Queensland’s Wildlife & Great Barrier Reef Tour
September 10, 2024 - September 26, 2024£1553 – £6205
Queensland’s Wildlife & Great Barrier Reef Tour
Going eye-to-eye with humpback whale calves in crystal clear blue water, seeing a salt-water crocodile disappear silently into the gloom, finding tree dwelling kangaroos by spotlight and much much more. Queensland is not what most people expect when they visit Australia, lots of green, forests as far as the eye can see, lots of rain during certain times of the year and not a desert in sight! But just when you think the life is unbeatable in the rainforests you will be stunned when you take a dip over the Great Barrier Reef. Exploring all environments in this diverse state, this tour has it all.
Two Daintree River cruises
Dive and snorkel the Great Barrier Reef
4×4 safaris of Fraser Island
Whale watch in Hervey Bay
Spotlight for rare marsupials
Rainforest canopy walkways
Top Animals on Tour
Lumholtz tree kangaroo
Tour Dates: 10/9/2024 – 26/9/2024
Duration: 16 nights
Type / Focus: Whales & Marsupials
As you arrive in Cairns International Airport you will be met by your zoologist escort and driver for the next two weeks. He will transfer you to your accommodation, level – 4* / 5* (The Hotel Cairns / Sebel Cairns). Depending on the time of your arrival our lunch and dinner or just dinner will be at the accommodation or a nearby restaurant. The rest of the day will be free for you to relax and catch up on some sleep after the long flight here. There will be a walk along the coast offered and some of the local birds can be seen such as Royal spoonbills, white-bellied sea eagles and white-necked herons there are also plenty of spectacled flying-foxes around which are great to watch as they leave their roosts to feed on fruit in the evenings.
This morning we will eat breakfast and prepare for our first trip out to the Great Barrier Reef. Well known facts like the largest living organism on the planet and the only living organism which can be seen from space cannot prepare yourself for the wealth of life to be found under the beautiful blue water. With over 400 species of coral, 1500 species of fish, 200 species of birds, 20 species of reptiles and 30 species of marine mammal the reef is truly one of the top ten places in the world for wildlife enthusiasts. We will leave Cairns at 8:30am and head to the first of three destinations on the reef. We will have around 5 hours to snorkel and observe the marine world and divers can enjoy three dives. The animals which are commonly seen at our chosen sites range from white-tipped reef sharks, grey-reef sharks, blue-spotted stingrays, green and hawksbill turtles, banded sweetlips, giant clams, octopus and many other reef fish. We will have lunch on board as well as morning and afternoon tea. We will enjoy our evening meal at our accommodation, level – 4* / 5* (The Hotel Cairns / Sebel Cairns) or a nearby restaurant and go over what we saw today and prepare for another trip to the reef again tomorrow.
Today will start the same as yesterday, after breakfast we will head to the harbour and board the boat for our second visit to the Great Barrier reef. Today our divers can have another two dives and snorkellers are welcome to snorkel all day long. We will visit two sites on the outer reef today and these sites are best for giant clams, anemones and anemone fish, pipefish, lionfish, moray eels, green and hawksbill turtles, large schools of fusiliers, many species of damselfish as well as barracuda, yellow-fin tuna, mackerel and trevally. White-tip reef sharks are resident at a number of the sites we may visit as well. As yesterday our lunch will be taken on board and we can enjoy some refreshments throughout the day. When we come back we will have a well deserved rest after two intense days of swimming the greatest natural wonder in the world! Our evening meal will be at the accommodation, level – 4* / 5* (The Hotel Cairns / Sebel Cairns) or a local restaurant.
This morning we will eat breakfast a little later than usual and get ready for a drive north into some of the oldest rainforests on the planet. Daintree (2 hours) is an exceptionally wild and beautiful place. It holds 30% of all Australias frog, reptile and marsupial species, 18% of all the bird species and staggeringly 65% of all the bat and butterfly species! We will be here for the next two nights and aim to explore the area by boat, car and walking. Today we will check into our accommodation, level – 3.5* (Cape Tribulation Resort & Spa / Cape Tribulation Beach House) then drive to a small private jetty where we will enjoy an hour long trip along Daintree River in search of the top predator in northern Australia, the estuarine crocodile often called salt-water crocodile or shorten to salty. There are many here and we have a very good chance of spotting some and hopefully even one of the massive 5m beasts which inhabit the area. Bare this in mind if you think about getting too close to the waters edge at any point, we should also see brahminy kites, spectacled flying foxes, malachite kingfishers and many other aquatic birds. Depending on the time we will either eat some lunch here or carry on to the Daintree Discovery Centre where we can walk among the tree tops one raised platforms. This is ideal for seeing many of the bird species like blue-winged kookaburra, topknot pigeon, wompoo fruit dove, rainbow lorikeet, double-eyed fig parrot, helmeted friarbird and hundreds others. We will come back to the accommodation for our evening meal. If we are staying at Cape Tribulation Resort & Spa we will have a guided nocturnal tour, this tour is very good and usually finds many of the shy animals of the rainforest like green-tree frogs, carpet pythons and Boyds forest dragon.
