This morning you will be met at Perth International airport by your zoologist escort for the tour. As the flight is a very long one form England we will have today to recover and just relax in Perth. Perth is the most westerly city in Australia and is by far the largest place in Western Australia. The city is so clean and easy to navigate you will thoroughly enjoy your day relaxing, walking by the sea, exploring the shops and parks or simply sleeping off the flight in our accommodation, level – 3.5* (Ambassador Hotel). This is where we will have our lunch and evening meal and where you can get some rest ahead of a wildlife packed two and half weeks!
This morning after our breakfast we will get a taxi (pre-paid) down to Freemantle where we get the ferry to Rottnest Island. Named by Dutch explorers in the 1600’s the name means rat’s nest due to the huge population of large rats; but do not fear these rats are actually the very likable quokka. A small member of the kangaroo family. They are everywhere here and its impossible not to get great pictures of them. After our ferry trip (30mins) we will check into our accommodation, level – 3* (Hotel Rottnest / Rottnest Lodge) and after some lunch we will go and collect our bicycles. The best and nearly only way to explore the island is on a bicycle. There are no hills and a circuit can easily be made in an afternoon. We will start by heading to the coast and looking out for the tell tale signs of whales. During this time of year there are humpback whales travelling on their migrations and are regularly spotted frolicking in the distance. There is also a chance of New Zealand fur seals, common bottle-nose dolphins, long-beaked common dolphins, southern right whales, blue whales and many more marine mammals. Also the skies teem with life, from ospreys and nakeen kestrels to Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross and Wilsons storm petrels. Inland there are many other bird species which will make our trip all the longer as we stop every now and again to see what we can find. We will cycle for the rest of the day and head back in time for our evening meal at our accommodation.
This morning we will leave after breakfast for a bike ride to a couple of the more quiet beaches, here we can either relax and bird watch and spot birds like bridled terns, pied oystercatchers, reef herons or even a very rare rock parrot; or if you want we can go for a dip, it can be chilly so the hiring of a wet suit if recommended but not essential. There is a wealth of life under the water and an hour snorkelling here can produce many animals like Western Australian dhufish, baldchin grouper, cobbler flathead, southern stingrays, western shovelnose rays and many different species of cat-shark. After our beach visits we will grab some lunch from one of the great bakeries on the island and spend the rest of the day at your leisure we can either wonder around on foot and see if we can spot the endemic dugite (the only venomous snake on the island) and other reptiles like bobtail skinks, kings skink and marbled geckos. We will once again have our evening meal at the accommodation.
Dryandra Woodland Reserve
This morning after breakfast we will depart for Freemantle on the ferry (30mins) and once we get back to the mainland we will get a taxi (pre-paid) up to downtown Perth. You will have an hour or so for shopping whilst your escort organises a hire vehicle from us. He will arrange a meeting place and time and once we are all back together we will leave for Dryandra Woodland Reserve (2.5 hours). We will grab some lunch along the way. Dryandra is a very special place and one of the few remaining areas of pristine south-western woodland in the state. The joys of spending time here are in finding the many rare and wonderful animals which live here and in many cases nowhere else. Amongst the most rare are red-tailed phascogales, bilbies, short-billed black-cockatoos, numbats, western quolls, malleefowl, boodies and woylies. Most of these animals are nocturnal but do not fret because we will be visiting a special conservation project hidden deep in the park and during the night we will be lead around by a conservationist and get very close to some of the rarest mammals in the world. This is an unforgettable experience as small marsupials which were thought to be extinct until recently come hopping around your ankles in a semi-wild setting. They are bred here until they are able to be released into the reserve proper. But as for the daylight hours; well after we arrive we will check into our accommodation, level – basic dormitory style cabins / BnB (Lions Dryandra Woodland Camp / Horden Hotel). We have a choice of places to stay here and this decision will be made by the group on booking. We can either stay in the heart of the reserve in a small and basic camp. This is by far the best way to explore and enjoy the time here as we can do some of our own spotlighting during the night and see what animals are around as well as being part of the woodland. However the accommodation is basic and we cannot guarantee we will stay in one of the two cabins which have double beds and we maybe in private dormitory style bunk bed cabins. The alternative is to drive an extra 30-40mins out of the woodland to the nearby village of Narrogin and stay in bed and breakfasts, this is more comfortable but the experience is lessened and we cannot offer nocturnal spotlighting here as driving along the highways after dark is dangerous due to the kangaroos and cows which wonder into the roads. If we are staying in the cabin we will have brought with us some food and will have a BBQ if we are in Narrogin we will eat our evening meal in the accommodation.
