Bird Watching


At Rose Gums over 160 species of birds have been recorded. Your hosts Jon & Peta are keen naturalists and are more than happy to explain the uniqueness of this special place. Comprehensive environmental information is available in the treehouses. At Rose Gums all the endemics to the Wet Tropics have been recorded except the Golden Bowerbird. There are a variety of habitats at Rose Gums including wet sclerophyll (Rose Gums), upland rainforest, acacia regrowth, rainforest streams, reforestation plots, grasslands, gardens and a dam. Due to this diversity the bird life is not only abundant with some unique birds eg Blue-faced Parrot-finch, Victoria’s Riflebird, Tooth-billed Bowerbird and many more. More bird watching information: Bird List & Speciality Birds

Whilst staying in the tree houses guests may take a morning two hour bird watching tour with your host Jon on the property (bookings essential). There is a maximum of 6 people per tour.

Also there are self-guided walks available with comprehensive interpretative information in all tree houses. It is not hard to spot at least 40 bird species on a morning tour on the property. Within 50 kilometres of Rose Gums the list can grow to over 80 bird species in day.

Rose Gums is very central to all the top birding spots and is an ideal base to see the rest of this amazingly diverse region.

Atherton Tablelands

Atherton Tableland, a birding hot spot.

The Cairns Highlands has a wide variety of habitats such as riverine, wetland, woodland, rainforest, grassland, agricultural and parkland and also has one of the largest avifauna of any region in Australia. Download the Tropical Tablelands Tourism Bird Brochure for more information on the bird watching capital of Australia.

Geographically the Atherton Tableland covers from Malanda at the southern end to Mareeba/Julatten at the northern end, out to Ravenshoe, Herberton in the west and across to the coastal ranges. Within this area are many habitats ranging from dry monsoon eucalypt woodland, wet & dry sclerophyll and upland rainforest as well as open bodies of water like Tinaroo Dam, Lake Eacham and Lake Barrine (pristine volcanic crater lakes in the rainforest). This diversity of habitats attracts a large range of bird species within a relatively small area and offers great bird watching opportunities. Within the tableland area over 300 bird species have been recorded including the 13 Wet Tropics endemics:

  • Lesser Sooty Owl
  • Grey-headed Robin
  • Bower’s Shrike-thrush
  • Pied Monarch
  • Chowchilla
  • Fern wren
  • Atherton Scrub wren
  • Macleay’s Honeyeater
  • Bridled Honeyeater
  • Tooth-billed Bowerbird
  • Victoria’s Riflebird
  • Golden Bower bird
  • Mountain Thornbill

Australia has 726 bird species and three hundred of these, nearly half, have been recorded on the Atherton Tablelands, quite a significant number considering there are only 9,000 species of birds living on the earth.

Within a fifty kilometre radius of Tinaroo Dam (situated fifteen kilometres north-east of the township of Malanda) about five hundred bird species have been recorded, making this area without a doubt the premier bird site in Australia. Amongst these are some of Australia’s most spectacular parrots including the Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Australian King Parrot, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Double-eyed Fig Parrot, Crimson Rosella, Pale-headed Rosella and Red-winged Parrot.

The Atherton Tablelands (Cairns Highlands) has a strong tie with New Guinea as regards the flora and fauna. Many of the same bird species occur both in New Guinea and North Queensland such as the Southern Cassowary and Grey-headed Robin. Other birds migrate to North Queensland from New Guinea such as the Channel-billed Cuckoo, Dollarbird, Rainbow bee-eater and many more.
Over 50% of the bird species recorded at Rose Gums Wilderness Retreat are also native to New Guinea.

Tableland Birding Highlights

From Rose Gums Wilderness Retreat drive to:

Bromfield Swamp (20min): A unique volcanic crater with swamp land and home during the winter months to the Sarus Crane and the Brolga. Over 800 cranes fly into the crater in the evening after feeding in the nearby paddocks.

Lake Eacham (10 min): A volcanic crater lake set in the Crater Lakes National Park. See double-eyed Fig-Parrots and Grey-headed Robins.

Hasties Swamp (30 min): Features a 2-storey bird hide with excellent interpretative signage. See Pink-eared Ducks, Grey Teal, Wandering Whistlers, Magpie Geese and Plumed Whistling-ducks. The bird list is over 220 species.

Malanda Environmental Park (20 min): A special piece of remnant rainforest where tree kangaroos still reside and Atherton Scrub wrens are often spotted.

Mt Hypipamee (The Crater) NP (30 min): A mix of rainforest and wet sclerophyll. Look for the Southern Cassowary, tree kangaroo and Atherton Scrubwrens.

Nardello’s Lagoon (40 min): Just off the highway and features some wonderful waterbirds such as Black Swan and White-breasted Sea Eagle.

Mareeba Wetlands (80 min): A man made wet land that has an amazing variety of water birds and dry forest species such as Red-tailed Black Cockatoos and Babblers

Kaban near Ravenshoe (40 min): Little Lorikeets, Brown Treecreepers, and a great array of dry forest birds inhabit this part of the highlands.

Lake Barrine NP (15min): Rainforest Crater Lake.5kl walking track around lake. Rainforest birds.

Longlands Gap State Forest (30min): Rainforest and wet Sclerophyll forests feature the Golden Bowerbird.

Curtain Fig Tree State Forest Park (15min): Remnant rainforest with tree kangaroos and rainforest birds.

Danbulla State Forest which includes Lake Tinaroo (20 min): Rainforest and monsoon eucalypt woodland. View water birds as the drive follows the lake’s perimeter. There are several walks ranging from 500 metres to 5 kilometres.

Wongabel State Forest (30 min): A 2 kilometre rainforest walk just outside Atherton.

Davies Creek Falls NP (60 min): Monsoon eucalypt woodland with a wide variety of dry country birds. Good walks.

Cairns Esplanade (80 min): The mud flats provide wonderful viewing of waders right in the heart of the city.

Iron Range National Park (12 hours): For the more adventurous independent bird watcher try to make time to see such bird icons as the Ecclectus Parrot, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Manucode and Palm Cockatoo.