Chiara Talia

Birdwatching and Bird Photography in Australia: my itinerary and how I planned it

In December I did a trip I never thought I would do… I went all the way to Australia!

Australia has never been on my travel bucket list. I knew that actually Australian birds and wildlife was really unique… and I guess at a point I would have wanted to go – but I was just not considering doing in in the near future.

But then, life sometimes takes unexpected turns! Everything started because I received a wedding invitation from Melbourne! It was a very close family member of my boyfriend – so there were no choices. I had to go! In that moment I officially started the mission “Birding and Bird Photography in Australia” – and in this article I want to explain more how I ended up deciding on my trip and what my final itinerary looked like. As you might understand I also had some family duties down there. This explains why my itinerary was a bit unconventional, with some back and forth around the same city (Melbourne in my case). I tried my best to make the most out of time there – while also attending the “human-related events” 😉 

Planning my Trip

When it came to start planning my trip, I had to face a few challenges. 

  • SIZE: Australia is a huge. It is a continent – and I knew that. But I never really realized how big it was until I started looking at distances between places on Google maps. Basically, almost all European countries or continental USA can fit within Australia.
  • TIME: Size itself would not be a problem per se – for example if you have months/year to spend there it would be fine. But me (as many other oversea visitors) will likely have only a limited time available. In my case, I only had 3 weeks – it might sound as a long holiday period. It has been the longest time off I spent somewhere, but it was still way too short! The time available was a critical factor in deciding how to organize my trip.
  • LACK OF KNOWLEDGE: I have to admit I was very poorly informed about Australia as a country. I knew very little about the places and how to move around. I knew something about wildlife – but not enough to immediately choose where to go. This means I had to initiate a deep studying phase, with lots of research and reading. I had only a few months – my trip was in December but considering that was high season there I had to book everything well in advance.
  • DIVERSITY: strongly connected to its size, it is not surprising Australia has lots and lots to offer in terms of habitats, climate, wildlife, general vibes… Everything is so different depending on which part you are in. This huge diversity can easily lead to getting lost in the possibilities!

The other complicating factor was that, as mentioned earlier as I had a family event to attend, the middle part of my holidays was fixed – which had some implications for the logistics. 

So here’s the question: how did I practically decide where to go and for how long?


Well, first I had to clearly set the goal of my trip. That was not a hard part: it was birds (and wildlife) of course! I can say nature more generally – as I included also spots and locations of general natural/landscape interest.  For example, I didn’t want to miss a snorkelling experience in the Great Barrier Reef (although also there I was actually able to combine birding – I’ll tell you more about it :P). My itinerary was almost 100% nature-focused, with birds being my main target. So – perhaps not surprising – you will not see any mention of big cities down here with the exception of Melbourne which was a stop I could not negotiate.


After setting my goal, I started my research and study using a variety of resources. For getting to understand more about Australia in general I have used an Australia travel guide, travel blogs and I joined several Facebook groups about Australia travels. For my more in-depth research on birds and wildlife, I used a combination of Australian field guide (by Peter Menkhorst), eBird to select hotspots, websites of local nature organizations, Facebook groups on Australia birds and of course I started following Australian bird photographers on Instagram. The outcome of this was the selection of major areas of interest all around Australia.


At this point I had to go back to the practical considerations mentioned above related to the size and time available to narrow it down. I had to make a reasonable itinerary, making sure I had enough time and I was not just running from one place to another (which I have seen reading on Internet is something many people end up doing underestimating these factors). A big part of this phase was also “heart feeling” – when it came to make the final selection, I ended up choosing the places I liked more (based on what I was reading, the photos I was seeing or the birds I really wanted to find).  

My Itinerary

So this is how my final itinerary looked like at the end:

Day 1-3 [Melbourne]

 I flew with Emirates (Rome-Dubai-Melbourne). The total flight time was about 20 hours. It was my longest trip ever! I was a bit nervous about it, but everything went well. I managed to sleep, watched plenty of movies, read books and of course kept studying Australian birds. I used the first couple of days to recover from the long journey, some family time and start exploring Melbourne.

Day 4-11 [Tropical North Queensland]

 A 3-hour flight from Melbourne brought me to Far North Queensland – which is the northernmost part of the Australian state of Queensland. With a rental car, I explored the region between Cairns, Atherton Tablelands, Daintree and Cape Tribulation. It was a full week, spent mainly between rainforests and sandy beaches by the Ocean (including the Great Barrier Reef)… looking for some amazing birds.

Day 12-17 [Melbourne]:

 Coming back to Melbourne for the wedding and some more family time! I still managed to visit a few parks and nature reserves within the city looking for urban species. I had very nice encounters and I also did a longer trip to visit Philipp Island.

Day 18-20 [Tasmania]:

Luckily Tasmania is just 1-hour flight from Melbourne. Because my time there was really limited, I rented a car and explored only a very small part in the southern part of the island (Tasman peninsula and Bruny Island).



Day 21-22 [Melbourne]

Come back to Melbourne, say goodbye to family and journey back to Europe (again via Dubai). 


To sum it up… although Australia wasn’t on my bucket list, it turned out to be an amazing trip. I think I was just underestimating it because I wasn’t really aware of the amazing nature it can offer. So my advice is… do not wait for a wedding invitation to go there! In case you are planning a trip on your own, I can understand that it may sound as a daunting task. Especially if you have limited time as I had. The key word here is…research! 

I will go more in detail in each of my itinerary step in the next blog articles – covering more logistics, and of course introducing the fantastic birds I met there!

On my Instagram page, I have already been sharing lots about my Australian trip via Reels (short videos) and started sharing a few photo results– so make sure to check them! If you want to have a look at some higher resolution photos you can also check the new Australia section in my Portfolio.


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2 thoughts on “Birdwatching and Bird Photography in Australia: my itinerary and how I planned it”

  1. Ciao Chiara!
    I love this blog about your journey in Australia! It must have been soooo hard to get started with the reserch, with all that stuff to handle… I can barely imagine the huge effort behind this trip.
    The photos you took there are amazing!! I love the background colours you managed to get and of course the subjects too. The resolution here is muuuuuch better than on Instagram, I could appreciate much more the quality of the details.

    P.s.: Mi sentivo in soggezione a scrivere in italiano su un blog in inglese ahah

    1. Ciao Sefora! The multi-language is a struggle, I know! 😀 Anyway, thanks for leaving the comment. Instagram is a good platform, but it is a bit of a quality killer. And for the trip, it was really challenging. But I learnt a lot during the process – and the effort was largely paid back 🙂

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