Dryandra Woodland Reserve
Today we will rise early and after some breakfast we will leave for a walk around one of many trails in the reserve. This is the best time to find the very cute and shy numbats, short-beaked echidnas and many birds like malleefowl, painted button quail, brush bronzewing and red-capped parrots. We will leave the reserve in the afternoon for some food in one of the nearby villages. On our return in the afternoon we will have a drive around the reserve and see if we can see any of the larger mammals such as western grey kangaroos and tammar wallabies. Our evening meal will be the same as yesterday (either a BBQ or at our accommodation in Narrogin) and if we are staying in the reserve we will have some nocturnal spotlighting after sunset.
Dryandra Woodland Reserve
Today will follow a similar pattern as yesterday with a walk in the morning, lunch in a nearby town but an afternoon walk instead of a drive, followed by our evening meal and a visit to the conservation zone to see join a guided walk like on day 4.
Jurien Bay / Nambung National Park
This morning we will rise and breakfast early so we can head to our next destination, Cervantes in Jurein Bay (6 hours) we will eat along the way and once we get we will check into our accommodation, level – 4* (Cervantes Pinnacles Motel / Pinnacles Edge resort); once we are settled we will leave for the nearby Numbung National Park (40mins). Nambung is most famous for its bizarre sandstone pillars. The aptly named pinnacles are dotted all over the landscape and with over 150,000 of them and some being 5m tall it is impossible not to be impressed by the site as we drive around the pinnacles. There are also many birds here including the charming New Holland honeyeater, emus, red-tailed black cockatoos and wedge-tailed eagles. As for mammals we may find the extremely rare honey possum as it feeds on the nectar of the many native bushes. Carpet pythons are huge harmless snakes which can sometimes be spotted and we will be keeping an eye out for them and perenties as well. Our evening meal is at our accommodation.
Jurien Bay / Nambung National Park
This morning we will breakfast and when we finish head down to the harbour. We will be visiting the Jurien Bay Marine Park today on ‘Hot Tuna’ a specialist boat which will take us out to the Australian sea lion colony on Essex Rocks. Here we will get very close to the sea lions as they play around the boat, but even better than that we will get the chance to snorkel with them which is an amazing experience as they seem even more curious about you than you are of them! We often see common bottle-nose dolphins, peid cormorants, ospreys and Australian pelicans. All snorkelling equipment and wet suits are included in the price. We will eat lunch on our return and the rest of the afternoon is at your leisure. We will eat our evening meal at the accommodation.
Kalbarri National Park
This morning after breakfast we will set off for Kalbarri (5-6 hours) stopping at the fishing town of Gerladton for some lunch on the way. During the drive we will past through typical Australian outback country and it is not uncommon to see several species of snakes and lizards along the way including the king brown snake, tiger snakes, bobtail skinks, sand goannas and perenties. The lizards use the hot tarmac to heat up during the day and they are easy to spot on the long empty highways. In addition to the reptiles we see emus, red kangaroos, dingoes, wedge-tailed eagles, white-bellied sea eagles, black kites and galah cockatoos. Once we arrive at Kalbarri we will check into the accommodation, level – 3* (Kalbarri Reef Villas / Tudor Holiday Park / Kalbarri Palm Resort) and depending on the time (how many stops we made to observe animals along the way) we will have an evening drive into the Kalbarri National Park. Kalbarri is a huge park and full of amazing rock structures which have been naturally carved by the wind over many 1000’s of years. As well as all the stunning scenery the seemingly empty desert landscape boasts a large number of animals and here we will try and find western grey kangaroos, the rare tammar wallaby, emus, wedge-tailed eagles, tiger snakes, Butlers corella and thorny devils. After the sunsets we will head back to the accommodation for our evening meal.
