View Full Version : Dinosaur Way and the Daintree

Jay Gould
03-18-2010, 02:41 PM
Hi All

We are heading up to the NE for six weeks - 1 July to mid-August - and I have alread studied Tony's .pdf and bookmarked his links. :)

All other suggestions for great birding/general photog opps greatly appreciated.

Last two weeks of August will again find us at the Gympie Country Music Muster - a hoot not to be missed!:D

Simon Bennett
03-19-2010, 03:45 AM

Not overly familiar with N Queensland, but did spend a week at Blandensburg National Park near Winton last year. Has interesting inland birds, like Spinifex Pigeon. You can camp at Bough Shed Hole. Good birds also at Lark Quarry which has the outstanding dinosaur stampede footprints (take a 24-105).

I'll be in SWQ around that time myself, firstly at Bowra, near Cunnamulla, then not sure where after that, depends on what's hot for birds after all the rain they have had.


Tony Whitehead
03-24-2010, 01:17 AM
Have fun, Jay. Most envious of your planned trip. Say Hi to Chris Dahlberg from me.

Lance Peters
03-31-2010, 06:12 PM
Hi Jay - Ditto Tony - say Hi to Chris from me also.
You wont need super telephoto's with Chris - 300MM was more than enough when I was up there - he really does get you that close. Plan on more than 1 trip - you are going to love it.
Kingfisher Park at Julatten is well worth a few days stay if you have the time - spent quite a few days walking around the Orchard there - check out their website for further info - Yes they do have a camping ground for Caravans/Motorhomes. Often a large variety of species within the grounds.
Mt Lewis (Julatten) is also worth a look - depending on the condition of the track (1200m - High Altitude species).

If you are thinking of a daytrip out from Cairns - Michaelmas Kay is amazing (nesting seabirds) limited access - not allowed on the island as such beach is roped off - whenI was there nesting brown boobys within 5 feet of the roped off area.


frank harrison
04-05-2010, 10:50 PM
Hi Jay
Thanks for you PM

As a zoologist living near Cairns, & to prevent me repeating myself, you largely you need look no further than the info given by Tony on his web page
http://www.wildlight.co.nz/<wbr>Articles&Tips/files/Bird%<wbr>20Photography%20in%20Cairns.<wbr>pdf (http://www.wildlight.co.nz/Articles&Tips/files/Bird%20Photography%20in%20Cairns.pdf)
& Lance in this thread, as this is the advice that I gave to them before their own trips to the region. Great to know that my recommendations provided them both with the highligts of their visits.

There are some good spots around but they are ephemeral & always in a state of flux so combined with our recent atypical weather patterns I cannot say what will be good at the time of your trip. Send me a PM closer to the time old son. By the same token give your festival booking priority, there you can guarantee a good time with specific long range dates.

One error on Lances part I'd better address, you are allowed on the island when you arrive at Michaelmas Cay, but you will indeed be restricted to the sandy beach, not wander through all the nesting birds in the middle. So don't worry, you will not be confined to snapping from a boat, I think that this is probably what he meant to say.

On the beach you will get heaps of shooting opportunity with birds very close to you (Red-footed Boobies are there at press). If its a sunny day you will need a flash with heavy fill (attach a diffuser) for grounded birds as the sun is fairly high when you arrive. If its overcast this will give you beautiful exposures without flash. For birds in flight the circumstances will be reversed.

There are 3 boats that visit the cay, I highly suggest you choose the Seastar. This arrives well before the bigger tourist boats with their crowds & you get longer on the island before moving on to more spectacular coral reefs for you snorkeling.

Seastar is also kind to birdie folk in that they allow spotters & picture people to land on the beach first, at least 20 minutes before the scuba enthusiasts do. Also if there is time the skipper will circumnavigate the island (the only boat to do so). Here you will be restricted to shooting from the boat.

Certainly you would be a mug to miss Chris Dahlbergs Daintree river trip, here is his website which is full of good things:- http://www.daintreerivertours.com.au/

Do ask him about the TV special we both did some years re the Great-billed Heron. Half way through we were surrounded by a terrifying electrical storm & there we were, all exposed in his tinny with lightning flashing all around. We really thought we would be history & the tumultuous thunder didn't calm our nerves any!

