Birding in North Queensland


Information on birding in Queensland, and recommended accommodation

Travelling from Mission Beach to Daintree Village via the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland will bring you some of the most rewarding birding in Australia. From the coast up onto the Atherton Tableland and back down to the coast will take you through a varied range of habitats with the possibility of seeing over 350 species of birds. This number includes all of the 13 endemic bird species of the “Wet Tropics” rainforests listed below.

  Lesser Sooty Owl Chowchilla
  Fernwren Bower’s Shrike-Thrush
  Atherton Scrubwren Pied Monarch
  Mountain Thornbill Victoria’s Riflebird
  Macleay’s Honeyeater Tooth-billed Bowerbird
  Bridled Honeyeater Golden Bowerbird
  Grey-headed Robin

In addition to these birds many species are distinct subspecies to the region, such as the Pale-yellow Robin and the montane form of the Grey Fantail.

The various areas within the North Queensland region have their special birding attractions. Mission Beach has the Southern Cassowary in the lowland rainforest, the Atherton Tableland has the Sarus Crane (May-December) in the wetlands and Golden Bowerbird in the upland rainforest, the Julatten area has Lesser Sooty Owl and Red-necked Crake which occur in other areas but are easier to see here as well as Blue-faced Parrot-Finch (Nov-April) on nearby Mt.Lewis and the Daintree Village on the Daintree River is famous for the Great-billed Heron and Little Kingfisher.

Just an hour's drive from Mission Beach is the Eubenangee Swamp National Park. Here you can find the stately Black-necked Stork (Jabiru). herons, egrets, spoonbills, ibis and ducks are seen in this area, along with the Crimson Finch and the Channel-billed Cuckoo during the wet season.

Many species are migratory and only occur in the region for part of the year. The Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher (late October-April) and the Metallic Starling (Aug-April) visit here to breed although in recent years a few Metallic Starling stay all year. Other migrants include Channel-billed Cuckoo, Common Koel, Dollarbird, Black-faced Monarch and Cicadabird who mainly visit from November to April.

October to early January is a good time for birding in Queensland to see the migratory species but any other time can be just as rewarding. Birding between January to April can be challenging as it is the “Wet Season” but a time when many species are breeding and become more obvious as they search for food.

To supplement any birding activities, this part of North Queensland is home to creatures such as the Platypus, Rock Wallaby, Tree Kangaroo, Green Tree Frog, Echidna, Bandicoot, Possum, Boyd's Forest Dragon, monitors, and the iridescent blue Ulysses butterfly (to name but a few).


Licuala Lodge - Main House viewed from the garden. Mission Beach accommodation

Licuala Lodge Mission Beach

Atherton Blue Gum - Recommended accommodation in the Atherton Tablelands
Atherton Blue Gum

Red Mill House Recommended accommodation in the Daintree area
Red Mill House Daintree

Kingfisher Park  Recommended accommodation in Julatten
Kingfisher Park Julatten

Summit Rainforest Retreat Recommended accomodation in the Cairns Highlands
Summit Retreat Cairns Highlands



Bridled Honeyeater King Parrot Pale Yellow Robin Victoria's Riflebird - Female Golden Bowerbird Female Cassowary
Click on the thumbnails above to enlarge

So how do you get to this part of the world ??

The most common way is to fly into Cairns, or possibly Townsville. The other alternative is to drive north along the east coast of Queensland as part of your birding adventure, starting perhaps as far south as Brisbane.

From Cairns you can either head North to Daintree Village or South to Mission Beach.


Cairns airport is situated north of the city. So as you leave the airport, turn right onto the Captain Cook Highway and simply follow the road all the way to Daintree Village. The journey is approx 1.5 hours. Daintree Village is situated on the banks of the river Daintree, and the recommended accommodation here is Red Mill House, run by Trish and Andrew, both enthusiastic birdwatchers who are passionate about the area. Please note that you DO NOT have to take the ferry crossing in order to get to the village.

From Daintree head south back through Mossman and then onto the Rex Range (signposted Mt Molloy and Mareeba) - about an hour's drive. The Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge is a haven for birders, photographers, artists and natural history enthusiasts. Lindsay and Keith will give you a warm welcome at the Lodge.

Just over an hour's drive south will get you into Atherton. Just 1.5 kms from the Main Street of Atherton is the Atherton Blue Gum, hosted by the friendly Helen and John - both very knowledgeable about the Tablelands area. If you prefer to stay at a luxury holiday house, then try the Summit Rainforest Retreat - also just a few minutes from the centre of Atherton.

From Atherton head south through Malanda and Millaa Millaa, along the Palmerston Highway to Innisfail, and then south along the Bruce Highway to Mission Beach. Mission Beach is an ideal base to go over to Dunk Island, and of course the place to see the regal Southern Cassowary. Sue and Mick at Licuala Lodge, will be glad to introduce you to Cassie and Charlie - their 'resident' cassowaries. The Eubenangee Swamp National Park is an hour's drive from Mission Beach.



Head south to Mission Beach, possibly via the Eubenangee Swamp National Park, and stay at Licuala Lodge. From there head north and west into the Atherton tablelands, where you can linger at the Atherton Blue Gum or Summit Rainforest Retreat. Head further north to Julatten, via the Mareeba Wetlands, and spend a few days at the Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge. Daintree Village is just an hour or so away - stay at the Red Mill House.

Head for Mission Beach just after the town of Tully, and visit Licuala Lodge. Head inland to the Atherton Tablelands and spend some time at the Atherton Blue Gum or Summit Rainforest Retreat. Continue north through Mareeba to Julatten and rest awhile at the Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge. Head on up to Daintree Village and spend a few nights at the Red Mill House.
From there it is 90 minutes or so to Cairns airport.

For further information on Birding in Queensland contact any of the following :-

John and Helen at Atherton Blue Gum

Keith and Lindsay at Kingfisher Park

Mick and Sue at Licuala Lodge

John and Helen at Summit Rainforest Retreat

Andrew and Trish at Red Mill House


Birding in Queensland - as good as it gets anywhere in Australia