After several months of pressure I finally succumbed to the families wishes to take a trip to Australia- the thought of the 24 hour trip there and back filled me with dread, due to the fact that I have never yet been able to successfully sleep on a plane! As usual we bought the constantly excellent Lonely Planet guides in conjunction with some internet research and decided on Queensland, and after a few days had laid down plans for a fly drive tour. We decided to go in May-June 2006 to take advantage of our son's schooling allowance of two weeks during term time for holidays, and tag these either side of the May half term (the notion that he would miss out on valuable education by taking a trip to the other side planet for three weeks is nearly laughable).
We decided to stay in south Queensland around Brisbane for a few days before flying north to Cairns and touring around Far North Queensland (FNQ) then flying out of Cairns for home.
Extreme weather previous to our visit had an effect on the birding during our trip in FNQ. In March Cyclone Larry decimated a broad area around the town of Inissfail not far from Mission Beach where we were to stay. Later on another Cyclone brought one of the wettest summers on record which meant that areas which were usually dry at this time of year were still wet, so consequently birds did not have to move too far for water.
The weather in Brisbane was surprisingly cool (we had our stereo typical expectations of Australia soon shattered!) around 18-22°C, but it remained dry and more important for me, mosquito free! In FNQ it was, not surprisingly, warmer and more humid with rain for the first couple of days but then generally dry and warmer 22-28°C.
The itinerary was as follows:
May 15th- Fly Heathrow-Brisbane via Singapore
May 17th – Arrive Brisbane
May 22nd-27th – Mission Beach
May 28th -30th - Daintree
May 30th- June 2nd – Malanda
June 2nd -5th – Cairns
Prior to the trip I obtained Simpson and Day Field Guide to the Birds of Australia and trawled through as many trip reports as I could for site information. Many of the accommodation we researched online had references to birding or had bird lists, especially in FNQ. We flew with the truly excellent Qantas on all flights. Being a single-birder family some compromises inevitably had to be made… but not too many (Thanks guys!)