Australia Monday 17th. July to 24th. August, 2000

To see a list of birds seen on this trip click here

To see a list of mammals seen on this trip click here


Dr. Kevin Elsby; Mrs. Christine Elsby; Sian Elsby, aged 15; Iain Elsby aged 12. Dr. Chris Barnes; Mrs. Shirley Barnes; Nicola Barnes aged 10; Sarah Barnes aged 7.


Saturday 15th. July 2000.

Depart Heathrow Airport, London, 22:30 hours local time, on Singapore Airlines, via Singapore. Four hours in Singapore.

Sunday 16th. July 2000.

In flight.

Monday 17th. July 2000. Day 1.

Arrive Brisbane 06:30 local time. Met at airport by Chris Barnes. Driven to town. Day spent ‘at leisure’, resting from the journey. Night at Carlsdene Court Motel – good rooms, friendly staff. Only complaint – it’s on a busy road. Dry, sunny, warm. (15-180C).

Tuesday 18th. July 2000. Day 2.

Leave Brisbane about midday for journey south to Sydney, overnight at Iluka. Route:- Southport (lunch stop), Coolangatta, Ballina. Accommodation in an awful caravan – freezing cold, damp, musty smell. Major consolation was that the caravan park was adjacent to some excellent rain forest, in Iluka. Dry and sunny, but very cold at night.

Wednesday 19th. July 2000. Day 3.

Dawn birding with Chris, then leave Iluka to Forster, via Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Nambucca Heads (lunch stop) and Taree. Evening spotlighting in the forest near Forster. Accommodation overnight in 8 berth cabin (Smuggler’s Cove Holiday Village – Big 4). $120 per night. (2.5$ Aus. = £1). Cold morning, warmer later, sunny and dry.

Thursday 20th. July 2000. Day 4.

Forster to Sydney, via Hawks Nest / Tea Gardens / Seal Rocks. Night in GlebeYouth Hostel, Sydney – two four bed family rooms. Handy for the buses – just outside – a ten to fifteen minute ride to Circular Quay. Quite a busy hostel, friendly staff. Car parking outside the front door. Lots of cheap restaurants nearby – but they close early! Dry, sunny and warm.

Friday 21st. July 2000. Day 5.

Sydney. Taranga Zoo from Circular Quay. Very entertaining. Fantastic view back to the harbour from the zoo itself. Night in Glebe Youth Hostel. Dry, sunny and warm, but quite windy in the afternoon.

Saturday 22nd. July 2000. Day 6.

Pelagic. An amazing day! Chris Barnes and I left Youth Hostel at 05:00 to drive the 80km south to Woollongong to catch our pre-booked pelagic. Got there in plenty of time, but missed the turning off the freeway to get to the port. Took the next turn off, to double back, only to find that there was then no right turn off the freeway to get into Woollongong. We were now heading away from Woollongong back towards Sydney, in the (by now) rush hour traffic. Eventually, after about 30 nerve racking minutes, we came to a junction which allowed us to turn around. This time we didn’t miss the right turn off and arrived at the quay at 07:10, five minutes before the boat left port!

All day spent at sea- up to 28 miles due east of Woollongong. Clear blue sky. Mild. In spite of this, there was a significant swell (2-3m) which became more noticeable after the engine was cut when we reached past the edge of the continental shelf. Photography was accordingly quite difficult with the boat rocking violently at times. Return to Woollongong 17:15 hours.

Although exhausted, after returning to Sydney, rushed back out with Iain Elsby to see Sydney Swans take on Melbourne Kangaroos at Sydney Cricket Ground, at Aussie Rules Football. Excellent entertainment, made all the better by the friendly atmosphere. A family ticket for four people was cheaper than three singles. (The home side won!)

Night in Glebe Youth Hostel. Dry, sunny and warm.

Sunday 23rd. July 2000. Day 7.

Sydney – Opera House, Botanical Gardens, Manly Ferry, Darling Harbour. Night in Glebe Youth Hostel. Dry, sunny and warm (15-17oC).

