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Australia holds some of theworld's finest remainingwilderness areas. Its scenicdiversity and fascinating wildlife is difficultto match. It is, though, a vast spread, anddifficult to digest without extendedexploration. Queensland, by contrast, offersthe continent in microcosm, much of thebest of its varied habitats lying within ashort distance of Cairns. Indeed, within a'stone's throw' lie palm-fringed beaches,the coral reefs and colourful fish of theGreat Barrier Reef, the tropical rainforestsof the Daintree World Heritage Site and thelakes and rolling grassy uplands of theAtherton Tablelands, with their patches ofupland rainforest and eucalyptus. Amongstthese habitats we will look for the numeroustropical bird species that occur - parrots,cassowaries, Emus, colourful kingfishers,birds-of-paradise, bowerbirds, honeyeatersand exotic seabirds. We should also see awide range of mammals including Duck-billed Platypus, tree-kangaroos, flyingfoxes, gliders, possums, and a variety ofdifferent kangaroos and wallabies.We begin in Cairns, a neat, town-sized citywith a magnificent backdrop of rugged,rainforested hills and overlooking a tidal,mangrove-lined bay that attracts a wealthof waterbirds. Pelicans, egrets, spoonbills,ibises, waders, terns and other wetlandbirds may all be enjoyed as we spend ourfirst day on Australian soil strolling alongthe Esplanade. We will also walk in theBotanical Gardens, getting a feel for theregion's tropical vegetation, and lookingfor such colourful bird specialities as theDouble-eyed Fig Parrot; then, as a tropicaldusk descends on the leafy city, the air fillswith ghostly flying foxes bound for theirfavourite fruit trees!For two days we will explore the GreatBarrier Reef. This is the world's largestexpanse of coral reef, still growing aftermore than 10,000 years and stretchingover 2,000 kilometres from Papua NewGuinea along Queensland's coast. It ishome to over 15,000 species of fish, 400types of hard and soft coral, 400 molluscspecies and six kinds of turtle. We beginwith a short cruise to Green Island, namedby Captain Cook in 1770 and proclaimed anational park in 1924. This forested islandlies on the inner reef and offers goodsnorkelling, gentle rainforest walks, andbirds such as breeding Black Noddies andEmerald Doves. We will follow this with afull day's cruise to Michaelmas Cay on theouter reef. Here we are able to enjoy awide range of underwater activities, as wellas breeding colonies of Brown Noddy, andSooty, Bridled and Crested Terns.Alongside them, Brown Boobies, Greatand Lesser Frigatebirds may also be seen.Those who prefer not to snorkel or diveneed not worry; underwater observatoriesand comfortable glass-bottomed'submarines' allow easy access to theremarkable show of colourful fish andcorals beneath the water. The Atherton Tablelands are an area ofattractive upland dairy farming country,broken by pockets of high altituderainforest, lakes and wetlands. Stayingclose to the beautiful crater lakes ofEacham and Barrine, we will look for someof the region's endemic birds andmammals in nearby rainforest and at thefamous 'Cathedral' and 'Curtain' Fig trees.Wompoo Fruit Dove, Chowchilla, AthertonScrubwren, Victoria's Riflebird (one ofAustralia's birds-of-paradise) and theobliging Musky Rat Kangaroo may beamongst the highlights. We will alsoarrange optional night-drives to look forowls, flying foxes, tree-kangaroos, gliders,possums and Duck-billed Platypus. Not far to the north lies Julatten, a villagesituated in well forested farming countryjust south of the Daintree National Park.Surrounded by rainforest and farmland,and close to the dry bushland of interiorQueensland and the magnificent MountLewis, the variety of birds in this area isexceptional. The chalets here are runexclusively for those interested in wildlife,and the surrounding rainforest and wetlandare a birdwatcher's paradise. Nearby, wewill explore the ambling Daintree River andrugged Daintree rainforest. This is amagnificent spot, best explored on earlymorning and evening boat trips along theDaintree River. Exploring the backwaters ofthis magnificent river, as the morning mistsrise, is usually rewarded with abundantbirdlife, including the rare Great-billedHeron, Black Bittern, Little Kingfisher andPapuan