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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.

Please read details carefully before booking this tour. We value our guests' enjoyment and learning experiences, and it is disappointing when they book with us expecting something quite different. See below for itinerary.


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 email a pdf or give it to you on a USB stick to take instead but it helps to have the physical book with you during the tour for our dicsussions)

Please visit our SAFETY page

What you can expect on tour:

  • Deepen your understanding of what makes Australia so different to other world regions king parrot
  • Explore rainforest, eucalypt forest, wetlands and other  habitats
  • Get close enough to wild kangaroos, wallabies, rainforest birds and other species  for good photographs (no actual contact unless you opt to feed parrots at O'Reilly's)
  • Have a good probability of seeing koalas, platypus, kookaburras, wedgetailed eagles and other iconic Australian animals in the wild, and also  goannas (lace monitors), carpet pythons and other repties in warm months.
  • 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 wildlife as corridors are developed.
  • Visit the David Fleay Wildlife Park to see koalas, platypus and various endangered animals (bilbies, nail-tail wallabies ...) and northern species (crocodiles, tree kangaroos ,  cassowaries ...) in a well-managed captive sitation surrounded by native habitat, as well as some birds and retptiles that bring themselves in from the wild for a free meal (magpie geese, night-herons, whistling ducks eastern water dragons ...). The Park was started by the dedicated and talented zoologist David Fleay, not primarily as a tourist attraction but for scientific research and conservation breeding, with public admission both as fund-raising for  the care of the animals and as an education facility. It is now owned and run by the Department of Environment, Queensland Government.
  • Enjoy comfortable accommodation, and delicious and hearty meals.
  • Receive a paperback or electronc copy of  the book "Understanding Australia's WiIdlife," and a checksheet of wildlife we may see en route.

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 is also charged for a Gold Coast pickup.

CAMPING OPTION: We also no longer run the camping option on a regular basis.  If you do want a budget option, like the idea of camping between the forest and a lovely creek, are happy to erect the tent yourself (with assistance where needed) and don't mind having no shower or hot running water, let us know and we may be able to oblige as a custom tour. 

OTHER OPTIONS (additional cost): spend the second night by the rainofrest at O'Reilly's Ranforest Retreat or Binna Burra. Add an additiona day (see below).

Click here for Prices of our tours (in Australian dollars


Standard 3-day wildlife overview tour

(also see custom options)

Daisy Hill State Forest koala at Daisy Hillred-necked wallabyDAY ONE of the wildlife tour

Leaving the city, we head straight to Daisy Hill State Forest to experience the typical 'Aussie bushland' (eucalypt forests), 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 in summer months they will most likely have started 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.

Birdwatching at Eagleby Wetlands sea-eagle_Eagleby We'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 ...) as well as bushbirds (whistlers, shrike-thrushes, fairywrens, honeyeaters ...), grassland birds (cisticolas, grassbirds, pipits ...) and raptors (whistling kites, wite-bellied sea-eagles, ospreys ...) before heading on for a tasty and filling lunch at the Outpost in Canungra.

   superb fairy-wren black swans

Kangaroos, wallabies and waterbirds are the focus of our next search, in Kooralbyn. We usually see eastern grey kangaroos, whiptail wallabies (formerly know as pretty-face wallabies) and red-necked wallbies.

photographing kangaroos walking past roos Kooralbyn
  eastern grey kangaroo and joey  red-necked wallaby whiptail wallaby

We now check you in to your room at the Kooralbyn Valley Resort, and give you time to relax and refresh.
Each room has a bathroom with bath and shower, and a balcony from whch you may be able to watch birds and kangaroos.

Kooralbyn_Resort_entry Kooralbyn_Resort_palms Kooralbyn_Resort_dining

Kooralbyn_Resort_queenroom  Kooralbyn_Resort_bath  Kooralbyn_Resort_patio

platypus Entry to Wildlife Ecology CentreOn to the Araucaria property to visit the Scenic Rim Wildlife Ecology Centre, where we explore 500 million years of local and world history, the habitats of the Scenic Rim and of course the species resident in and visiting the Scenic Rim, including their ecology, behaviour and conservation issues. If time permits, we'll aso explore our butterfly trail and other nature trails.

After a cup of tea/coffee ad bscuits, we 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.

bobuck spotlighting After dark 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 lot: 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.

                            Bowerbird  Crimson rosella] fruitbat
red-necked pademelon  Albert's
                          lyrebird whipbird   

Alternative option (added expense): instead of returning to Kooralbyn we can spend the second night at O'Reilly's, which is a good option for those who would like to maximise the numbers of birds seen.

DAY THREE of the wildlife tour

After breakfast we travel to the southern Gold Coast to visit the David Fleay Wildlife Park, a well-run park originally started by zoologist Davd Fleay to breed rare species, conduct research and educate peope about our widlife, and now owned and run by National Parks of Queensland. Here 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.

Some animals  bring themselves in from the surrounding bush and make the park  their home, from eastern water dragons to pademelons (small wallabies), 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 (Tasmanian "tiger"). He was successful in breeding many rare species, and when iin failing health in his 80's he handed his precious property over to National Parks for a low sum. 

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

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. We have never yet failed to see kangaroos and at least one koala. Different birds visit during the year, largey according to seasonal migrations, rainfall and flowering seasons.

koala   Joey  Coombabah

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

                                                          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 Ecotours
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

OUR REGION: South-east Queensland and north-east New South Wales is one of Australia's "hotspots" of biodiversity, harbouring the third
maphighest 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.  .