Monday 24th. July 2000. Day 8.

Royal National Park south of Sydney with Chris Barnes at dawn, leaving Youth Hostel 06:00, returning 11:15. Rest of day in Sydney, sightseeing / shopping. Dry, sunny, warm. Night Glebe Youth Hostel.

Tuesday 25th. July 2000. Day 9.

To Blue Mountains. Left Sydney mid morning after packing. Route via Wentworth Falls, the Three Sisters and Echo Point. Night in a (cold) cottage in Blackheath. Dry in the day but very windy indeed at the Three Sisters. Rain (with some sleet and snow) in evening which carried on into the night.

Wednesday 26th. July 2000. Day 10.

To Katoomba Scenic Railway, then Evans Lookout. This included a trip down the “steepest railway in the world”, which stopped less than half way down a near vertical face of rock, and left me clinging on to the train at the bottom, resulting in a futile (but nonetheless very brave) effort to see a Superb Lyrebird. From here, drove on to Jenolan Caves for lunchtime / early afternoon (along the most precipitous road I can remember ever being on!). I didn’t go in the caves, the others did. I decided to have a walk around the car park area while they were inside, and met them about 1 ½  hours later. After lunch, drive on to Glen Davis in the Capertee Valley, staying in “Goollooinboin”, a detached cottage near to the farm house (wonderfully named “Didgerbringabottle” . A wonderful setting, miles from the nearest small town, completely surrounded by the walls of sandstone forming the valley. Total peace and relaxation (only problem was it was very cold at night – overnight frost – and needed to keep the log burner well provided with fuel 24 hours a day!) Aus. $85 per night for the cottage – a real bargain. Dry in early part of day, but rain by Jenolan, becoming drier and clearer later. Night in Goollooinboin.

Thursday 27th. July 2000. Day 11.

Glen Davis and Glen Alice in Capertee Valley – early morning with Chris Barnes. Crystal clear dry, cold morning, warming up later. Evening spotlighting on the farm property. Night Goollooinboin.

Friday 28th. July 2000. Day 12.

Around Glen Davis, with midday trip to Lithgow for food provisions. Clear beautiful blue sky. Warm daytime, colder night. Evening spotlighting around the farm. Night in Goollooinboin.

Saturday 29th. July 2000. Day 13.

To Boggabilla, via Glen Alice, Rylstone, Mudgee, Gulgong, Dunedoo, Coonabarabran, Narrabri and Moree. Lunch en route. Clear, dry sunny but cool. Night at Boggabilla Family Motel, Aus. $77 per family room per night.

Sunday 30th. July 2000. Day 14.

Boggabilla to Bunya Mountains, via Goondiwindi, Moonie, Dalby. Clear, warm in day, but cooler in evening in the mountains. Stayed at “Currawong” – Swiss style chalet, 8-10 berth. Log fire. VERY comfortable – TV, showers, wallabies (and ticks). Aus. $130 per night for the chalet – excellent value. Night in “Currawong”, Bunya Mountains.

Monday 31st. July 2000. Day 15.

Dawn walk in nearby rainforest with Chris Barnes. Later generally around the site of the chalet. Dry, cool. Night in “Currawong”, Bunya Mountains.

Tuesday 1st. August 2000. Day 16.

Dawn rainforest walk, Bunya Mountains, then drive over east side of the mountains with Chris Barnes. Cloudy, mild with occasional light rain. Night in “Currawong”, Bunya Mountains.

Wednesday 2nd. August 2000. Day 17.

To Bundaberg (Chris and Shirley Barnes’ house), via Kingarory, Wondai, Murgon, Goomeri, Tansey, Biggerden and Childers. Night Bundaberg.

Thursday 3rd. August 2000. Day 18.

Dawn birding in Bundaberg – Baldwin Swamp, Port and Park. Rest of day in Bundaberg. Dry, sunny and very warm. Night in Budaberg.