To make things worse when the program was aired the narrator wrapped up by saying "Frank & Chris assure us that this bird has never been seen since 1822" Where do they get such half baked drivel from? We reckon he was talking about the time. :D

Anyhow I digress. Do not fall into the trap of tourist spiel which proclaims Cairns as a wildlife paradise.
It used to be, but nowdays all the best shots are developed upon with high rise & huge beach developments, so anything local is opportunistic, the tablelands offer better. That said chances can arise around Cairns. The Esplanade will bring in shorebirds but you are restricted these days to an elevated boardwalk so are shooting down at the birds.

Lance is blessed to live in Victoria, the state with the most common sense wildlife photography rules in Australia, I do so envy him. North Queensland is probably the worst place. Health & safety concerns are well over the top. The council is also closing off many superb sites & seem to be in the mind set that photographers are either terrorists, paedophiles or paparazzi earning mega bucks from every snapshot. There have been plenty of problems recently.

On the Esplanade you may be pounced upon by over zealous security who threaten to evict you or demand you pay $600 for a week long permit if you are a professional. The criteria the security coves seem to use to distinguish a professional photographer from an amateur is the use of any tripod! :(
Any excuse & a medium lens will not cut any ice with them. If you set up around the lagoon they will be on you like a pack of jackals but further north along the security presence is less & you should be OK.

On a brighter note the council have just opened a wetland reserve called Cattana Wetlands about 15 minutes drive north of the city. Its rather immature at press (vegetation wise) & not sure what you will find in Aug but its well worth following up.

Indeed make sure you spend a few days at Kingfisher Park Julatten. Keith who runs K'fisher Park has his finger on the pulse & will fill you in with places, maps etc closer to the time. He is a friend of mine so email him nearer you arrival & tell him I recommended you & he may also tip you off about anything 'special' that may be around at the time. He is sympathetic to a photographers needs as he used to run a camera store.

Certainly visit Tyto Wetlands when you pass through Ingham. It is much more established than Cattana. Be aware that for photography it can range from wonderful to woeful but often the former. Visit this site & contact Tony for more on the pulse info via the comments option on his blog.

Hope its of some help Jay
Cheers chap
ps In return am I OK for free legal representation from you? :D

frank harrison
05-28-2014, 12:36 AM
Was that a "Yes" Jay? :bg3:

An important update. As I have already posted in another thread 'Bird Photography in Cairns"....

It grieves me to reveal that the early Daintree River cruises are no more, sadly Chris (The Original & Best) Dahlberg has retired. Good luck to him, the man was a true legend, not a leg-end. :bg3:

However the good news is that there are now 2 similar boat tours to pick from!

Chris sold the business to Murray Hunt @ http://daintreerivertours.com.au/
Murray is a zoologist so perhaps has the edge on eco/birding matters.

The second boat is skippered by Ian "Sauce" Worcester @ http://www.daintreeriverwildwatch.com.au/HOME.3.0.html
Sauce is a keen photographer himself so may have the edge here.

The important thing is that whoever you go with, they are both excellent guides who will provide a memorable trip. Plus where in the past, if Chris was fully booked that was your lot, now you have a fall back option.

Even better, if you are like my rich mate Tony & can afford multiple trips, you can try, compare & contrast both tours.

Cheers Chums!

Jay Gould
05-28-2014, 12:51 AM
Hi, Thanks for the update; current in the USA - will be back in Oz in 2016. Cheers,

Tony Whitehead
01-07-2015, 03:25 AM
updated link for the Bird Photography in Cairns free PDF http://www.tonywhitehead.com/wildlight/web-links/my-articles/

Hi Jay
Thanks for you PM

As a zoologist living near Cairns, & to prevent me repeating myself, you largely you need look no further than the info given by Tony on his web page
http://www.wildlight.co.nz/<wbr>Articles&Tips/files/Bird%<wbr>20Photography%20in%20Cairns.<wbr>pdf (http://www.wildlight.co.nz/Articles&Tips/files/Bird%20Photography%20in%20Cairns.pdf)