes) and monsoon forests of this vast park. This evening we have a walk to the Aboriginal cave paintings of Ubiri. Sunset over the marshes, and then we drive south in the dark to dinner at a lodge farther south in the park village of Cooinda. Individual lunch.

Day 18 November 14 Kakadu to Darwin, fly Cairns
croc

At 6:30 AM we'll board a boat to cruise the Yellow Waters area in search of giant saltwater crocodiles, goannas (monitor lizards) and spectacular waterbirds like black-necked storks and sea eagles. The boats approach closely, and photo opportunities are excellent. After a 9:00 AM breakfast, we depart for Darwin, stopping en route to see other wildlife areas of Kakadu. We arrive in Darwin in the late afternoon. Our flight to Cairns departs at 8:00 PM. Individual dinner at the airport.

Day 19 November 15 Darwin to Cairns to Green Island
turtle

A relaxed morning, then a walk along Cairns famous esplanade, watching thousands of Asian shorebirds. We then board a large, stable catamaran for the 40-minute voyage 15 miles offshore to Green Island, a sandy caye on the Great Barrier Reef. Our resort lodge is deluxe and surrounded by lush vegetation. We have this afternoon and tomorrow morning to walk the trails and beaches and swim. The corals and fishes of the Great Barrier Reef comprise the world's most diverse marine ecosystem. The white coral beaches of Green Island are the perfect setting to practice and apply our snorkeling skills. Other activities available include an underwater observatory, glass bottom boats, a semi-submersible (you sit below the water's surface with glass on both sides), a pool and a museum of South Pacific Islands and crocodiles. The leader can teach you how to snorkel.

Day 20 November 16 Reef to the Atherton Tablelands

After a morning of snorkeling and walks viewing diverse terns, shorebirds and pigeons, we ferry to the mainland on our scenic journey inland to Yungaburra. We ascend the Coast Range and then cross the fertile 3,000 foot Atherton Tablelands, the rich farmland broken by rainforest preserves, where we walk in search of spotted catbird, Victoria's riflebird (a bird of paradise) and myriad colorful honeyeaters. We settle for two nights at Chambers Rainforest Lodge, hosted to traditional Aussie hospitality. At dusk we'll wait for a platypus at a frequent watery haunt.

Day 21 November 17 The Atherton Tablelands

We depart early to The Crater, a volcanic formation with surrounding forest trails where we'll search for exotic specialties like golden bowerbird, green catbird, chowchilla and king parrot. We return to Yungaburra for lunch and continue exploring local forest lakes and parks.

Day 22 November 18 Rainforest to Daintree River

An early rainforest walk before we descend from the Tablelands and drive along the Queensland coast, old haunt of Captain Cook, to Daintree for the evening beside the Daintree River.

Day 23 November 19 Daintree to Cairns

Early, we enjoy a boat trip to see wildlife like Great-billed herons along the Daintree River, then walks through the rainforest. We'll have free time in the nearby town of Port Douglas, with many attractive shops. In Cairns we have our final banquet.

Day 24 November 20 Cairns to Sydney to US

Our flight departs Cairns around 9:05AM and connects in Sydney, at 3:00PM, to the US, where we arrive in San Francisco at 9:05AM the same day. Australia is magnificent!

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