Kakadu Naturalists' Tour May 20-25, 2019
- Duration: 6 Days
- Product code: KNT 05/19
Immersion in Nature in Darwin, Kakadu and Litchfield with Mike Jarvis and Ian Morris
Ian Morris is a biologist, educator, conservationist and author of ‘Kakadu National Park’ and co-author of ‘A Natural History and Field Guide to Australia’s Top End’. He has worked with Aboriginal Traditional Owners of the Arnhem Land region for decades, and was involved in forming Kakadu National Park.
Ian promotes the magic of the bush as an NT based environmental consultant for many national parks in Australia. He greatly values his continued connection with his Indigenous mates across the north.
It is my privilege to offer this tour with the added value of Ian’s expert guidance. Kakadu will yield even more of it’s secrets to enthusiastic nature lovers seeking a unique opportunity to encounter birds, reptiles, mammals, invertebrates and plants.
This special opportunity is limited to only six guests. We will travel in a comfortable 4WD at a relaxed pace, immersing ourselves in the whole range of biodiversity in the Mary River area, Kakadu and Litchfield. Be prepared for some nocturnal experiences as well!
Here is a transcript of an interview with Ian about Kakadu in 2005. Ian features in this episode of the ABC documentary 'Kakadu' see him from 19min on or enjoy the whole documentary and the other three Kakadu episodes. Warning: If you watch this you WILL want to come!!
DAY 1 - DARWIN to MARY RIVER PARK
Pick up from Darwin accommodation - 6.30am
After a bush breakfast near some rocky coastline at East Point we explore some monsoon forest habitat in search of the endemic Rainbow Pitta, Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove, Varied Triller and Brown Whistler.
Next we take the boardwalk that goes right through the mangroves to the mudflats, with a pleasant landing that allows us to sit, listen and observe while various waders, Red-headed Honeyeaters, Broad-billed Flycatchers, Collared Kingfishers, and others come into sight. After visiting some savannah woodland habitat for Forest Kingfisher, Double-barred and Long-tailed Finch, Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Spangled Drongo and others, we head out to the wetlands of Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve.
The 60 kilometre drive out to Fogg Dam gives us the opportunity to spot various raptors, kingfishers and the Blue-winged Kookaburra, as well as see a blend of savannah woodland and paperbark forest habitats. At Fogg Dam, the Pandanus lookout is a great place to eat our picnic lunch overlooking the floodplain. The spotting scope is set up and we pick out Magpie Geese, Intermediate Egret, Little Egret, Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Pied Heron, Royal Spoonbill, Little Black Cormorant, White-browed Crake, Black-necked Stork and sometimes Brolga from here. Whistling Kites and often a White-bellied Sea-eagle soar overhead. Crimson Finch, Rufous-banded Honeyeater, Lemon-bellied Flyrobin, Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove, Forest Kingfisher, Sacred Kingfisher and Paperbark Flycatcher are some of the species that occupy the bush on the edge of the floodplain and are often seen in the carpark area. Estuarine Crocodiles, Gilberts Dragon’s, Yellow-spotted Monitors, Northern Long-necked Turtles and Common Tree Snakes may be seen here.
Then we explore the Waterlilies walk which takes us along the fringe of wetland, through paperbark forest. We often see Rainbow Pitta, Brown Whistler, Arafura Fantail and Shining Flycatcher.
We continue on to the Mary River Wilderness Retreat and compare notes on sightings for the day. Listen for Bush Stone-curlew, Tawny Frogmouth and Barking Owl at night.
Dinner and accommodation is in a comfortable, air-conditioned Bush Bungalow at Mary River Wilderness Retreat.
DAY 2 - EXPLORE MARY RIVER
We spend the morning exploring savannah woodland country down the Marrakai track. Our number one target is the rare and spectacularly beautiful Gouldian Finch. This track is amazingly productive for bird sightings all along the track. Species we may see in addition to Gouldian Finches are Masked, Long-tailed, Double-barred and Crimson Finches, Black-tailed Treecreeper, Varied Sitella, Diamond Dove, Channel-billed, Brush, Pallid and Little Bronze Cuckoos, Red-backed Fairy-wren, Northern Rosella, Varied Lorikeet, many raptor species including Black Falcon and Black-breasted Buzzard, as well as many of the more common species. We have morning tea on the banks of the Margaret River where we usually get sightings of Buff-sided Robin, Shining and Paperbark Flycatchers and Arafura Fantail. Mammal species in the area are Agile Wallabies, Antilopine Wallaroos and Dingoes.
Next we take the turn off to Bird Billabong in Mary River National Park, and do a 4 kilometre (return) walk through bushland and floodplain to the Bird Billabong hide, with views of Magpie Geese, Intermediate Egret, Little Egret, Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Pied Heron, White-necked Heron, Royal Spoonbill, Little Black Cormorant, Black-fronted Dotterel, Black-necked Stork and often some Estuarine Crocodiles and many bush birds, including Rufous Whistler, Red-backed Fairy-wren, Gouldian Finch, Masked Finch, Double-barred Finch, Long-tailed Finch, Azure Kingfisher and Lemon-bellied Flycatcher.
Then we head back to our accommodation at Mary River Wilderness Retreat, where we have the opportunity to bird along some of the wildlife tracks at the park.
We have dinner at the restaurant and compare notes on sightings for the day. Listen for Bush Stone-curlew, Tawny Frogmouth and Barking Owl at night.
Accommodation is in a comfortable, air-conditioned, Bush Bungalow at Mary River Wilderness Retreat.