Frogmouth. On an evening or night-time cruise we will expect to seeEstuarine Crocodiles and nocturnalpossums and gliders.We now fly to Brisbane and drive up intosouth-east Queensland's coastal mountainrange where the magnificent LamingtonNational Park encompasses Australia'smost extensive remaining tract ofsubtropical rainforest and one of its richestwildlife areas. Amongst its mountainpeaks, cliffs and gorges lies O'Reilly's, afamily-run guesthouse. King Parrots, Satinand Regent Bowerbirds, Noisy Pittas,Paradise Riflebird and Albert's Lyrebird areamongst the numerous bird specialities,whilst Short-beaked Echidna, WhiptailWallaby, Red-necked Pademelon, NorthernBrown Bandicoot and Feather-tailed Gliderare just some of the fascinating marsupialsthat we may see during our walks here. Having seen some of the very best ofAustralia, and enjoyed standards ofaccommodation, fine wines and deliciousseafood that are not normally associatedwith rainforest exploration, it will not beeasy to return home! The range ofpossibilities for a holiday extension,however, are mouthwatering!Queensland's Rainforests& Great Barrier ReefA 16-day appreciation of the feast of tropical birdlife, unique mammals and unrivalled marine-life to be found on the Great Barrier Reef, the Atherton Tablelands, and in the Daintree and Lamington National Parks; indeed, the very best of Australia! Saturday 31st August - Sunday 15th September Cost: £5,695 Outline itineraryDay 1/2Depart London/in flight.Day 3/5Cairns and Barrier Reef.Day 6/7Atherton Tablelands.Day 8/11Julatten and Daintree.Day 12Fly Brisbane andtransfer to LamingtonNational Park.Day 13/14Lamington National Park.Day 15Depart Brisbane.Day 16Arrive London.Accommodation A mixture of comfortable hotels andchalets, all with private facilities.FoodAll included in the price.Grading Gentle birdwatching walks at mostsites; all easy and optional. Grade A.FocusQueensland's natural heritage andwildlife, especially birds andmammals.LeaderCarol Iles, plus local guides. Single room supplement£950.ExtensionsGladly arranged, on request, to allparts of Australia. Our suggestionsinclude Alice Springs and AyersRock; Perth and south-westernAustralia (during the wild flowerseason); Kakadu and KatherineGorge; Sydney and New SouthWales; Tasmania; not to mentionthe visit to friends and relations!Web quick search: AUS02 262Call now or visit your free Trip ItineraryATHERTONTABLELANDSLAMINGTONBRISBANENATIONAL PARKDAINTREENATIONAL PARKCAIRNSQUEENSLANDGREAT BARRIER REEF Southern CassowaryLumholtz's Tree KangarooGreen Island, Great Barrier Reef

Tasmania, separated from themainland of Australia since the lastIce Age, has developed a uniquecharacter of its own. A dramatic andspectacular island, strewn with ruggedmountain ranges and wild forests, itsupports a natural history that is rich andoften bizarre. This comprehensive tourpresents an opportunity to enjoy the verybest of Tasmania's wild landscapes anddistinctive selection of birds, plants andmammals, including such appealingcreatures as fairy wrens and FairyPenguins, Echidnas, Wombats, Platypus,Pademelons and Tasmanian Devils!We begin and end our holiday in Hobart,from where we are able to explore MountWellington in search of the manyTasmanian endemic bird species whichoccur here, amongst them Green Rosella,Dusky Robin, Scrubtit, Brown andTasmanian Thornbills, Black Currawongand Black-headed, Yellow-throated andStrong-billed Honeyeaters as well as manyother colourful and interesting species. To the south, on Bruny Island, we nextexplore another stronghold of endemicbirds and, as well as such species asTasmanian Native-hen and YellowWattlebird, we will be looking for theisland's speciality, the Forty-spottedPardalote, one of Australia's mostendangered species. As dusk draws in, wewill settle into position for the spectacle ofLittle Blue (or Fairy) Penguins and Short-tailed Shearwaters that come in from theocean to their burrows each evening. Onanother evening we will head out afterdark to spotlight for quolls (native cats),possums and wallabies, following a day-time cruise from Bruny in search ofseabirds. Being so far south, some of theSouthern Ocean cormorants, albatrosses,petrels, shearwaters and terns may beseen, as well as dolphins, seals andperhaps even a Southern Right Whale. Next we will visit