Friday 4th. August 2000. Day 19.

Dawn birding in Bundaberg with Chris Barnes then beaches around Bundaberg en famille. Dry, sunny, warm. Night in Bundaberg.

Saturday 5th. August 2000. Day 20.

Dawn birding in Bundaberg, Baldwin Swamp, later shopping / sightseeing in Bundaberg. Dry, sunny and warm . Night in Bundaberg.

Sunday 6th. August 2000. Day 21.

To Cordalla State Forest, near Bundaberg,  with Chris Barnes and Eric Zillmann. Later, a round of golf at Bundaberg Golf Course, with John Wakefield (ex-pat doctor colleague of Chris Barnes) and three of his Aussie Solicitor chums. Great fun. Early cloud / breeze. Later, sunny, warm. Night in Bundaberg.

Monday 7th. August 2000. Day 22.

Trip with Chris Barnes to Boonooroo and Cooloola Park. Leave Bundaberg 11:00, return 01:40 the following morning! Four-wheel drive adventure completely “off the beaten track”, miles from anywhere IN THE DARK. Chris managed to get us bogged down at one point. I wasn’t worried for myself, but was concerned that Chris (Elsby) and Shirley wouldn’t know where we were or that we were OK – they were beyond the range of Chris’s mobile phone he had with us!

However, it was great fun, looking back on it now in the warmth and comfort of my lounge at home as I’m writing this. Can’t say that’s how I felt about it at the time, but we did see some very good birds. Some showers during the day, but mild.

Night (half of it anyway) in Bundaberg. The girls were needless to say pacing the floor (mentally at least if not actually) when we did eventually return home.

Tuesday 8th. August 2000. Day 23.

Road day. Drive from Budaberg north to Mackay, en route to Cairns. Depart Bundaberg 14:00, arrive Mackay 21:00. Long day in the car (the four-wheel drive). Quiet roads. Some long distances between towns, but none of us really got bored I think. Stopped a couple of times at picnic areas at the side of the road for a break. Chris and Shirley Barnes not with us – had a funeral to attend in Brisbane – they’ll catch up with us in Cairns later! Night in cheap motel (name not remembered or recorded). Dry, hot, sunny.

Wednesday 9th. August 2000. Day 24.

Mackay to Cairns. Another full day of driving. Difficult to take in birds when you’re driving such a long way on single-carriageway roads, whilst dodging the on-coming road trains. Dry, sunny, hot. More places to stop in this part of the journey than yesterday I think. Night in Queens Court Motel, Cairns. Depart Mackay 08:00, arrive Cairns 18:45. 1,400 km in two days.

Thursday 10th. August 2000. Day 25.

Dawn walk on my own through the Cairns Centenial Lakes boardwalk. Took me forever to even find it it seemed, not helped by being misdirected by one person out walking his dog! Afternoon with the family on Cairns esplanade / shopping / sightseeing. Dry, sunny and hot. Later, moved north to Port Douglas (after being erroneously sent to a ‘rainforest’ accommodation in Cape Tribulation). This meant we had to drive back south from Cape Tribulation to meet the Daintree River ferry before it stopped for the night, and eventually turned up at the Port Douglas accommodation – brand new, all mod cons. Very comfortable and relaxing and only a gentle walk to the shops. An excellent restaurant “the Iguana” – ate two consecutive nights there, it was so good! Night in Port Douglas.

Friday 11th. August 2000. Day 26.

Quiet birding day, on the beach in Port Douglas. Dry, sunny, warm with a cooling sea breeze. Night in Port Douglas.

Saturday 12th. August 2000. Day 27.

Karunda via train up and chair-lift down. A couple of hours in Kuranda then move to Cairns and meet back up with Chris and Shirley Barnes. Very windy – especially in the chair lift which, for me at least, was rather unnerving! Then, onto Paradise Park camp site, Clifton Beach, north of Cairns.

Sunday 13th. August 2000. Day 28.

