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Australian Wildlife Overview Tour


Click here for a detailed itinerary

The emphasis of this tour is enhancing your understanding of Australia's wildlife - its uniqueness, ecology, behaviour, evolutionary relationships & comparisons with other world regions - as well as seeking examples of wildlife both great and small in a variety of habitats - the kind of tour we'd really appreciate when traveling to new places.


lace monitor (goanna)

little red flying fox

Silver gull on Dreamtime Beach

              WIldlife book

Wildlife book given to each family, couple or individual
guest to use along the way
and take home at the end
of the tour (if traveling light,
we can give you a pdf on a USB stick to take instead)

Please visit our SAFETY page


  • Deepen your understanding of what makes Australia so different to other world regions, through your take-home book or flashdrive on Australia's wildlife groups, our Wildlife Ecology Centre and commentary and discussions throughout our tour
  • Explore rainforest, eucalypt forest, wetlands and other  habitats seeking mammals, birds, reptiles, butterflies and other wildlife and absorbing the atmosphere of the ecosystems they are part of
  • Get close to wild kangaroos, wallabies, rainforest birds and other species for some great observation and  photo opportunities 
  • See koalas (in good captive settings and usually also in the wild), platypus (often in wild, especially in spring, usually possible in captivity), kookaburras (almost always), wedgetailed eagles (quite often), goannas (quite often in warm seasons), carpet pythons (quite often in warm seasons) and other iconic Australian animals as well as others you may never have heard of. 
  • Listen for the unforgettable calls of kookaburras, whipbirds and catbirds. If lucky, spot a lyrebird in the forest or hear its amazing mimicry, watch a bowerbird decorating his bower, see a logrunner do sideways kicks impossible for most birds or a brush turkey constructing his enormous nest ... many other possibilities.
  • Spotlight for possums, owls, frogs and other nocturnal creatures, some of which will form part of a citizen science project through Wildlife Queensland, monitoring changes in wildlfe as corridors are developed.
  • Visit a wildlife park to see various endangered animals (bilbies, nail-tail wallabies ...) and northern species (crocodiles, tree kangaroos ,  cassowaries ...) as well as some birds that bring themselves in from the wild for a free meal (magpie geese, night-herons, whistling ducks ...)
  • Enjoy comfortable accommodation, and delicious and hearty meals
  • We have had to make some changes to this tour. One of our previous accommodation venues (Cougal Park) has closed down because of the proprietor's ill-health, and the other (Binna Burra) was largely destroyed by fire (the surviving units are few in number, but we may include them in special tours at times). Ronda has written a personal account of her own memories of Binna Burra here, and advice for helping wildlife after fire here. We also no longer run the camping option on a regular basis.  We initially offered this for travellers on a restricted budget if prepared to erect the tents themselves and not expect luxury, but have found it too expensive and tiring for us if guests choose it as a cheap option but then want us to erect the tents and provide items not available at the (primitive) campsite. If you do want a budget option, are happy to set up camp yourself and don't mind having no shower or hot running water, let us know and we may still be able to oblige.

Tour departs 9.00am, usually on a Wednesday (BOOKINGS ESSENTIAL!)
from your city or south-side accommodation or a south-side railway station (other by arrangement with sufficient advance notice: may incur extra cost)
, arriving back around 6.00-7.00pm on FridayNo tours Christmas - New Year or at Easter (traffic is crazy and venues are closed or crowded                                                                                                                                                                                                              

We can, for an additional $55 per group, pick up from the airport, but it is better to arrive in Brisbane at least the night before and get a good sleep. Our itinerary is designed to give you the best chance of seeing a variety of wildlife, and it is a pity if you are so tired by mid-day after an international flight that you miss out on seeing the  animals we won't see on the other two days. A
n additional $55 per group also for a Gold Coast pickup.

Click here for Prices of our tours (in Australian dollars)

OUR REGION: South-east Queensland and north-east New South Wales is one of Australia's "hotspots" of biodiversity, harbouring the third highest diversity of species in Australia, of our most famous species  such as kangaroos, koalas, platypus, wedge-tailed eagle, lyrebird, bowerbirds, laughing kookaburra, carpet python and goanna. It is also has wonderful scenery, many different habitat types, and a good climate throughout the year. We seek many animals in the wild and also introduce you to some rare and threatened species in a wildlife park run by National Parks.