DAY 3 - MARY RIVER TO KAKADU
We head out early to Kakadu National Park and stop at Mamukala bird hide. We do the four kilometre loop walk at sunrise, encountering many savannah and wetland species, then have some breakfast before checking out the bird hide.
We continue on to Ubirr, we explore the Manngarre Monsoon Forest walk, Cahill’s Crossing and Bardedjilidji Sandstone Escarpment walks, searching out some Kakadu escarpment endemics such as Chestnut-quilled Rock-pigeon and White-lined Honeyeater. Other species on our target list are Partridge Pigeon, Rainbow Pitta, Shining Flycatcher, Northern Fantail, Arafura Fantail, Little Red Flying Fox and Wilkin's Rock Wallaby.
We take in some spectacular ancient rock art and a magnificent view across the Nadab Floodplain.
Dinner and bird call at the resort and some nearby nightspotting for Barking Owl.
Accommodation at Jabiru
DAY 4 - EXPLORE KAKADU
We head out early to the Burrunggui rock and Anbangbang area (Nourlangie), and after a bush breakfast at Anbangbang Billabong, we explore Burrunggui. Here there is more ancient Aboriginal rock art, and more endemic species such as Banded Fruit-dove, White-lined Honeyeater, Sandstone Helmeted Friarbird and Black Wallaroo. Other species we will look for include Emerald Dove, Northern Rosella, Partridge Pigeon and Spangled Drongo.
We have a picnic lunch at Mardagul and then do the short Mardagul Billabong walk. Then we visit the Warradjan Cultural Centre which offers an amazing insight into local Aboriginal culture and history. There is also a well stocked cultural and natural history bookstore and authentic souvenir shop.
At 4.10 we depart for the famous Yellow Waters cruise. From the comfort and safety of an open sided, covered vessel we are likely to see four species of Egret - Great, Intermediate, Little and Cattle as well as Black-necked Stork, Brolga, Radjah Shelduck, Wandering and Plumed Whistling-ducks, Green Pygmy-goose, Pied Heron, Nankeen Night-heron, Comb-crested Jacana, Royal Spoonbill, Azure Kingfisher, Little Kingfisher, Buff-sided Robin as well as many large Estuarine Crocodiles. What is particularly amazing about this cruise, is that, because it runs four times a day, every day of the year, the birds and crocodiles are so accustomed to it that they continue on in their natural behaviour completely undisturbed by the presence of the boat.
We pause on sunset and take a few minutes to absorb the splendour of the location as the sun dips below the horizon, often with hundreds of birds flying overhead to their night roosts. Then it’s the short drive to the resort to for dinner.
Dinner and bird call at Cooinda. Ian Morris guides us on a nightwalk, looking for Rock Ringtail Possums, other mammals and reptiles.
Accommodation at Jabiru
DAY 5 - KAKADU TO PINE CREEK
We then depart Jabiru via Kakadu Highway and have a bush breakfast alongside a river bed. We explore southern Kakadu on the way out. The country changes and so does the bird sighting possibilities.
We visit Gunlom and look for more Kakadu endemic species. We check out a nesting location for Red Goshawks and visit a site where Silver-backed Butcherbirds are reliable and a very rare cycad grows.
We continue on to Pine Creek and check out some reliable areas for Hooded Parrot! Other target species here are Banded Honeyeater, Bar-breasted Honeyeater, Rufous-throated Honeyeater, Budgerigar, Cockatiel, Red-winged Parrot, Varied Lorikeet, Great Bowerbird and Grey-crowned Babbler.
Dinner and accommodation Pine Creek
DAY 6 - PINE CREEK TO DARWIN
Early bush breakfast by a river bed south of Pine Creek, where we often see Gouldian Finches, Cockatiels, Hooded Parrots, Northern Rosellas and then head north towards Darwin.
We enter Litchfield National Park, visiting and stop to view some magnificent waterfalls and the wildlife in the area. Here we may find Dingo, Short-eared Rock Wallaby, Olive Python, Merton’s Water Monitor, Spangled Drongo, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Great Bowerbird, Pheasant Coucal, Pied Butcherbird and Silver-backed Butcherbird. This is also one of the few locations where the amazing magnetic termite mounds are found.
We head back to Darwin now via the back route which takes over the beautiful Finniss River. Both Estuarine and Johnston’s Crocodiles are present here. If there is time we will expore birding hotspots around Casuarina Coastal Reserve, Lee Point and Buffalo Creek.
Our last dinner together and review of highlights for the day and the trip, is at a restaurant in Darwin. Post tour accommodation is not included in the cost of the tour.
The above itinerary is based on the outcomes of many previous tours to the areas described. Ian Morris’s experience in the area is vast, and his expertise could lead to some unexpected and memorable wildlife experiences. Each season is different and as various wildlife observing opportunities arise, adjustments will be made.
Inclusions - Five nights comfortable air-conditioned accommodation, Yellow Waters Sunset Cruise, all meals, Kakadu Park entry fees. Cold water, tea and coffee and refreshments available at all times. GST.
Exclusions - Alcoholic drinks, purchases of a personal nature such as souvenirs, internet use, etc.
Group - $4495.00 per person twin share, single supplement $495.00
All prices are in Australian dollars. Please click here for conversion to your currency.
Payment options are Visa, Mastercard, Paypal or Bank Transfer. A 20% deposit secures the booking and the balance is due 30 days prior to start of tour. Please feel free to contact us if you have any queries regarding the tour.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or ring Jenny or Mike on 0400 404 058