Kalbarri National Park
Today we will spend most of the day in Kalbarri National Park and complete a few of the walks in search of the smaller birds such as brown, white-fronted, tawny-crowned and singing honeyeaters, red wattlebird, white-browed scrub wren and many more. We will come back during the middle of the day and you can relax by the pool and have lunch at the accommodation and if you want and the weather is not too hot and oppressive head back into the park until dark. Our evening meal will once again be at the accommodation.
This morning after our breakfast we will leave and travel further north and into the World Heritage area of Shark Bay. Shark Bay is famous for its huge (largest in the world) pristine sea grass ecosystem which holds such a huge amount of life you will almost not believe your eyes. We will stop along the way at one of the many roadhouses and grab some lunch. Just as we enter the peninsula we will stop at Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve. This small bay is home to true living fossils. The bizarre looking statues which dot the waters edge are in fact living organisms called stromatolites; they are cyanobacteria and they form the structures by trapping microscopic calcium particles from sea shells and sand, they are the most simple form of life which use photosynthesis in order to produce food and the hyper-saline water of Hamelin Pool is perfect for them. They are living fossils because their closest relatives are fossil stromatolites over 3,500 million years old! The water is quite chilly but you are free to have a dip and get some underwater shots of the stromatolites. As well as these there are other animals in the pool including large thorntail stingrays which can grow to over 2m across their disc. They are very curious and often come right up to the waters edge. Once we leave Hamelin Pool we will continue on to Denham and our accommodation, level – 4* (Heritage Resort). Here we will have our evening meal whilst staring out at the remarkably still and serene waters of Shark Bay.
This morning we will rise early and after breakfast drive down the road to the other settlement in Shark Bay; Monkey Mia. It is here that you can meet the stars of the bay as every morning a group of Indo-Pacific bottle-nose dolphins come very close to the beach and are fed by the locals. This is very controversial and we do not condone the feeding of the dolphins as it is proven to alter their behaviour, however it does allow you to get closer to wild dolphins than is usually possible. The rest of the day will be spent in the resort and we can go for walks along the beach and see what we can find which often includes, western shovelnose rays, coach-tail whiprays, reticulated whiprays, spotted eagle rays, cow-tailed stingrays, nervous sharks, Australian pelicans, pied cormorants and of course the dolphins. We can also hire sea kayaks and head out onto the water at a very leisurely pace to see if we can get close to dugongs, dolphins, green and loggerhead turtles and maybe even find the king og the bay, one of the large tiger sharks. There is very little to be worried about in the bay (considering there are over 10,000 tiger sharks and other species present in the bay there has only ever been one recorded shark attack and he was a spear fisherman. Our director has spent many hours on the water here including doing diving and snorkelling as part of a the Shark Bay Ecosystem Research Project and can vouch for the safety of the water (as long as your sensible). We will eat lunch here at Monkey Mia and when we have finished exploring the coastline we will leave for Denham and have our evening meal here.
This morning we will eat breakfast and then explore the interior of the peninsula. We will drive into the Francois Peron National Park. Most of the roads are suitable for 2 wheel drive vehicles but if the conditions are not right we may be limited in where we can visit. However usually we can get to Skipjack Point, Cape Peron, Bottle Bay and the Gregories. Skipjack Point and Cape Peron are the best places to spot large sharks (tigers, bull, sandbar, lemon, nervous, scalloped hammerheads and others), stingrays (spotted eagle rays, coachtail whiprays, reticulated whiprays, cow-tailed), shovelnose rays (great and western), dugongs as well as green and loggerhead turtles. If we are lucky it is from here that a group of Indo-Pacific bottle-nose dolphins have learnt to herd fish into the shallows and beach themselves to snap them up. This was famously filmed for Planet Earth and we may be treated to a live viewing. As we are driving around the peninsula we past many birridas (salt-pans) and here many migratory birds aggregate. Peron is one of the best places to see thorny devils, bobtail skinks, breaded dragons, woma pythons and common walleroos. We will have a picnic lunch and as the sun begins to set we will head back to Denham for our evening meal.
