Mallee and Outback Birds of Victoria and Mungo

AT A GLANCE

Dates3–10 March 2022
20–27 October 2022

(If the dates listed are not suitable, please contact our team travel@australiangeographic.com or call 0413 560 210 to enquire about alternative dates if you prefer to travel with your own private party)

(This tour can be combined with the Tawny Frogmouths and Sandpipers – You Yangs & Port Phillip Bay and coastal RAMSAR sites, please email to travel@australiangeographic.com or call 0413 560 210 to find out how)
Activity levelModerate
Duration8 days, 7 nights
Tour starts in Melbourne and ends in Mildura
PricesFrom $4720 per person twin share
From $920 single supplement
Group sizeMinimum 4, maximum 6 guests
Featuring regionsCentral and north-western Victoria, Bendigo National Park, Lake Tyrell, Mallee country, Hattah Kulkyne National Park, Lake Mungo, Willandra lakes

WHAT TO EXPECT

An 8-day birding journey to reveal the marvelous birdlife of arid central and north western Victoria and Lake Mungo. We cross the Great Dividing Range and travel deeper into the Outback in search of the birds and other wildlife that thrive in diverse habitats in the arid zones. We explore ancient granite outcrops, vast open plains, Ramsar-listed ephemeral wetlands, outback rivers, salt lakes, Mallee woodlands, saltbush scrublands, undulating red dunes, ancient lakes of the Willandra World Heritage Area, the Lake Mungo Lunette (Walls of China). Taking our time we look for numerous desert parrots and cockatoos, waterbirds, a host of honeyeaters, more obvious inland birds as well as some of the more elusive and conservation-dependent Mallee birds, like Malleefowl and Mallee emu-wren. While we will be focussing on birds we also take time to observe mammals, reptiles, invertebrates, flora, landscapes and the rich heritage of the Willandra Lakes area.

CITIZEN SCIENCE COMPONENT ON THIS TOUR

Guides carry a spotting scope and a small library of field guides. All guests will be provided with species checklists, which guides assist with and also complete online checklists of birds seen. Other significant species are also recorded and submitted to the appropriate online atlasses. These wildlife surveys are very important ‘Citizen Science’ contributions and play a significant role in assisting scientists and others to understand the major changes that are occurring in the world and help steer conservation efforts.

ITINERARY

Day 1: Melbourne to Bendigo via Mount Korong Conservation Reserve (pick ups commence from 8.00am)

Picks ups will commence from your individual Melbourne hotel from 8.00am. Please advise us which hotel you are staying at so we can arrange your pick up. Alternatively, why not let our friendly team help to recommend a hotel for you to stay in Melbourne. 

We head north from Melbourne city passing over the tail end of the Great Dividing Range and continue to Mt Korong scenic reserve.  Ancient granite hills rise above the surrounding plains providing remarkable scenery.  

The reserve and surrounding covenanted properties protect important woodland bird habitat that supports raptors like wedge-tailed eagle, peregrine and brown falcons as well as white-browed babbler, Gilbert’s whistler, rainbow bee-eater, Southern whiteface and diamond firetail. We occasionally see painted honeyeater, red-backed kingfisher and white-backed swallow. Along with woodland birds the reserve also provides opportunity for seeing kangaroos, wallabies, echidna and reptiles like shingleback lizard, marbled gecko and Jacky dragon.

After a picnic lunch we may visit other nearby reserves like Kooyoora State Park or Inglewood Conservation Reserve.  Later in the afternoon we check into our accommodation in the regional city of Bendigo, where we stay for two nights. This former gold rush boom town has many Victorian era heritage listed buildings and city parks attract many birds.

Accommodation: Best Western Cathedral Inn, Bendigo

Lunch and dinner provided.

Day 2: Greater Bendigo National Park

Today we explore parts of the vast Greater Bendigo National Park like the bird-rich Kamarooka and Whipstick sections.  These areas protect large stands of heathland, grey box and Mallee eucalyptus woodland. It’s a crossover point for northern and southern honeyeaters attracted to the flowering trees. Local water holes attract numerous species as the day warms up.

