There’s no shortage of world-famous mammals that call Australia home—the platypus, red kangaroo, and Tasmanian devil, to name a few—but when it comes to avifauna, this sprawling nation is certainly no slouch either. There are more than 800 different bird species residing in the country, ranging from tiny colorful passerines like the Gouldian finch to formidable flightless jungle dwellers that can deliver a nasty kick. Next time you’re planning a bucket list birding excursion, don’t miss out on these spectacular destinations for Australian ecotourism.
Broome Bird Observatory
Founded in 1988, the iconic Broome Bird Observatory offers an incredibly diverse array of birdlife all throughout the year. The secret to their success? This preserve is perched perfectly along the East Asian–Australasian Flyway, a zone that’s noted for its high avian biodiversity during migration season. Visitors to this Roebuck Bay-adjacent site can spot a massive array of shorebirds throughout the year, with a plethora of curlews, plovers, and sandpipers all gracing the region. Though wading birds are abundant, there’s also ample opportunity to spot a wealth of passerine species, with the yellow chat serving as a particularly rewarding tick.
Daintree National Park
Measuring in at more than 450 square miles, this northern Queensland preserve is home to sprawling old-growth rainforests, pristine beaches, and—of course—a massive array of native avian species. While there are hundreds of different birds that call Daintree National Park home, one of the most sought-after for visitors is certainly the cassowary. This colorful creature weighs in at over 100 pounds, making it one of the earth’s heaviest extant bird species. The cassowary is entirely flightless, but there’s no shortage of lighter flight-worthy specimens to watch for including Australian swiftlets, Papuan frogmouths, and a wide variety of native kingfishers.
Lord Howe Island
Located roughly 560 miles east of New South Wales, the picturesque Lord Howe Island may not be the easiest destination to get to, but its rich biodiversity certainly makes up for the lengthy journey. The island is rich with nesting seabirds ranging from masked boobies to wedge-tailed shearwaters, and endemic species like the Lord Howe golden whistler, Lord Howe silvereye, and Lord Howe currawong can all be spotted across the area. One species—the Lord Howe woodhen, to be precise—just barely escaped extinction, with just fifteen individuals found on the island in 1980. In the modern day, visitors can spot these flightless rails scurrying through the forest in search of worms, the product of a lengthy captive breeding program that’s brought their population back to sustainable levels.
Lamington National Park
Planning a visit to Australia’s picturesque Gold Coast? Be sure to head an hour inland to explore Lamington National Park, a 79-square-mile preserve that’s best known for its pristine temperate rainforests. A paradise for birders searching for threatened and endangered species, the boundaries of Lamington are home to megaticks like the eastern bristlebird and Albert’s lyrebird, while fascinating non-avian species like the Lamington crayfish and red-necked pademelon can also be found residing in the park. While the preserve is best known for its abundant native flora and fauna, it’s also a popular attraction thanks to its picturesque natural features, with hundreds of roaring waterfalls scattered across the area.
In the southeastern reaches of South Australia, a haven for threatened Australian wildlife exists in the form of Gluepot Reserve. Officially established in 1997 by BirdLife Australia, this preserve contains just under 200 different bird species, with no shortage of reptiles, mammals, and insects to spot as well. Though Gluepot Reserve is home to classic Australian avifauna like Australasian grebes, splendid fairywrens, and galahs, one of the most unique birds in the area is the black-eared miner. This endangered species has been extirpated from most of its ancestral home, but Gluepot Reserve remains one of the last strongholds on the continent, with hundreds of individuals residing within its boundaries.