NOTE: We cannot guarantee any particular species on any particular day, but we always see a variety, and there are some  species we would be very surprised to miss out on.  .

Longer Tours
4-day option: for a seaside experience, add on a day-trip to Coochiemudlo Island (other possibilities for a customised tour)
11 or
(if including Coochie) 12-day option: to really get a feel for Australia's diversity of wildlfe and ecosystems, add on an 8-day excursion to the outback (not in summer)
NOTE: we need plenty of advance notice for these options

Standard 3-day wildlife overview tour

                        Hill State ForestDaisy Hill Koala Centre koala at Daisy Hillred-necked wallabyDAY ONE of the wildlife tour

Leaving the city, we head straight to the typical 'Aussie bushland' (eucalypt forests) of the Daisy Hill State Forest. Eucalypts are grown throughout the world nowadays but native eucalypt forests are found only in Australia and (to a much lesser extent (New Guinea.  Here you are introduced to some of the important families of bushland plants and what they mean to wildlife, as well as viewing some local birds, arboreal and terrestrial termite mounds,  and - if we are in luck - koalas. 
In cool weather, we may also see wallabies grazing on the grassy stretches (but they will soon start their day's siesta under the shelter of the forest).

For a close-up look at koalas
(no touching), we walk through a large enclosure in the Daisy Hill Koala Information Centre, learn a bit about the behaviour, anatomy, ecology and conservation problems of these famous marsupials, and also see a hive of small, stingless native bees.

                      WetlandsWe'll then visit the Eagleby Wetlands to look for waterbirds, many of which are nomadic and unpredictable, but can include grebes, pink-eared ducks, other ducks, black swans, pelicans, darters, swamphens, magpie goose, black-necked stork, red-necked avocet, spoonbills, egrets, herons, ibis, stilts, or others) as well as bushbirds, grassland birds and raptors before heading on for a tasty and filling lunch.
birdwatching Eagleby sea-eagle_Eagleby superb fairy-wren

Kangaroos, wallabies and waterbirds are the focus of our next search, in Kooralbyn (an Aboriginal name for a local snake). No matter if it's raining - the kangaroos don't seem to mind much and we can usually get closer to them and to the red-necked and whip-tail wallabies anyway by staying in the vehicle and quietly cruising nearer (some excellent photo opportunities here). If we do leave the vehicle we either watch them from afar, or gradually approach by walking not directly towards them but as though we're going straight past, and backing off if they show any signs of nervousness.

photographing kangaroos walking past roos Kooralbyn
  eastern grey kangaroo and joey  jacana whiptail wallaby
We also settle you into your room at the Kooralbyn Valley resort

Kooralbyn_Resort_queenroom Kooralbyn_Resort_bath Kooralbyn_Resort_patio

platypusOn to the Araucaria property to visit the Scenic Rim Wildlife Ecology Centre, have a cup of tea/coffee and wait by the creek just before dusk in the hope of seeing wild platypus.  While waiting, we often see turtles, catfish, cuckoodoves, honeyeaters, kingfishers and other wildlife. The platypus are more predictable in the latter half of the year, when they are breeding and don't stray far from their nests: they are around throughout the year, but we have far less luck finding them January to June.
bobuckspotlighting We head off looking for possums, owls and other nocturnal wildlife.  Some nights we don't see much at all, other times we see and hear quite a variety: possibilities include red-necked wallaby, red-necked pademelon, koala, common brushtail possum, mountain brushtail possum, greater glider, squirrel glider, sugar glider, bandicoot, fruitbats, barn owl, boobook owl, sooty owl, tawny frog-mouth, owlet nightjar, carpet python and (on warm wet evenings) various frogs. 
Usually at least part of our nocturnal search will be along a transect forming part of a study (through Wildlife Queensland, of which Ronda is chair of the Scenic Rim branch). Our guests thus become citizen scientists helping to study wildlife species occupying areas planted as wildlife corridors and for habitat enhancement, and changes over time.
Dinner time and venue will vary with season (and thus time of sunset), weather and the wishes of our guests, but will usually be at Kooralbyn or the Rathdowney  Pub, both of which have excellent chefs. Vegetarian, gluten-free etc. are catered for at all meals, also special allergen-free meals, religious restrictions etc. if we are notified in advance.