In the afternoon we visit the Bendigo sewage works with its conservation ponds and red gum woodlands along the Bendigo creek.  This is a great area for waterfowl, raptors and forest birds including red-capped robin, shy heathwren, brush bronzewing, peaceful dove, white-fronted, fuscous, yellow-tufted, tawny-crowned and purple-gaped honeyeater, brown treecreeper.  In the evening we may be lucky to see grey-headed flying foxes in some of the leafy parks in the city centre.

Accommodation: Best Western Cathedral Inn, Bendigo

Breakfast, lunch and dinner provided

Day 3: Bendigo to Ouyen via Mt Terrick NP, Kerang Lakes and Lake Tyrell

This morning we head north to Mt Terrick National Park, where granite outcrops are surrounded by dry woodland, including one of Victoria’s largest remaining stands of White Cypress Pine.  The area is great for arid bird species as well as providing panoramic views over the surrounding Northern Grassland plains of the Riverina region.

After this we continue across the Riverina plains to the Kerang Lakes. Depending on water levels and bird species present we will visit some of the permanent and ephemeral lakes in the area. Some contain large ibis rookeries and others sometimes have good numbers of waders, waterfowl and terns. Later we visit one of Australia’s largest salt lakes, Lake Tyrrell.  This is a vast salt-crusted shallow depression, intermittently with a thin layer of water (after good rains). Great place for a leg stretch and a few photos and the shrublands in the south provide good habitat for rufous fieldwren, black-faced woodswallow and white-winged fairy-wren. 

In the late afternoon we arrive at our accommodation in the small Mallee town of Ouyen.

Accommodation: Hilltop Motel, Ouyen

Breakfast, lunch and dinner provided.

Day 4: Hattah Kulkyne National Park

Continuing deeper into Mallee country we enjoy a full day in Hattah Kulkyne National Park with its Mallee and Cypress pine woodlands, saltbush scrub and ephemeral lakes system. The semi-permanent lakes here are Ramsar-listed Wetlands of International Importance and sustain large water bird populations in good years as well as many parrots and raptors, including white-bellied sea-eagle and little eagle. Large red gum and black box trees provide nesting hollows for many parrots and we may see regent parrot, mallee ringneck, yellow rosella, bluebonnet, crested bellbird and peaceful dove and the picnic grounds are a great place to look for comical flocks of apostlebirds.

We spend time looking for some of the shier species living in the Mallee-spinifex woodlands in the western part of the reserve. Mallee eucalyptus with an understory of spinifex grass is the ideal habitat for the elusive Mallee emu-wren, striated grasswren, shy heathwren and chestnut quail-thrush.

Emus are regularly seen and we also keep an eye out for western grey kangaroos and reptiles like lace and sand goannas, shinglebacks and bearded dragons.

Accommodation: Hilltop Motel, Ouyen

Breakfast, lunch and dinner provided.

Day 5:  Ouyen to Lake Mungo via Private Conservation Reserve (Malleefowl)

We spend the morning with a local guide on a private property that protects important malleefowl habitat.  The 6000-acre property contains a mix of established mallee woodland, newly re-vegetated areas and open areas. Several malleefowl mounds are present and we hope to see these incredible mound-builders, as well as desert parrots and honeyeaters from carefully placed hides and at waterpoints. Listed as vulnerable, and covering a fraction of their former range, malleefowl conservation relies on the combined efforts of regional recovery teams, government and private landowners to control predators and protect remaining habitat from fires and land clearing.

After a picnic lunch we cross the Murray river before continuing to Mungo Lodge. Enroute we enter the vast – 2,400sq.km – Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area (WHA) and walk along an ancient ‘fossilised’ watercourse that gave its name to this gigantic lake system. This is the Willandra Creek that, like the entire system, has been dry for 18,000 years. After checking in at the lodge we enter Lake Mungo National Park and watch the sunset over the dry bed of Lake Mungo, a magical experience. We often have our first sightings of red kangaroos and some of the desert parrots, like mulga parrot and mallee ringneck.