After breakfast we will spend the day under the care of a very knowledgeable local naturalist. We will have a couple of hours walking through the rainforest followed by an hour on the river travelling through the mangroves before having lunch in the rainforest. We will relax around the brilliant blue waters of Cooper Creek and after our evening meal if the weather is favourable enjoy a nocturnal walk. Today we will try and find the rare and bizarre flightless bird the southern cassowary as well as striped possums, musky-rat kangaroos, swamp wallaby, northern brown bandicoots, amethystine pythons and many other reptiles, amphibians and birds. This is one of the most comprehensive explorations of the Daintree rainforest and we usually find all the rarer wildlife.
Today we will rise early and before sunrise as we head to another small jetty on the Daintree River and have a couple of hours birding along the river as the sun comes up. This is one of the most active times of the day for birds and its not uncommon to see 20-30 different species as well as crocodiles, pythons and spectacled flying foxes. After the tour we will have breakfast back at our accommodation before checking out and driving back south and into the highlands of Queensland (2.5 hours). Atherton Tablelands are very rich in endemic fauna and as most of the surrounding area has been turned into farmland the remaining patches of rainforest act as isolated islands for very rare animals like the amazing Lumholtz tree kangaroo. This animal is the main reason we are here and with only a handful left in the world and all living here it has to be regarded as one of the most endangered mammals in the world. Today we will check into our accommodation, 4* (Tinaroo Lake Resort) and after some lunch have a drive around some of the best wildlife viewing areas in the tablelands. We will visit many during the day and the evening so we can spotlight and find the nocturnal species. But this afternoon we will visit Cathedral fig-tree (one of the most amazing trees you will ever see), lake Eacham which is famous for its freshwater turtles and fruit pigeons before travelling to Mount Hypipamee. We will come back to Mount Hypipamee tonight to spotlight for some of the possums which live here. There is a chance of spotting a southern cassowary during the day here and at night we might find common brush-tailed possums, striped possum, lemuroid possum, green ring-tailed possum and Herbert river possums. We will eat our evening meal at our accommodation.
After breakfast we will once again put ourselves in the very capable hands of a local naturalist. He will take us around the local area and hopefully show us the very unusual platypus, 4-5 species of macropod (kangaroo family), Victorias riflebirds, double-eyed fig parrots, different crane species, the very hard to find Australian bustard as well as many other mammals, reptiles and bird species before the spotlighting tour in search of the Lumholtz tree kanagaroos and leaf-tailed geckos. With the help of the local naturalist and your zoologist escort you will fully explore the tablelands and when we find a tree-kangaroo you will find them amazing, very few animals are as unusual and charismatic as tree-kangaroos and we guarantee you will fall in love with them. It is a shame that as the farmland continues to encroach on the very few patches of woodland left this population is in serious danger of becoming extinct. We will grab some lunch whilst out on the exploration of the tablelands and our evening meal will be back at the accommodation.
Eungella National Park
After breakfast we will be get back on the road again and continue our journey south. Today is a long day of driving and we will break it up with regular stops as well as having lunch along the way. Our destination is Eungella National Park (10 hours). Eungella is a small park set in the highlands of the central coastal region of Queensland. Most famous for its platypus population the views here are spectacular as you can stand over a sea of green that most people would not associate with Australia. Due to the isolated nature of the park and the forests here there are many endemic species such as many skink species and a favourite; the Eungella honeyeater. As the drive is a long one when we arrive we will check into our accommodation, level eco-resort (Broken River Mountain Resort) and have the rest of the evening to rest. Our even meal will be at our accommodation or a nearby restaurant.
Eungella National Park
Today we are on the quest of the platypus. Once thought to be made up and a combination of parts of other animals, the egg laying, poisonous, odd looking mammal really is a treat to see. There is a decent population in the park and the viewing platforms allow you to get really close to them as they swim free and go about their foraging as if they were completely alone. Today is all about relaxing and enjoying the cool mountain air. This part of Australia is rarely visited and the peacefulness is bliss. We will have lunch in the town of Eungella and our evening meal in our accommodation, level eco-resort (Broken River Mountain Resort).