DAY TWO of the wildlife tour

Rise early if you wish to do some birdwatching or roo-watching in the  grounds of the Kooralbyn Valley resort.

After breakfast we head to O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat at Lamington National Park, where we spend the morning exploring the World Heritage rainforests and seeking forest birds.  Those who wish to can participate in another citizen scence project, watching and if possible photographing birds that disperse the seeds of rainforest plants.

Birds we typically see in the rainforest include brush turkey, crimson rosella, king parrot, logrunner, three species of scrubwren, satin bowerbird (and sometimes regent bowerbird), brown thornbill, brown gerygone, eastern yellow robin, pied currawong and eastern whipbird.  With some luck we may also see wompoo fruitdove, topknot pigeon, Albert's lyrebird (the world's best mimic), noisy pitta, paradise riflebird (the only bird of paradise outside of the tropics), rose robin and many others.

Pademelons (small wallabies) often make an appearance in the forest or on the lawn of  the neighbouring campground. In warmer months we may also see carpet pythons, land mullets and other reptiles, often basking on rocks in the sun. We also often see whiptail and red-necked wallabies in the more open habitats along the way to and from O'Reilly's.

Depending on the wishes of our guests, we will either return to Kooralbyn in time for dinner (with the option of further  nocturnal searches to follow) or dine at the Canungra Hotel so we can watch a colony of noisy flying foxes (fruitbats)
take to the skies at dusk in search of flowers and fruits.

Regent Bowerbird  Rosella fruitbat
red-necked pademelon lyrebird whipbird   

DAY THREE of the wildlife tour

After breakfast we travel to the southern Gold Coast to visit the David Fleay Wildlife Park, where we see some of Queensland's outback species (e.g. bilby, hopping mice) and tropical northern species  (cassowary, crocodiles, tree kangaroo) as well as some local species that can be difficult to find in the wild (e.g. platypus, greater glider.

It is one of the few places we can watch the platypus swimming under water, using its rubbery bill to seek vibrations and electrical impulses from its prey.

There are also animals that bring themselves in from the surrounding bush and make the park  their home, from eastern water dragons to nankeen night herons and magpie geese.

The Wildlife Park  was started by the zoologist David Fleay in the 1950's.  David (who was also a founding member of Wildlife Queenlandwas the first to ever breed the platypus in captivity, and one of the last people to interact with a living thylacine. He was successful in breeding many rare species and when in his 80's he handed his precious property over to National Parks for a low sum. 

                        at David Fleay Wildlife Park mahogany glider cassowary at David Felay
                        Wildlife Park brolgas courting 
  croc0dile_in_water eastern
                        water dragon nankeen
                        night heron

After lunch we may have time for a short beach walk, but our main destination will be Coombabah, where we enjoy an a  leisurely walk through eucalypt forest and tea-tree wetland, seeking birds, koala, wallabies and large mobs of kangaroos, before returning to Brisbane.


              koala   Joey

                                                          waterbirdsWith small group sizes (usual maximum is ten), this is not a hurried herding of tourists on and off buses, into souvenir shops, etc. Our emphasis is on spending time in a variety of scenic natural habitats at the times of day that maximise our chances of seeing native mammals, birds, reptiles and other wildlife.You will have ample opportunity to tell us your interests, and although we can't fulfil every wish (for instance, when seeking wild animals , we can't guarantee  particular species, and we can't ask them to change their daily schedules to fit with conventional human mealtimes) we will try to make your days as enjoyable and fulfilling as possible. You can let us know any time you want to stop for photos or anything else of interest, and ask as many questions as you like - if we don't know the answers we will suggest ways of finding out.

We uphold the ideals of ecotourism: environmentally sound, quality information, nature-based and supporting local communities. All our tours  have achieved advanced eco-accreditation

Araucara Ecotou
are members of Ecotourism Australia, Wildlife Tourism Australia (Ronda is chair), Queensland Tourism Industry Council, Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland (also called Wildlife Queensland: Ronda is  chair of the Scenic Rim branch), Destination Scenic Rim, and Brisbane Marketing