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Thread: June-July trip to Eastern Australia (Sydney to Cairns) tips?

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    Default June-July trip to Eastern Australia (Sydney to Cairns) tips?

    Hi all,

    I've noticed there's rather little activity in the Australia / New Zealand portion of the forum, but as I'm going to visit Australia for the first time, I was hoping someone would have good suggestions for birding spots.
    I'll be there from mid-June to end of July, and plan on doing a road trip from Sydney to Cairns, but am mainly motivated by finding interesting birds and nature spots, so will happily change my plans if anyone has suggestions.

    Thanks in advance!!
    Arnon

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    Lifetime Member Ákos Lumnitzer's Avatar
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    What kind of birds are you after? Anything particular? Or do you just want to see whatever comes your way?
    There are hundreds, if not thousands, of spots between Sydney and Cairns. Perhaps a wish list of species will be a good start. :)

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    Thanks for the reply.
    As it will be my first time on the continent, I'm just excited to see the great variety of new species. I'm sure there are a great deal of good spots on the East Coast, but was hoping there were a few not-to-miss spots that I could add to my itinerary.
    In the mean time, I might as well start with that list...

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    Do you want to photograph birds or just see them?
    How much time do you want to spend around the Sydney Basin?
    How will you get around?

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    Would prefer to be photographing them. I've got at least three weeks in Sydney, and the thought was to rent an RV and go off on a two week drive up to Cairns and the area.

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    If you want to google a few spots I can suggest these from my own experience or from having heard good about them:

    Sydney south - Royal National Park (however, I have never looked for birds there, I am too lazy to drive for over an hour through Sydney traffic)

    Sydney west - Sydney Olympic Park - lots of waterbirds, herons, some raptors possible, there is a spot I love for flight photography here, especially in winter when the sun and wind line up late in the afternoons
    - Castlereagh Nature Reserve, good for woodland birds and is only 7 minutes from my place :)
    - Cattai and Mitchell Parks (National Parks) in the NW are good for a variety of woodland birds too
    - Blue Mountains west of Sydney are good in places at times, but birds move around a bit. Some beautiful waterfalls abound
    - Capertee Valley to the NW of Sydney just on the other side of the Blue Mountains. A really beautiful place with good birding sites
    - Hunter Wetlands near Newcastle about 100km north of Sydney is supposed to be good for photography
    - Barrington Tops National Park near the Hunter Valley (inland to the NW form Newcastle) is very pretty and has some good rainforest stuff
    - I reckon most coastal towns in NSW will have ospreys or sea eagles and whistling kites

    Bowra Station in western (south) Queensland is great I've read. You can google them and spend several days if you want.
    Good stuff in Bris-vegas (Aussie slang for Brisbane), such as Mount Coo-tha near the CBD, Mount Glorious to the west
    The Sunshine Coast is good too and all the way up to Cairns.
    I'd recommend Kingfisher Park Lodge near Cairns even though I have not been there, supposed to be really good.

    Where is Frank Harrison when you need him? :( He is a zoologist living in Cairns. You could try sending him a PM.

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    For some reason I could edit the previous post but not SAVE it.

    See here, I've added a couple of locations to Sydney

    If you want to google a few spots I can suggest these from my own experience or from having heard good about them:

    Sydney south - Royal National Park (however, I have never looked for birds there, I am too lazy to drive for over an hour through Sydney traffic)

    Sydney west - Sydney Olympic Park - lots of waterbirds, herons, some raptors possible, there is a spot I love for flight photography here, especially in winter when the sun and wind line up late in the afternoons
    - Castlereagh Nature Reserve, good for woodland birds and is only 7 minutes from my place :)
    - Cattai and Mitchell Parks (National Parks) in the NW are good for a variety of woodland birds too
    - Pitt Town Lagoon in Sydney's NW has had some nice ducks, but you need a floating hide to get close
    - Bushells Lagoon in the NW again can be a good spot with raptors or waterbirds, but you need to get dirty to get close

    - Blue Mountains west of Sydney are good in places at times, but birds move around a bit. Some beautiful waterfalls abound
    - Capertee Valley to the NW of Sydney just on the other side of the Blue Mountains. A really beautiful place with good birding sites
    - Hunter Wetlands near Newcastle about 100km north of Sydney is supposed to be good for photography
    - Barrington Tops National Park near the Hunter Valley (inland to the NW form Newcastle) is very pretty and has some good rainforest stuff
    - I reckon most coastal towns in NSW will have ospreys or sea eagles and whistling kites

    Bowra Station in western (south) Queensland is great I've read. You can google them and spend several days if you want.
    Good stuff in Bris-vegas (Aussie slang for Brisbane), such as Mount Coo-tha near the CBD, Mount Glorious to the west
    The Sunshine Coast is good too and all the way up to Cairns.
    I'd recommend Kingfisher Park Lodge near Cairns even though I have not been there, supposed to be really good.

    Where is Frank Harrison when you need him? :( He is a zoologist living in Cairns. You could try sending him a PM.

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    Also Lamington National Park on the Gold Coast (SE Queensland) hinterland. Great spot for tame bowerbirds, Satin and Regent. In fact, you should be able to get a shot of a male regent in flight as long as you bring sultanas, which they get fed at O'Rielly's guesthouse. I have seen a couple of known photographers take these shots. Yet, neither appears to have disclosed how they took the "incredible" photos of the hand fed birds. :)

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    Thank you so much Akos!! What wealth of information!
    I now have a great deal more to research, and it really looks like I won't have a moment rest.

    I bought some new gear especially for this trip - just needed an excuse :-) - so hopefully I'll be able to share some good pics once I'm back.

    Thanks again!

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    Let me know when you're in Sydney and we may be able to find an owl or two at night.

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    Would be a pleasure. Maybe I need to get some night gear as well. I've never done night photography, but have always wanted to try. I just got a new Cannon 7D MkII, and will be using it with my 300 f/4 and tc 2x. Can you recommend a reasonable external flash?

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    Attached Images Attached Images
     
    Your best bet would be a 600EX-RT, or whichever is the latest flash. That's the one I bought about a year ago. Also, buy a Better Beamer Flash Extender with at least one spare fresnel lens, as those are rather fragile.
    Night photography is easy. Just let the flash do the work. :D Longer lenses can still come in handy, but a 300/4L and 2x will work well enough. If you can afford to also buy the 1.4x, that would also be beneficial.

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    Amazing photo!
    I already got the 1.4x, just bought the 2x because the 7D MkII can autofocus at f/8, so thought I'd take advantage of it.
    I'll see if I can get my hands on some flash equipment. Thanks for the recommendations :-)

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