Travel

10 of Australia's best birdwatching spots

The Black cockatoo is endangered due to habitat loss, competition from other birds for nesting sites and declining food supplies.

From the tropical paradises of the Daintree to the rugged beauty of the Blue Mountains, Australia's birdwatching destinations are as diverse as the feathered species they nurture. Carolyn Tate explores a mosaic of avian wonders for those ready to embrace Australia's best birdwatching.

By Carolyn Tate

The benefits of birdwatching are almost endless – it improves mood and mental health, it keeps you active, it stimulates your sense, and it creates moments of wonder. And Australia's diverse landscapes are a haven for birdwatching enthusiasts, with around 850 species found across the country – 45% of those not being found anywhere else. Amazing!

If you want to combine your love for nature with camping or caravanning, here are some of our favourite campsites across the country where you can immerse yourself in the world of birdwatching.

Don't forget to pack your binoculars, a good (Australian) field guide, and a camera to capture the avian wonders you encounter along the way.

1. Hattah-Kulkyne National Park, Victoria

This national park is an essential birdwatching destination, with diverse habitats, wetlands, and woodlands that attract a variety of bird species. This is known as the best place in the country to see the Mallee emu-wren and the Striated grass wren. Both camping and caravan options are available, with unpowered sites that allow you to connect with nature.

Also look for: Mallee fowl, Major Mitchell's cockatoos, and a range of parrots and honeyeaters.

More info: Parks Victoria

Emu wrens have 6 emu-like feathers on their tail.

2. Mungo National Park, New South Wales

Mungo National Park is an ancient place of unique desert landscapes and salt pans, providing a habitat for various outback bird species. Camping is available within the park, with both powered and unpowered sites.

Emus are flightless birds, and the males sit on the nest and raise chicks (which are sometimes not even biologically related to them),

Look for: Emus, Wedge-tailed eagles, desert parrots, Mallee fowl, and flocks of colourful budgerigars. If you’re camping, look out for the very social Apostlebird (also known as the ‘bludger bird’ because they’re always on the lookout for scraps).

More info: NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service

The scientific name for Budgerigar is Melopsittacus undulatus. Melopsittacus is Greek for ‘melodious parrot’ and undulatus is Latin for ‘undulated’, referring to their scalloped wing patterns.

3. Carnarvon Gorge, Queensland

Carnarvon Gorge in the central highlands of Queensland boasts lush vegetation and towering sandstone cliffs, which create a haven for birdlife. Camping is available, with both powered and unpowered sites.

Look for: King parrots, Kookaburras, Azure kingfisher, and Satin bowerbirds.

More info: Queensland Parks and Forests

4. Eungella National Park, Queensland

Eungella is a tiny area known for its lush rainforests, but it’s home to the highest density of bird species in Queensland – with around 256 species recorded. Campers can find powered and unpowered sites within the park.

Look for: Eungella honeyeaters (endemic to the area), quail and Button-quail, Tooth-billed bowerbirds, and Orange-footed scrub fowl.

More info: Queensland Parks and Forests

5. Dryandra Woodland, Western Australia

Just a two-hour drive west of Perth, Dryandra Woodland is a biodiversity hotspot, offering excellent birdwatching opportunities in a woodland setting. Camping is available within the woodland, with both powered and unpowered sites.

Look for: Western rosellas, Red-capped parrots, and Splendid fairy-wrens. (Non-bird bonus: this area is known for its many numbats too.)

More info: Explore Parks WA

6. Purnululu National Park, Western Australia

Purnululu's iconic Bungle Bungle Range is not only visually stunning; it’s also a birdwatching paradise. The trails can be challenging here, but for the more adventurous, they can be worth it. Try Picaninny Creek Walk (hard) and Purnululu National Park 4WD track (moderate) if you’re keen. Camping is available near the park, with both powered and unpowered sites.

Look for: Gouldian finches, Bowerbirds, Blue-winged kookaburra, and Rainbow bee-eaters.

More info: Explore Parks WA

7. Freycinet National Park, Tasmania

With its lake, forest and ocean landscapes, Freycinet is a wonderful spot to find 147 different bird species. Yellow-tailed black cockatoos, Green rosellas, White bellied sea eagles, Scarlet robins, Shining bronze cuckoos and Golden whistlers are just some of the colourful species to be found in the area. Camping is available within the park, with both powered and unpowered sites.

Look for: Yellow-tailed black cockatoos, Green rosellas, White bellied sea eagles, Scarlet robins, Shining bronze cuckoos and Golden whistlers.

More info: Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service

8. Lincoln National Park, South Australia

South Australia's rugged coast rewards birdwatchers with an array of species to spot.

The Eyre Pensinsula is home to over 270 bird species, and this coastal park offers a variety of habitats, attracting both land and sea birds. Camping is available within the park, with both powered and unpowered sites.

Look for: Look for White-bellied sea eagles, ospreys, and Bush stone-curlews.

More info: National Parks and Wildlife Service SA

9. Nitmiluk National Park, Northern Territory

Nitmiluk's rugged landscapes, gorges, and wetlands create an enticing environment for bird enthusiasts. Check All Trails for the best birdwatching trails to walk in the area, including Edith Falls Plunge Pools (easy), Katherine Gorge and Baruwei Loop (easy), and Jatbula Trail (more challenging). Camping is available within the park, with both powered and unpowered sites.

Look for: Keep an eye out for Crimson finches, Northern rosellas, and Comb-crested jacanas.

More info: NT Government Parks and Reserves

10. Daintree National Park, Queensland

The Daintree is like stepping into another world, where you can find more than 430 different bird species, including more than half of Australia's endemic bird life. The birdwatching is best in the wet season, when it's humid and likely to rain. The hours between dawn and 11am are when birds are most active, with the early morning singing being the most amazing. Birds dwell on the ground, the mid-canopy and in the treetops.

The Olive-backed sunbird is one bird you can find in the rainforest of the Daintree.

Look for: The Southern cassowary is the most prized spot, though it's best to keep your distance from their large claws, beak and head. Other beauties include Macleay’s honeyeater, Pied monarch, Lesser sooty owl, and Victoria’s riflebird. Also, look close to the ground to see if you can spot any of the glowing fungi that help light the forest in the dark.

The Southern cassowary is the third heaviest bird on the planet and has a unique helmet-like casque atop its head. This charismatic and somewhat enigmatic bird plays a crucial role in its ecosystem as a seed disperser in the rainforest.

More info: Discover the Daintree

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