Australian Wildlife Overview Tour (3-day wildlife tour from Brisbane) - we usually stay at either
we may stay elsewhere if there is flooding of roads,
closure of tracks in national parks, or our guests
booking for that week have a specialised interest that
is better served elsewhere.
Our outback tours combine camping, country pubs, motels and other outback accommodation
Our Bunya Mountain and Girraween tours use a lovely chalets near the forest or woodland
Girraween National Park
There are two excellent accommodation choices near Girraween, to be selected by our guests on booking
Custom tours use a variety of accommodation types, depending on the wishes of our guests and the available accommodation in areas of interest, and can range from a hammock under the stars to a 5-star hotel
"it really does look like the photos!" was the delighted comment of one of our guests.
Both nights of the accommodated version of the 3-day (2 night) Australian wildlife Overview tour are spent at Cougal Park. , and tell us how wonderful the meals are (which we're already well aware of - Elizabeth is one of the best cooks we know, and also a talented wildlife artist), how comfortable the beds are and how they enjoy the company of their hosts Hugh and Elizabeth.
Set in 400 acres of tall forest adjoining the Border Ranges National Park, Hugh and Elizabeth work hard to maximise the conservation of the flora and fauna on their property, which includes a number of threatened species, and are also devoted to giving their guests a great experience, whether their desires are primarily birding, nature photography, forest walks or just relaxing and soaking in the beautiful surroundings.
Elizabeth is also a talented wildlife artist, and her paintings adorn the walls of the living room and bedrooms. Custom tours may also spend one or more nights here, whether en route to somewhere else, or just to spend a couple of days or more relaxing and unwinding in the forest (or on the verandah watching the many birds that visit the garden and surrounding forest).
Like to just relax here for a couple of days or more, watching birds from the verandah as you enjoy coffee and home-made bread, listening for koalas at night or wandering the forest paths? The three-day wildlife overview tour is designed to maximise wildlife viewing, with fairly full days, and altering the schedule means less opportunity for this (the animals won't oblige by altering their own daily schedules). If you would prefer to just relax at Cougal Park for a couple of days or more, we can with sufficient notice arrange a different kind of our for you (preferably not a Wednesday-Friday) which can include some wildlife-viewing or other activities en route and plenty of free time once you're there.
This camping and picnic reserve is adjacent to the Araucaria home property and the Mt Chinghee National Park. It is used by guests taking the budget/camping option on the 3-day Australian Wildlife Overview tour, the wildlife weekends and themed nature study weekends.
It is a 'primitive' campsite in that it has toilets and picnic shelters but no showers (but we can provide a 'bush shower' for our guests), and there are no numbered sites, guests being able to pitch one of our tents wherever they wish.
Araucaria provides tents, sleeping bags and sheets, comfortable mattresses, pillows, wind-up lanterns and other necessities for camping. We ask guests to assist in erecting tents, as it gets rather time-consuming otherwise - although we do understand if you are not physically fit enough to help. When there are guests staying at Cougal Park as well as campers, all dine together at night at Cougal, but if we only have campers for that week, we head to the Rathdowney Hotel, a typical Aussie country pub (with good hearty country meals), both nights, and provide a breakfast pack for the morning.
Guests on the budget wildlife weekends provide their own meals (we stop en route for supplies, and provide freezer bags and cooking equipment, and can also stop at cafes for lunches or take you to the Rathdowney pub for a night time meal). Since our emphasis is on wildlife-viewing, which is best early morning, late afternoon and evening, we suggest you do not plan a lengthy meal at night - it is best to either have something quick and simple, or - if you really want something that takes a long time to prepare and eat, plan this for lunch, or for late afternoon (before platypus-spotting and nocturnal searches - best choice in summer) or later at night after the nocturnal search (best choice in winter).
The campsite is adjacent to eucalypt forest, seasonally-dry rainforest and a tree-lined creek harbouring platypus, turtles, eels and catfish and frequented by azure kingfishers, cormorants, ducks and herons. The campground itself is often visited by day by cockatoos, lapwings and other birds, and by night by wallabies, possums, frogs and owls (and very occasionally koalas).
Outback accommodation and campingThis is not a luxury trip but we do value comfort, safety and enjoyment of the "dinkum" (genuine) Australian outback (some call any rural areas "outback" but this is misleading). There are no five-star or even four-star hotels after we pass the first few hundred kilometres. We head far away from the crowds - just wide open spaces, a variety of outback habitats, plenty of kangaroos, cockatoos and emus, and brilliantly starry skies. "I didn't see nearly as much wildlife on my package tour to Uluru" one lady told us.
We spend one night camping by the Paroo River in tents or hammocks - whichever you prefer. Our own preference is a hammock, to watch the progression of the stars as the earth revolves through the night, for pelicans, kangaroos and other wildlife that might happen by, and to watch the sun rising over the river from the comfort of our "beds". If the eucalypts are in flower we awaken to a rich chorus of bird calls.
The quaint little country pubs of local small towns (Hungerford and Eulo) add their own charm to the experience, and provide hearty and tasty meals (the Eulo Queen Hotel even has award-winning sausages). At Hungerford the 'dunny' (toilet) and shower are 'out the back' (just a short stroll by starlight or torchlight) but at Eulo you may get a cabin with its own bathroom. A recent addition to our itinerary is a night at Bowra station, recently purchased by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, and boasting a great diversity of birds and other wildlife. Here we stay in shearer's quarters. It may sound a bit rough, but the beds are comfy in all these places and we always have a good sleep after a hot, filling meal. And in the morning, instead of waking to traffic or typical tourist activities you can stroll from your bed to look for kangaroos and outback birds right in the town or on its outskirts, and get a feeling for the wide open spaces so typical of Australia.
Our first and last nights (also an extra night or two if extending to include Charleville) are spent in conventional motels with en suites.
Note: we head to remote areas, but we always have a two-way radio and plenty of extra supplies (water, packaged food ...) should we ever get stranded anywhere (and so far we never have).
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Here we stay in a delightful timber chalet near the forest, with birdsong and wallabies close by in the early morning or towards dusk, and a cosy fireplace for winter evenings. The forest is just down the driveway and across the road. Walking in the early morning mists is a delight.
Girraween Environmental Lodge:
Rooms with a view! Enjoy refreshments on the verandah, wake up to bird calls and kangaroos outside your window
If you feel like a nice hot soak, you can indulge within your cabin or wait until the outdoor spa is turned each afternoon and relax there amongst the rocks and trees. A cosy fireplace is very welcome on chilly evenings.
Another top choice is the lovely Twinstar Guesthouse, down the road from Giraween. The host is an experienced amateur astronomer, and will take us out to this observatory (just behind the guest house) on clear nights to take us on a tour of the solar system, the galaxy and beyond
Twinstar verandah, showing Observatory in the background
Possibilities vary greatly depending on what our guests desire.
We have for instance included camping at various sites, Binna Burra Lodge (Lamington National Park) cabins at Tweed Heads, Fingal, Myall Lakes and Minnee Waters, motels en route to various destinations, campgrounds at Brunswick Heads, and hotels in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Sydney on various customised tours.
We can also, at the end of a birding tour to Lamington National Park, leave our guests at either O'Reily's Raiforest Retreat or Binna BurraLodge, to spend a night or more and arrange their return to Brisbane either by picking them up several days later or working in with another tour company.