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Help Arranging Northern Territory Visit (Australia: (1 Viewer)


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Hi - my wife and I will be in Australia in 2024 from about 13 June to 14 August.

From approx 14 July to 8 August we are interested in exploring the Darwin and Kakadu National Park area. We have some questions:

How many days would you devote to the Darwin area...and how many to Kakadu (of the 24 total days or so we have)?

Right now (and we are happy to change these dates/number of days), we are booked into Kakadu from Thursday, 25 July (2024!) and depart Thursday, August 7 (2024)= 14 nights (and 13 days). From 25 July to 29 July, we have reserved a Bush Bungalow (run by Australian Parks) in the Jabiru town area. on 29 July through 8 August we move to a cabin (nicer has full kitchen and a larger space). Is this too much time in Kakadu and should we spend some time in Litchfield Nat Park near Katherine?

We will have an SUV (or 4 WD) to explore the entire park. Do we need a 4WD for this time of the year in Kakadu?

Once we can sort out how many days in Kakadu, we can add (or subtract) days in the Darwin area or Litchfield NP or elsewhere. We are looking for the best birding sites.

So OK,,,if you had 24 days or so in NT, how would you spend them?

Thank You!

Here is the trip we've arranged so far:

Arrive 13 June in Sydney; have an Air BnB booked in Mosman).

We start off with a pelagic boat trip for albatrosses and others on Sat 15 June 2024 with these guys (Sydney Pelagics):

WEB SITE (Sydney Pelagics & Nature Watching Tours) | BOOKINGS (Bookings: Sydney Pelagics & Nature Watching Tours) | PICK-UP (Pick up: Sydney Pelagics & Nature Watching Tours)
M: Greg 0405578 967 (tel:0405-578-967) or David 0408 905 666 (tel:0408-905-666)
Then we fly to Cairns, rent an SUV at the airport and stay overnight 16-17 June):
2. June 17 (Monday) to 27 June (Thursday) – Atherton Tablelands Birdwatchers' Cabin (near Cairns).

Here is listing: Atherton Birdwatchers’ Cabin | Forest Retreat for nature lovers
About 1 hour 45 minutes from Cairns
3. June 27 (Thursday) to 4 July (Thursday) – Thornton Beach (Cape Tribulation).
Here is the Air BnB listing: Cabin in Thornton Beach · ★4.88 · 1 bedroom · 1 bed · 1 bathroom
4. July 4 (Thursday) to 9 July (Tuesday) – Chambers Wildlife Rainforest Lodges.
Here is the hotel’s web site: Chambers Wildlife Rainforest Lodges

Now while there (great for night mammals and wildlife), try to book this guy: Allan Gillanders (Welcome to tree-kangaroos, bird & nocturnal mammal tours | Alan's Wildlife Tours | Rainforest Wildlife Spotlighting) is a well-known local guide.

Here is Chambers Wildlife Rainforest Lodges on Booking.com: ★★★ Chambers Wildlife Rainforest Lodges, Lake Eacham, Australia
we then have from 9 July to about 14 July...and are thinking of going to the Daintree River area to take some river trips with this guy: Murray (Daintree Boatman Wildlife Cruises) to see little kingfisher, marbled frogmouth, etc.

on 14 July we fly to Darwin from Cairns...and I am working on this part of the trip...how much time for near Darwin and the northern area (and Strait of Torres) and how much time in Kakadu....am researching! I'll keep you posted and we are open to all suggestions, advice etc.

Fly back to Sydney on 9 August...and do pelagic trip again on that Saturday 10 August...then do some birding around Sydney and fly home about 14 August.
I wouldn't think about going out with Murray (Daintree Boatman Wildlife Cruises) just do it! A great trip and if there are birds and wildlife to be found he will find them :)

After nearly 17 years in Australia I've still not made it to the Northern Territory so can't help with your main enquiry, sorry :(
I received this reply about the Northern Territory from someone over at Birding Pal (a very useful site IF you get a response):

Yes I would recommend that you spend a little less time in Kakadu. There are only four endemic species there, and you can get the three that you are likely to get in just one day. For Kakadu, I recommend you spend most of your time in the southern section (e.g. Jim Jim, Maguk and Gunlom [if it is open – Gunlom has been closed for the last few years]) where there are few to no mosquitoes. I recommend you camp at these places if you can. Otherwise staying at Cooinda is the closest. I highly recommend you spend a day at Jim Jim falls. You can get all of the Kakadu endemics there. Maguk is mostly for swimming. Nourlangie rock is also a great place with most endemics. The Yellow waters cruise is although very worthwhile both for birding and to see the sights. Ubirr Rock is great, but be aware that any campsite that far north is full of mosquitoes, so for Nourlangie and Ubirr (which are essentially rock art sites) I recommend staying in Jabiru. Yes you will need a 4WD to drive the last parts of the road to Jim Jim, and Maguk. The price you have is a good deal.

Litchfield is more for swimming than finding different birds. Florence falls and Buley rock hole are great, Wangi falls is the biggest with the biggest camping area, and Sandy creek falls is nice too. You can easily see and do it all in 2-3 days.

Don’t waste your time with Mary River National Park, and there really isn’t anything to see around Corroboree Park Tavern. But if you could get on a boat – or hire a houseboat at Corroboree, you would get some lovely photos of many things (similar to the Yellow waters cruise in Kakadu).

There are plenty of birding opportunities around Darwin. Best places include Fogg Dam, Leanyer Wastewater ponds (if you want to maximise number of species), East Point Reserve, Howard Springs Nature Park. Barn owl and Barking owl are particularly easy at Fogg dam – look at the power lines on the drive out after dark for Barnies. Rufous owl is found at the Botanic Garden. Somebody drove a boat the other day up Buffalo creek and photographed almost all of the kingfishers up here. Another BirdingPal is ----- and he has a boat. McMinns lagoon is nice too. If you use ebird, you will easily see the many other places where birds are seen.

So.. a circuit through Kakadu of about 4-5 days. When you pass through Pine Creek, the bird to get there is Hooded Parrot. Easiest in the late afternoon around the taps around the gas station. 2-3 days in Litchfield. As many days as you want in and around Darwin. Personally, if I had that much time, I would also drive down to Katherine and go on the Cruise up the gorge, and then travel west as far as Keep River National Park. There are a heap of other species that way too. A lot more driving, but some very picturesque country to see.
OK one more question! We have an offer to stay at Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge - birdwatchers.com.au
in Julatten Queensland.

Does anyone know this lodge? - it gets great reviews...I ask because we have 10 days booked at: Atherton Birdwatchers’ Cabin | Forest Retreat for nature lovers

in the Atherton Tablelands and also several days at Chambers Rainforest Lodge (which seems to be just a few miles/kms from the Kingfisher Lodge).

So my question is - should we just plan to spend the 10 days at the Atherton Tablelands Birders Cabin...or would you do 5 days at each?...We also note that the Kingfisher Lodge is about 2x the price of the Atherton Birders Cabin...and has several cabins onsite. By contrast we would be the only ones at the Atherton Tablelands Birders Cabin...

Thank You all again!

Deborah and Bob in NYC

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