After breakfast we once again have a long journey ahead of us and one which will take us through the sugar cane region of Queensland. Huge amounts of this crop are grown around here and as a result of the tasty plant the insect and bird life is prolific. We should see many species of flycatcher and raptors in the skies all around us like, black kites, black-shouldered kites, wedge-tailed eagles, nankeen kestrels and many other falcons on the drive to Hervey Bay (10-5 hours). We will like always stop along the way regularly and if we see anything interesting. Hervey Bay is a beautiful enclosed bay on the north-west side of Fraser Island. The small protected bay makes an ideal stopping point for the migrating humpback whales. And it is the whales which are the main reason we are here. After checking into our accommodation, level 5* / 4* (Akama Resort / Boat Harbour Resort) and have our evening meal here as we prepare to get up close and personal to some of the largest animals in the world tomorrow!
After breakfast we will leave for the harbour and board our whale watching catamaran for the day. We will have around 8 hours on the water and with any luck get extremely close to the whales. The water is so clear and pure here that the visibility is exceptional and you can see all the behaviours of the whales underwater. Even though the boat cannot approach the whales as we have to abide by international law the whales are so curious and used to boats that they come right up to us often come within touching distance. It is hard to tell who is watching who as they seem really interested in what is going on on-board the boat. They also like a play and regularly treat us to spectacular displays of acrobatics as they breach through the placid waters. We will eat some lunch on board and on return have the rest of the day to yourself with our evening meal at the accommodation or a nearby restaurant.
This morning after we have breakfast your zoologist escort will leave to pick up the 4×4 vehicle we will use for our trip over to the largest sandy island in the world. Fraser Island is otherwise known as Great Sandy National Park and is dominated by long beaches, pristine forests and brilliant lakes. We will begin with the short ferry journey from Hervey Bay to the island and once on the island we will drive to our accommodation, level beach resort (Kingfisher Bay Resort) and check in. After checking in and having some lunch we will begin to explore the island. Either today or tomorrow we will visit Indian Head to try and see tiger sharks in the shallows, their dark bodies forming sinister shapes in the surf and as Fraser Island is second only to Tasmania by having a high concentration of freshwater lakes we will also visit some of them including Lake McKenzie, Lake Wabby and Basin Lake. Wildlife which is commonly seen during our visit to Fraser Island are the resident dingoes, which are very common and not in the least bit shy, but it is important to remember that they are wild and not pets. There are not many other mammal species here but we maybe lucky to see swamp wallabies and short-beaked echidnas, however it is reptiles that really dominate the fauna here with endemic skinks and turtles like Fraser Island short-necked turtle regularly seen along with carpet pythons, lace goannas and eastern water dragons. There are also 6 species of marine turtle recorded from the waters around the island. We usually see ospreys dive bombing for fish around the island as well. Our evening meal will be back at our accommodation.
After breakfast we will drive to Indian Head to see if we can see the tiger sharks as they are usually still in the shallows after a nights hunting. We can also find many large stingrays in the surf zone as well. We will spend the rest of the day visiting the places listed in Day 12 and not visited yet. We will break for lunch back at our accommodation, level beach resort (Kingfisher Bay Resort) and our evening meal will also be here after we have watched the sun set spectacularly over the ocean.
Today after breakfast we will get the return ferry back to Hervey Bay where your escort will switch over the 4×4 for our other vehicle and continue south to Brisbane (5 hours). The capital of Queensland and the only truly big city in this enormous state. We will drive straight to our accommodation, level – 4* / 3* (Sebel Suits Brisbane / Rydges Brisbane) and after settling in have the rest of the day to yourself. There is some good bird watching in the parks of the city as well as looking for koalas, swamp, red-necked and whiptail wallabies around the parks. But a real treat is the evening exodus of flying foxes from their roosts to their feeding trees once a night. With black, grey-headed and little-red flying foxes all flying around the sky is pretty spectacular during the evenings.
After breakfast we will go down to the harbour for our final trip out on a boat in Queensland. We are once again on the look out for cetaceans and Moreton Bay has its fair share of whales and dolphins. We will be catching up with the humpback whales again and usually get brilliant views of the whales as they approach the boat to have a nosy at us. Our lunch will be served on board and as we sit down to eat we will be surrounded by the whales hopefully with some young whales as well. We also have a good chance of seeing common bottle-nose dolphins as they race along bow-riding with the boat. Our evening meal will be at our accommodation, level – 4* / 3* (Sebel Suits Brisbane / Rydges Brisbane). You will have the rest of the evening free for souvenir shopping and catching up with everything we have seen in our two weeks exploring Australias reefs and rainforests.