Pre-dawn start with Chris Barnes for guided trip to Daintree River by Chris Dahlberg. Excellent value. Aus. $35 per person, 2 ½ hours. Very knowledgeable guide for local and hard to get birds. Then, return to camp site, via Yorkey’s Knob. After lunch, to Lake Morris road with Chris Barnes, followed by the Centenial Lakes boardwalk, finally the Esplanade at Cairns. Dry, sunny and warm. Night at Clifton Beach.

Monday 14th. August 2000. Day 29.

Trip to Agincourt Reef, part of the Great Barrier Reef, by Quicksilver. Depart Port Douglas 10:00, return 16:30. Glass bottom boat / submarine. Pontoon, lunch, snorkelling and (for Sian on her 16th. birthday) a 1 hour SCUBA dive to 40 feet. Quite breezy. Antiemetics needed – ginger in my case! Night in Clifton Beach.

Tuesday 15th. August 2000. Day 30.

06:00 departure for Lake Morris road with Chris Barnes. Then on to Cairns Esplanade for high tide. After lunch at Clifton Beach, drive to Atherton Tablelands. After pitching camp, trip to the Crater, and Hastie’s Swamp. Night camping near Atherton.

Wednesday 16th. August 2000. Day 31.

Morning birding with Chris Barnes to Julatten, Mount Malloy and Mount Lewis. Leave 05:30, return 11:00. Later to Lake Eacham and Lake Barine. Return via Yungaburra (Platypus site). This was the day that I finally saw my 1,000th. species of bird in the wild – Golden Bowerbird. Dry, sunny, warm. Night camp site near Atherton.

Thursday 17th. August 2000. Day 32.

Dawn Platypus ‘twitch’ with my wife(!) in spite of oversleeping slightly after not hearing (?not setting correctly) the alarm. Then, from Atherton to Mission Beach, via the Crater, 4 waterfalls and Innisfail. Night at South Mission Beach – ‘Big 4’. VERY cramped site. We hired two four bed ‘cabins’. Dry, sunny, warm.

Friday 18th. August 2000. Day 33.

To Mackay, via Mission Beach (early morning (time – restricted) twitch with Chris Barnes), Ingham, Townsville. Night in Mackay. Nice motel, opposite the hospital (run by a couple of nice fellows!).

Saturday 19th. August 2000. Day 34.

From Mackay to Bundaberg via Rockhampton. Night in Bundaberg at Chris and Shirley Barnes’ house. Dry, sunny and warm.

Saturday 20th. August 2000. Day 35.

Bundaberg, Moore Park, Burnett, with Chris Barnes. Night in Bundaberg, Chris and Shirley Barnes’ house. Dry sunny and warm.

Sunday 21st. August 2000. Day 36.

Day trip from Bundaberg to Goodnight Scrub. Return to Bundaberg in the evening, night at Chris and Shirley Barnes’ house. Dry, sunny and warm.

Monday 22nd. August 2000. Day 37.

Whale-watching trip. Drive to Hervey Bay in early morning. Caught pre-booked ‘Princess II’ boat. Leave Bundaberg 05:15. Leave Hervey Bay 08:00. Return Hervey Bay 15:00. Cost Aus. $230 for 3 adults and 1 child, including lunch. Beautiful day, sea quite calm. Excellent close (can’t get much closer!) views of Humpback Whales. Return for night at Chris and Shirley Barnes’ house.

Tuesday 23rd. August 2000. Day 38.

Lunchtime departure from Bundaberg for Brisbane. Caught overnight McAfferty’s bus from Brisbane to Sydney, leaving Brisbane at 17:00. NOT recommended!! Heavy thunderstorm on way to Brisbane.

Wednesday 24th. August 2000. Day 39.

Arrive Sydney coach station approx. 09:00. Coach to Sydney Airport, departing Sydney on Singapore Airlines at 14:00 local time. Arrive Singapore approx. 22:00 local time. Two hour stop then leave Singapore for Heathrow, arriving Heathrow 06:15 local time the following day.