October 16-23, 2007
Tonia lined us up with Klaus Uhlenhut of Kirrama Wildlife Tours for this trip north from Cairns to Musgrave and the Iron Range. Klaus is an excellent guide, personable and very dedicated to providing his clients with lots of birds and a good time. The place at which we stayed in Portland Roads, at the far point of our tour, couldn't have been nicer, with a spectacular view of the bay, and sunbirds nesting outside the open windows. This was Klaus' 58th trip to the Iron Range.
We departed Cairns in the morning, with Klaus and two "Gold Coaster" Queenslanders: Peter Bains and Peter Moloney. Our first stops along the road were Lake Mitchell, Mary Farms (bustard) and Windmill Creek, where we started our search for the rare Golden-shouldered Parrot. It was unsuccessful. Klaus, however, had anticipated a long search, so we were booked in the Musgrave Roadhouse a couple of nights. The next day we gathered in lawn chairs Klaus had brought along, beside a waterhole. Before we left, 20 of the beautiful parrots had appeared, including 2 bright males. A major success!
We continued north, now on dirt road, fording several rivers (it was the end of the "dry" so there weren't deep rivers to traverse). All the vehicles here have air intakes at roof level, so the engine can breathe under water! A highlight was a Red Goshawk nest on Lilyvale Road near Archer River, where we stayed 2 nights. Day 4 brought us to Iron Range NP, with forested areas, rough roads, and a small settlement at Portland Roads, where the US military had built an airport (from which we departed) during WWII. We spent 4 luxurious nights here in a private home (power from solar and generators, 4 bedrooms all to ourselves; excellent, mostly seafood dinners nearby at another residence).
Great birds included Palm Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, Red-cheeked Parrot, Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Noisy Pitta(!), Yellow-legged Flycatcher, Northern Scrub-Robin, Trumpet Manucode, Fawn-breasted Bowerbird, and many others. The butterflies were also spectacular. For the York Peninsula trip, we saw 183 bird species, and 32 "lifers."
See Tasmania for Australian reference guides
Cairns -- Figtree Lodge, 253 Sheridan Street, Cairns Qld 4870
Musgrave Roadhouse, Peninsula Development Rd, Musgrave, Qld 4870
Archer River Roadhouse - Phone +61 (0)7 4060 3266
Portland Roads - private house via Kirrama Wildlife Tours (wonderful)