After a leisurely breakfast we will leave for the airport and board our flight to Cairns (2-3 hours) once in Cairns we will check into our accommodation, level – 4* / 5* (The Hotel Cairns / Sebel Cairns). We will have the opportunity to visit a few of the sites around Cairns and your escort will treat you to a dirnk or two this evening as we go over all our sightings. Our evening meal will be at our accommodation.
Today you will transferred to the airport after breakfast to catch your return flight home.
Please note that the itinerary stated above is correct as our planned intentions for the tour. However adverse weather conditions and other local considerations can necessitate some modifications of the itinerary during the course of the tour; any changes will be made to make the best of the time and weather conditions available to us.
This tour is available on different date (subject to availability) please contact us for more details about running this tour on a date which suits you more.
The weather in Queensland varies as we move around. June and July is winter in Australia and the temperatures are lower than the summer but they still average between 20-30 degrees C, June – October is the dry season and so rainfall is rare. The evenings and nights can be chilly.
Everything mentioned in the itinerary is included. Including three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). There will be an amount of bottled water (approx 1ltr) available for each guest each day. We have our own private air conditioned mini-van to be driven by your zoologist escort. You get the services of the zoologist escort included in the fee. As well as the Great Barrier Reef and whale watching trips. All hire costs for snorkelling and diving gear is included.
All our excursions including treks, nocturnal tours, boat trips, ferries, taxis, guided walks, spotlighting and park entrance fees are also included.
We recommend you bring along your own binoculars or scope as well as appropriate clothing; which should be clothes for light and airy, the nights can be chilly so also bring a fleece, woolly hat and scarf. Comfortable walking shoes are a must. As it can be windy on the water during the boat trips we recommend wind breakers and water proofs. If you have your own snorkel, mask, fins and wetsuit we recommend you bring them so you are more comfortable with your own gear. if you wish to scuba dive you will be required to bring your dive certificate and dive log with you. Insect repellent is good idea as the mosquitoes are out and about after dark. Any medication, books or other items of a personal nature is of course up to you to bring along. Oh and please bring plenty of memory cards or film for your camera. Also do not forget sun cream, sun hat and sun glasses as the sun can be strong here during the day.
We provide a comprehensive species list of all the vertebrates present in the areas we are visiting as well as some of the best field guides and reference books for the areas we are visiting. There is usually a spare pair of binoculars but in a group of 4-6 people these do not stretch too far. A mask, snorkel and fins are provided as well as a wetsuit for all snorkelling and diving activities. Camera Traps will also be used to try and capture hard to see wildlife in the dead of night.
Nearly everything is included in this tour. The only things not included are international flights, travel insurance (contact us for more information one what is required from your insurance policy), any food bought outside of the three main meals, drinks outside of any offered with the meals and the bottled water provided each day and any items of a personal nature such as souvenirs and tips. If you cannot or do not wish to dive on the Great Barrier Reef a £100 refund will be issued on the of the first trip to the reef, as that is the price difference in snorkelling and diving. Any applicable departure taxes and not included (but maybe included in the cost of your flights). Please check before departure.
As we are based in Manchester we recommend flights from Manchester International Airport
We recommend Quantas or Emirates as good airlines for flights to Cairns. For the internal flight from Brisbane back to Cairns after your trip we recommend Virgin Blue. One of the best websites to search for the best fares to and from Cairns is www.opodo.co.uk; who are an IATA accredited company which provides you with all the securities under ATOL protection and for the internal flight www.virginblue.com.au is a link direct to the airline. Please check our terms and conditions regarding booking flights.
Please contact us for more information about flights and we can provide you with a link direct to the flights from another supplier; in which case you only have to enter the passenger information and payment details. By using the above link you will leave our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for the content on the site.
Visas and Health Information
All UK passport holders and most other nationalities are required to have a visa for Australia. These have to be obtained before you leave for Australia and are issued for 90 days and are valid for use for 12 months. Meaning you can stay in Australia for 90 days and leave any time up to 12 months from when you have been issued the visa. The easiest way to find information is by visiting www.immi.gov.au (be aware that this link leaves our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for information on the site).
There are no mandatory vaccinations needed to visit Australia although if you are travelling from Africa a valid Yellow Fever certificate is needed.
If you wish to dive at all during the holiday you will need to have a medical certificate from a doctor to ensure there are no underlying problems before you dive. Please consult your GP for more information as soon as you decide to book this holiday.
If you are a certified diver please bring along your dive log.
Reviews of this Holiday
Mrs P. Douglas & Miss J. Spears, London
L. Drury & C. Evatt, Carlisle
Mr. Thomas-Marshall, Kettering