Accommodation: Mungo Lodge (three nights)

Breakfast, lunch and dinner provided.

Day 6 and 7: Lake Mungo National Park

We have two full days to explore this famous national park, with its rich cultural history and varied ecosystems. Now dry, Lake Mungo has been a living place for Aboriginal people for at least 50,000 years. The dunes beside the lake have eroded to expose the oldest human living site on earth which is the main reason for the creation of the World Heritage Area. Another reason for WHA status is a unique layer of exposed megafauna skeletal remains that tell of a cooler, wetter time in Australia when giant marsupials and Aboriginal people coexisted beside a magnificent freshwater lake system. 

We travel through a diverse array of habitats varying from dense mallee woodlands, cypress pine/buloke woodlands, mulga scrub and vast expanses of saltbush. Huge white sand dunes rise high above the dry lake beds and have been eroded in some areas allowing burrowing birds like the white-backed swallow to build their nests. We take our time to explore the fauna and flora of the different habitats and also to uncover some of the cultural heritage of this important area. Over these two days we expect to see many western grey and red kangaroos. On the bird front, among many others we will be looking for emu, pink cockatoo, mulga parrot, bluebonnet, chestnut-crowned babbler, crested bellbird, splendid, white-winged & purple-backed fairywren, chestnut quail-thrush, black-faced, masked & white-browed woodswallow, white-backed swallow, orange chat, zebra finch. Reptiles we may encounter are sand monitor, bearded, painted & mallee dragon, shingleback and Bynoe’s gecko.

Accommodation: Mungo Lodge

Breakfast, lunch and dinner provided.

Day 8: Mungo to Mildura Airport

After an optional early morning birding walk we have breakfast before making our way back to Wentworth. We visit the confluence of the iconic Murray and Darling rivers. Over the water and along the banks we keep an eye out for Caspian tern, Australasian darter, white-bellied sea-eagle, whistling kite, yellow rosella and blue-faced honeyeater. The journey ends around midday at Mildura airport (onward flight not included) or your Mildura hotel (not included) for those staying on. Why not stay longer and have some time to explore, ask our friendly team for suggestions.

Breakfast provided.

WHAT’S INCLUDED:

  • Seven nights accommodation as per itinerary
  • Experienced wildlife guide(s) throughout days 1–8
  • Sightseeing as per itinerary by private, air-conditioned charter vehicle
  • Meals included: daily breakfast, 7 x lunches, 7 x dinners
  • Goods and Services Tax

COSTS DO NOT INCLUDE:

  • Domestic or international airfares
  • Pre-registration, late check-out or day use at hotels other than specified above
  • Guide services other than specified
  • Meals/beverages other than specified
  • Tips & gratuities
  • Optional tours/services

COVID-19

Until further notice: from 1st October 2021 we will require that all participants on our tours must be fully vaccinated with a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved vaccine against Covid-19 with the final dose administered no later than two weeks prior to departure. See terms and conditions for more details.

  • Accommodation and meals:  Strict hygiene conditions apply to the way accommodation is prepared for your stay and in the serving of meals.
  • Vehicles, hygiene & social distancing: all activities will involve careful adherence to cleanliness. Hand sanitiser will be available in many locations and in all land-based vehicles and water-based vessels. Social distancing will always be an issue on board vehicles and vessels; it would be sensible for you to bring your own face masks and hand sanitiser. We may not fill all seats in a vehicle to allow for social distancing.
  • The VIC government approved COVID-19 Safety Plan is in place and all suppliers are Covid Clean accredited.

CONTACT US

Want to know more or register your interest?

Send us an email to travel@australiangeographic.com or call 0413 560 210.

We look forward to hearing from you !

TERMS & CONDITIONS

BOOKING FORM