thank-you and more travel-planning questions

Subject: thank-you and more travel-planning questions
From: Katrina Knight <>
Date: Tue, 13 Jan 2009 22:15:11 -0500
Thank-you to everyone who replied to my earlier RFI. I hope I thanked you all individually, but I may have missed one or two of you. I got a lot of really helpful information.

Now that we've got some more definite plans, I'm ready to ask more questions. We've thrown out our grand train-ride plan because we decided there are just too many other things to do. The current plan is to spend time in four areas, as follows:
26 Feb - 4 March  - Sydney area
4 March - 11 March  - Cairns area
12 March - 18 March  - Melbourne area
18 March - 24 March  - Tasmania

This trip isn't meant to be a birding trip as such, but I intend to do plenty of birding. We're going to rent cars in Cairns, Melbourne and Hobart but not Sydney. I think I've got the Sydney segment of the trip pretty well figured out with one exception. We're going to spend a couple of days in Katoomba and since we won't have a car, what we do is going to be confined to where we can get to via mass transit. Suggestions on where the best choices for seeing birds there are would be appreciated. We're staying at the YHA hostel in Katoomba and as far as I can tell the buses there don't start running until sometime after 9 in the morning, so I think I need to find some places I can walk to for birding in the early morning if possible. The other question I have about Sydney is whether anyone knows of a bookstore that sells a good selection of bird and natural history books. I know about Andrew Isles books in Melbourne, but we're going to be halfway through our trip before we get there.

For the Cairns segment of the trip, we're going to Michaelmas Cay one day and we're spending two nights at Red Mill House in Daintree. I think we're going to drive around the Atherton Tablelands one day as well. Does that seem like it will give me a reasonable chance of seeing a wide selection of birds? Is there anyplace important that I'm leaving out? Our last day in Cairns doesn't have anything particular scheduled and we don't fly out until 1935 so we have most of that day to do something else as long as it doesn't take us too far from Cairns. Is there any place that is particularly good to look for cassowaries?

For the Melbourne part of the trip, we're planning on going to Werribee one day and to Philip Island for a couple days. I'm not sure what we're going to do for the rest of that week. I've gotten a bunch of suggestions, all of which sound good but some of which are simply too far to go in the time we have. Where would be the best places to go for day trips that would let us see habitat types that we won't see at Werribee and Philip Island? Not boring my sister to death is part of the selection criteria here, so the places we go need to be interesting apart from just seeing birds or they need to be places we aren't goint to stay at long.

Tasmania is the one spot I didn't get much information about after my original request for information, probably because we hadn't actually decided to go there yet at that point. We're thinking about a boat tour and a spot-lighting tour with a company called Sealife Experience out of Dunalley. Is anyone familiar with their tours? We're also thinking of going to Tahune one day and spending a couple of nights in the vicinity of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair. Any thoughts and recommendations on this part of the plan would be really appreciated. I haven't had much luck finding information about birding in Tasmania, so any links to useful websites would also be appreciated.

I'm having a hard time with planning this trip because I just don't know enough to have a feel for what I'm doing. I feel like I need a crash course in migratory and breeding patterns of Australian birds so that I have a clue what is reasonable to be looking for and what isn't. I want reference books that either don't exist or can't be found here. Having books sent half-way around the world so that I can turn around and carry them back again isn't practical at this point. We've arranged to meet local birders is a few places, but we'd be delighted if anyone else wants to go out with us. Birding with someone who knows the area is always helpful and I enjoy meeting people.

Katrina Knight

Reading, PA, USA


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