Today we will spend the day at Monkey Mia again so after breakfast we will drive there and today we will be having a cruise of Shotover, one of the catamarans which conducts wildlife tours of the bay. We will have an afternoon tour which specialises in finding dugongs. We will either stay on the boat for sunset and a relaxing cruise as the sunsets against the still waters creating a surreal pinkish grow which is reflected everywhere or we can join a cultural tour with an indigenous member of the Shark Bay population; he will take us into Dream Time and show us how the desert provides his people with food, water, shelter and everything they could need. Our evening meal will be in Denham and afterwards we can go back out into the desert and try to spotlight some of the rare mammals like Shark Bay mice, bilbies, boodies and short-beaked echidnas.
After an early breakfast we will leave Shark Bay and head north to our next destination. Today is a long day of driving and so we will split the day with a morning drive to Carnarvon (4.5 hours) where we will have lunch and a break before we continue north to Exmouth (4.5-5 hours). As the drive will take the majority of the day the rest of the evening is free for you to rest and relax either in our accommodation, level – 3* / 3.5* (Ningaloo Lodge / Sea Breezes Best Western Hotel) or around the small and pleasant town of Exmouth. We will eat our evening meal in our accommodation.
Today we will spend the day with the largest fish in the world. We will travel out to Ningaloo Reef which is largely regarded as one of the best places in the world for whale sharks as once a year from April to July they aggregate here to take advantage of the plankton blooms of the reef. We will have an opportunity to snorkel above the outer reef wall until the spotter plane fins a whale shark. The snorkelling may prove very rewarding as it is not unusual to see grey-reef sharks, white-tipped reef sharks, bat fish, large schools of sea bream and other fish. But the real fun begins as soon as we receive news of a sighting. The pilot of the plane will radio in the sighting and circle the shark until we arrive. Once we arrive you will be briefed on the strict rules of swimming with the animals which is as much for the safety of you as for the shark. Swimming with these gentle giants is amazing and you get a genuine sense of awe as they dwarf you and power forward with the smallest flicks of their tail and you struggle to keep up as you swim as fast as you can! We will recoup some energy with lunch on the boat and continue to snorkel with the huge sharks and sometimes we will end the day with more snorkelling around the reef itself, where huge stingrays and many reef fish are plentiful. As well as the highlighter whale sharks there are very good chances we can see and maybe swim with manta rays and even humpback whales at this time of the year. Our well deserved evening meal will be back at our accommodation, level – 3* / 3.5* (Ningaloo Lodge / Sea Breezes Best Western Hotel).
Today we will drive around the peninsula and enter the Cape Range National Park. Cape Range is a beautiful part of the world, partly because of all of the wonderful wildlife found around here such as black-footed rock wallabies, western grey kangaroos, Australian bustards, emus, galahs, perenties and red kangaroos and partly because of the close proximity of Ningaloo Reef. The reef here extends right up to the coastline and this makes snorkelling here amazing. In between all the green turtles, black-tipped reef sharks, blue-green parrotfish, Clarkes anemone fish and many more species you will not know where to look. We will travel to a nearby café for lunch and in the afternoon continue exploring the park either by snorkelling or walking. Our evening meal will be at the accommodation, level – 3* / 3.5* (Ningaloo Lodge / Sea Breezes Best Western Hotel).
Today we are free to choose what to do. We can either go back to Cape Range National Park and enjoy more snorkelling, birding and walking in the scrub or stay in Exmouth and enjoy our last day before we travel back to Perth. We will eat our lunch in a café depending on where we are and our evening meal will be at the accommodation, level – 3* / 3.5* (Ningaloo Lodge / Sea Breezes Best Western Hotel).
This morning we will breakfast and head straight to the airport where we will catch the short flight (2.5 hours) back south to Perth. On arrival in Perth we will have the rest of the day to do as you please. You can take advantage of the great shopping here for souvenirs, or just head to one of the many city parks and relax and watch the rosellas and lorikeets as they chirp and flit about. We will have our evening meal at our accommodation, level – 3.5* (Ambassador Hotel).
Today you will be transferred to the airport in time 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.
As for the accommodation we use in Dryandra Woodland Reserve on days 4, 5 & 6 the final decision will be made by the first group or person to confirm a booking on the tour. We can in special circumstances sometimes arrange different accommodation for different people in the group but the one-one experience of the zoologist and spotlighting can be compromised. Please contact us for me information.
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.