Once your appetite for Brisbane’s cultural attractions and shopping is satisfied, it’s a good time to take a break in the surrounding countryside and get a closer look at the wildlife.
Brisbane is one of Australia’s largest cities and is ideally situated as a base for bird watching in southern Queensland.
One of the best known National Parks to visit south of Brisbane is Lamington National Park which provides excellent bird watching opportunities, especially for rainforest species. It’s an easy day trip from the city, although many people stay overnight in a local town to make the most of the area.
South of Brisbane are the Border Ranges and Lamington National Park is located on part of this range of hills. These ranges are the inland remains of a huge coastal, volcanic caldera that existed millions of years ago. Further south, Mt Warning National Park arises in the centre and has superb views of the caldera from the peak.
Lamington National Park
Lamington National Park is a World Heritage Area of 20,200 hectares of mixed high altitude forest habitats, including Antarctic Beech, sub-tropical rainforest and dry eucalypts. It’s two hours' drive south of Brisbane, and reached off the Pacific Highway at Beenleigh (Exit 35) via the villages of Tamborine and Canungra.
The Park has a good network of walking trails and more than 230 species of birds, including the much sought after and stunning, golden and black, Regent Bowerbird.
Another highlight are the Albert’s Lyrebird that are more often heard calling from within the sub-tropical rainforest. They are shy and difficult to see, but stalking a male bird calling in his repertoire of beautiful mimic calls, can produce good results. Black-breasted Button Quail are another challenge for the keen bird watcher as they forage in the leaf litter of the drier rainforest habitats and are scattered throughout the park. The Rufous Scrub bird is another cryptic bird with a loud, distinctive call in spring. It inhabits fern-lined stream-banks in the wet rainforest areas.
Premium Bird Watching
Lamington is well-known as one of Australia’s premium bird watching sites with easy viewing of other rainforest species such as the beautiful black, Satin Bowerbird, the mewling Green Catbird, the ground-foraging Logrunner, and the tiny Yellow-throated and White-browed Scrubwrens. In the more open areas are colourful Crimson Rosella, busy Lewin’s Honeyeater, and the flitting movements of the Superb Fairy Wren.
In spring and summer, there are good views of Whipbirds, Golden Whistlers, Eastern Yellow Robins and Black-faced Monarchs, from the trails, as well as Rufous Fantails and Rose Robins often hopping around foraging in lower branches and on the forest floor. When the forest trees are fruiting, they attract birds such as White-headed and Topknot Pigeons and the spectacular Wompoo Fruit-Dove. The migratory Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove usually only appears in spring and summer, while the Wonga Pigeons are more often seen foraging on the ground.
Raptors seen around the park include the fast flying Peregrine Falcon, the majestic Wedge-tailed Eagle, the pale Grey Goshawk, the striking Brahminy Kite and the Collared Sparrowhawk. If staying overnight, check out O’Reilly’s Retreat within Lamington National Park or a motel in nearby Binna Burra or Canungra.
More bird watching options
If you are staying longer in Brisbane there are many other good birding sites around the city. On the western outskirts of the city is the Brisbane Forest Park, just 15 kilometres from the CBD where Sooty Owl and Marbled Frogmouth are among the possible sightings. Around Slaughter Falls within the park, you may also see the resident pair of Powerful Owls, especially from April to August.
On the Brisbane coast, Moreton Bay is recognised as a wetland of international significance and boasts a number of good waders sites in the eastern suburbs, including at Sandgate, Wynnum, and Cleveland. Species such as Lesser Sand Plover, Eastern Curlew and Bar-tailed Godwit can be seen on the coast in summer.