Mount Field, Tasmania'sfirst national park which was established in1917. It offers the wild, diverse andprimeval beauty of the Tasmanian 'bush',with forests of giant trees and huge treeferns, plus, at higher levels, a uniquealpine flora, particularly towards thesummit of the mountain. Similarly, withsuch a wide range of altitudes andhabitats within the park, a great diversityof both birds and mammals may be found,the latter including many that are eitherextinct or endangered on the mainlandsuch as the Eastern Quoll and the EasternBarred Bandicoot. Indeed, it was near here- in the Florentine Valley in 1933 - thatthe world's last Tasmanian Tiger wastrapped, to be displayed in Hobart Zoo forthe rest of its sad days. We now head into the TasmanianWilderness World Heritage Area, a vastexpanse of contingent national parks andconservation areas that protects one of thelast great temperate wilderness regions inthe world. It includes the Southwest,Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers and CradleMountain-Lake St. Clair National Parks,and protects a stunning range of ancientlandforms and forests, deep and wildrivers, narrow gorges, jagged mountainpeaks and sub-alpine moorlands. Here wewill make a spectacular journey on theWest Coast Wilderness Railway, whichlargely follows the course of the KingGeorge River through this vast andvirtually impenetrable wilderness, taking usfrom the old mining town of Queenstownto Strahan, on the west coast. Here we willcruise the waters of the vast andmagnificent Macquarie Harbour, enclosedby a magical and pristine environment ofwild rivers and forests of Huon Pine, anendemic tree species which can live to beover 2,000 years old, making it one of thelongest living species on Earth! We continue our exploration of thismagnificent wilderness by visiting CradleMountain-Lake St. Clair National Park, oneof the most dramatic and spectacularlandscapes of Australia and a great placein which to find some of Tasmania'smammals. These include such species asRufous-bellied Pademelon, Bennett'sWallaby, Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Wombat,Echidna, Tasmanian Devil and Spot-tailedQuoll. The park also offers great walkingopportunities and an abundant birdlife. A night in Launceston gives us time to visitthe nearby Cataract Gorge before we travelto the beautiful Freycinet Peninsula with itsstunning white sandy beaches andspectacular views towards the pink granitemountains of the Hazard Range. The parkcontains around 145 of Tasmania's 230 birdspecies, due to the high diversity of habitatsand associated plants found here, and wewill devote a day to its exploration from ourbase in nearby Bicheno. We will also spendan evening watching Little Blue Penguins asthey come ashore to their nesting burrows. Back in Hobart for our final night inTasmania, prior to our homeward flight,there will be a chance to re-visit MountWellington in search of any of the endemicbirds that we may have missed during thiscomprehensive tour.Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationTASMANIATASMANSEASOUTHERNOCEANBASS STRAITLAUNCESTONCRADLE MOUNTAIN-LAKE ST. CLAIRNATIONAL PARKBICHENOSTRAHANQUEENSTOWNNEWMOUNT FIELDNORFOLKNATIONAL PARKHOBARTBRUNYISLANDFREYCINETNATIONAL PARKOutline itineraryDay 1Depart London.Day 2In flight.Day 3Arrive Hobart.Day 4/5Bruny Island.Day 6Mount Field NationalPark.Day 7Queenstown.Day 8/9Strahan.Day 10/11Cradle Mountain-LakeSt. Clair National Park. Day 12Launceston.Day 13/14Bicheno and FreycinetNational Park.Day 15Hobart.Day 16Depart Hobart.Day 17Arrive London.AccommodationA mixture of comfortable hotel,motel and chalet accommodation,most with private facilities.FoodAll included in the price.GradingA/B. Wildlife walks, some moderatebut optional, and cruises.FocusThe unique fauna, flora andwilderness regions of Tasmania. LeaderRuth Brozek, plus local guides.Single room supplement£950.ExtensionsGladly arranged on request.Web quick search: AUS03 263Tasmania - The Wilderness IsleA 17-day holiday focusing exclusively on the unique and special wildlife to be found in the rugged and spectacular wilderness regions of a very special island. Friday 26th October - Sunday 11th November 2012 Cost: £5,495Friday 25th October - Sunday 10th November 2013 Cost: £6,495WombatForty-spotted PardaloteCradle Mountain