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  • Photograph of Rainbow Pitta

    A lovely Rainbow Pitta at Howard Springs near Darwin by Francesco Veronesi.

    NORTHERN AUSTRALIA

    Best Wildlife in Northern Australia

    Mammals
    Agile and Short-eared Rock Wallabies, Antilopine and Black Wallaroos, Euro, Northern Brushtail and Rock Ringtail Possums, Northern Dibbler, Ghost Bat, and Black and Little Red Flying Foxes. Also a chance of Short-beaked Echidna, Sugar Glider, Dingo, Northern Brown Bandicoot and Sahul (Indo-Pacific) Humpback Dolphin.

    Birds
    Hooded Parrot, Gouldian Finch, Rainbow Pitta, Purple-crowned Fairywren, White-throated Grasswren, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Brolga Crane, Black-necked Stork, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Pied Heron, Rainbow Bee-eater, Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Chestnut Rail, other Northern Australia specialities such as Black-banded Fruit Dove, Chestnut-quilled Rock and Partridge Pigeons, Northern Rosella, Black-tailed Treecreeper, White-lined and Yellow-tinted Honeyeaters, Brown (Grey) and Mangrove Golden Whistlers, Sandstone Shrike Thrush, Broad-billed Flycatcher, Arafura (Rufous) Fantail, Buff-sided (White-browed) Robin, and Long-tailed and Masked Finches, as well as Black Swan, Magpie Goose, Radjah Shelduck, Plumed and Wandering Whistling Ducks, Green Pygmy Goose, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Hoary-headed Grebe, cormorants, Australian Darter, Intermediate Egret, Pacific and White-faced Herons, Rufous Night Heron, Australian and Straw-necked Ibises, Royal Spoonbill, Spotted and Swamp Harriers, Brahminy and Whistling Kites, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Brown and Grey Goshawks, Little Eagle, Brown Falcon, Australian and White-browed Crakes, Purple Swamphen, Bush Thick-knee, Masked Lapwing, Red-capped Plover, Black-fronted and Red-kneed Dotterels, White-headed Stilt, Comb-crested Jacana, mainly passage and wintering (mostly Oct-Mar) shorebirds such as Little Whimbrel, Far Eastern Curlew, Marsh, Sharp-tailed and Terek Sandpipers, Grey-tailed Tattler, Great Knot and Red-necked Stint, Australian Pratincole, Silver Gull, terns, Common Bronzewing, Crested Pigeon, Diamond Dove, Torresian Imperial Pigeon, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Galah, Cockatiel, Red-collared (Rainbow) and Varied Lorikeets, Port Lincoln and Red-winged Parrots, Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo, Pheasant Coucal, Barking Owl, Spotted Nightjar, Azure, Forest, Little, Red-backed and Sacred Kingfishers, Dollarbird, Great Bowerbird, Red-backed and Variegated Fairywrens, Red-headed Myzomela, Banded, Bar-breasted, Blue-faced, Dusky, Grey-fronted, Rufous-banded, Rufous-throated and White-gaped Honeyeaters, friarbirds, Yellow-throated Miner, Red-browed and Striated Pardalotes, gerygones, Weebill, Grey-crowned Babbler, woodswallows, butcherbirds including Black, Black-faced and White-bellied Cuckoo Shrikes, Cicadabird, Varied Sittella, Yellow Oriole, Green Figbird, Northern Fantail, Leaden, Paperbark (Restless) and Shining Flycatchers, Magpie-lark, Apostlebird, Mangrove Robin, Double-barred and Crimson Finches, and Chestnut-breasted Munia. Also a chance of Australian Pelican, Australian Bustard, Rufous Owl, Red Goshawk, White-quilled Rock Pigeon, White-breasted Whistler, Northern Shrike Tit, Star Finch, Pictorella and Yellow-rumped Munias, Great-billed Heron, Black-breasted Kite, Beach Thick-knee, Oriental Plover and Chestnut-backed Buttonquail.

    Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish
    Saltwater and Freshwater Crocodiles, and Frill-necked Lizard. Also a chance of Water Python, Green Tree Snake and Water Monitor.

    Best Sites for Wildlife in Northern Australia

    Best Times for Wildlife in Northern Australia

    September-October is the best time, especially October, by which time migrant birds from the north such as Little Whimbrel and Oriental Plover have usually arrived, just before the big rains of the wet season which usually lasts from November to April. The impressive concentrations of waterbirds in Kakadu usually occur in July though, in the middle of the dry season.

    Recommended Books etc. for Northern Australia

    Wildlife of Australia: Princeton Pocket Guides by I Campbell and S Woods. PUP, 2013.

    Wildlife of Australia by L Egerton and J Lochman. Allen and Unwin, 2009.

    Bradt Travel Guides: Australian Wildlife by S Martin. Bradt, 2010.

    Birds of Australia by K Simpson and N Day. PUP, 2010 (Eighth Edition).

    The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds by P Slater. New Holland, 2009 (Second Edition).

    The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia by G Pizzey et al. Harper Collins, 2008 (Eighth Edition).

    Finding Australian Birds by T Dolby and R Clarke. CSIRO, 2014.

    The Complete Guide to Finding the Birds of Australia by R Thomas et al. CSIRO, 2011 (Second Edition).

    Field Companion to the Mammals of Australia by S Van Dyck et al. New Holland, 2012.

    A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia by P Menkhorst and F Knight. OUP, 2010 (Third Edition).

    Field Guide to Australian Mammals by C Jones and S Parish. Steve Parish Publishing, 2006.

    The Complete Guide to Finding the Mammals of Australia by D Andrew. CSIRO, 2015.

    A Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia by S Wilson and G Swan. New Holland, 2013 (Fourth Edition).

    The Complete Field Guide to Butterflies of Australia by M Braby. CSIRO, 2004.


    Apps etc.

    The Michael Morcombe and David Stewart eGuide to the Birds of Australia.

    Pizzey and Knight Birds of Australia.

    Where to watch birds in Australasia & Oceania by N Wheatley. Helm, 1998.

    Don’t know which country/countries/regions to visit in Australasia? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them in the region, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.

    Trip Reports for Northern Australia

    Many trip reports, some for Northern Australia, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Northern Australia. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Northern Australia' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in Northern Australia

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.


    Accommodation in Northern Australia

    Some Organized Tours to Northern Australia

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who are running organized tours to Northern Australia in the next couple of years include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.