REGION 3. GIPPSLAND
Wilsons Promontory National Park
One of Victoria’s most loved National Parks for its rugged beauty, “The Prom” as it is affectionately known is the southernmost tip of mainland Australia and a great place to go birding. There are great camping and hiking opportunities, it does however get extremely busy in holidays through summer.
Getting there: Leave Melbourne on the Monash Freeway, and follow signs for the South Gippsland Highway. Some 230 kms south east of Melbourne, allow at least three hours travel time.
Cape Liptrap Coastal Park and Andersons Inlet: Accessed via Inverloch, this section of coastline is well worth exploring, for coastal heathland birds and great scenery. Best areas for access are around Venus Bay, Walkerville and Waratah Bay. Olive Whistler, Beautiful Firetail and Southern Emu-wren may all be seen amongst others.
Shallow Inlet and Corner Inlet: These two bays have extensive intertidal mudflats and are amongst the most important sites for migratory shorebirds in Victoria, particularly the extraordinary Eastern Curlew. Before entering the park, the road to Duck point provides access to Corner inlet. Once in the National Park, the road to Millers landing also provides views of Corner inlet where many waders, duck and terns may be present. The Millers landing road also passes through coastal heathland where Southern Emu-wren and Ground Parrot occur.
Cotters lake is a worthwhile detour with many possibilities such as Crescent Honeyeater, Striated Fieldwren and Blue-winged Parrot in summer. Ground parrots have been recorded between here and the Darby river.
Tidal River is the main centre for park facilities. Many of the birds in this area and around the campsite have become quite tame.
Sooty Oystercatchers and Black-faced Cormorant are regular around the rocky coastlines, Hooded Plovers are to be seen at many of the beaches, and Forest Raven is the most regularly observed Corvid in the park. Try the Tidal Overlook track for Beautiful Firetail and Lilly Pilly Gully is a nice walk through temperate rainforest where Brown Gerygone is to be found.
Key Species: Emu, Black-faced Cormorant, Hooded Plover, Brush Bronzewing, Gang Gang Cockatoo, Southern Emu-wren, Crescent Honeyeater, Olive Whistler, Forest Raven, Flame Robin in summer, Bassian Thrush, Beautiful Firetail
Sale, Bairnsdale and Lakes Entrance
Roughly a three hour drive east from Melbourne further into Gippsland the human population starts to thin out and extensive forested areas extend inland to the Great Dividing Range. Birding opportunities are far too many to mention here, but a few well known sites listed below are a good place to start.
Getting there: Simply follow the Princes highway from Melbourne.
Key sites: Jack Smith Lake: Access off Sth Gippsland Hwy between Yarram and Sale. Best access is to the north-east section off Middle road (the Giffard road). Also access the south-west off Stringybark lane. The lake can hold large numbers of waders especially in late summer, which can include Avocets and Stilts. Blue-winged Parrots and Striated Fieldwren in the surrounds.
Macleods Morass: A wetland with extensive reedbeds on the outskirts of Bairnsdale has well made walking tracks and some bird hides. Crakes are a possibility here as well as raptors grassbirds etc.
Mitchell River NP: The C601 heads NW from Bairnsdale towards Omeo passing the Mitchell River NP. Some good access points for birding include The Den of Nargun, the Amphitheatre and Angus Vale. Just driving the many tracks will produce good sightings on the way. A very wide range of species occur here making it well worth visiting. Superb Lyrebird, Satin Bowerbird, Powerful, Sooty and Masked Owls, Scarlet Honeyeater, Pilotbird, Brown Gerygone, Spotted Quail-thrush, Black-faced Monarch and Rose Robin to mention a few.
Fairy Dell: 5.5 kms NW of Bruthen along Deep Creek road is Fairy Dell, a densely forested gully with some great birding. The drive in passes through typical eucalypt forest with Wonga Pigeon amongst others. At the Dell the denser shaded parts attract Superb Lyrebird, Satin Bowerbird, Bassian Thrush and Black-faced Monarch whilst the surrounding eucalypt forest is alive with species such as Rose Robin, White-throated Gerygone, Scarlet Honeyeater and Cicadabird in season. Sooty Owl occurs in the area.an
Metung: Fig trees in the small township of Metung have attracted Channel-billed Cuckoo over the last few summers .
Log Crossing: Take Uncles track off the Princes hwy just west of Lakes Entrance. After 2.2kms turn right to the picnic area. From here various walks take you along the rich creekside vegetation and surrounding forest with many of the same species as are found at Fairy Dell.
Nyerimilang Park: Between Metung and Lakes Entrance is the small reserve of Nyerimilang Park run by Parks Victoria. Views across the coast as well as some nice forest make this a really interesting site with a wide mix of birdlife from White-bellied Sea-Eagles to Eastern Whipbirds.
Canni Creek: This site is around the racecourse and golf club south of Buchan. Coming from the south turn right just after crossing the Canni creek and park near the racecourse. The site preserves some rare vegetation communities and attracts an interesting mix of birds including Turquoise Parrot, Bell Miner, Chestnut-rumped Heathwren, Diamond Firetail and Southern Emu-wren plus a wide range of open woodland species.
Key Species: Sooty Owl, Powerful Owl, Superb Lyrebird, Satin Bowerbird, Cicadabird, Scarlet Honeyeater, Spotted Quail-thrush, Wonga Pigeon, Black-faced Monarch, Bassian Thrush, Turquoise Parrot.
Marlo and Cape Conran Coastal Park
Pushing further on into the wilds of East Gippsland, as you get closer to Croajingolong NP and the border with NSW, it is a must to detour and spend some time in the area between Marlo and Bemm river. Cape Conran coastal park preserves a range of habitats and has an extensive bird list.
Getting there: 420 km east of Melbourne and 530 km south of Sydney this park may be accessed from Marlo in the west, via the Cabbage tree Conran road, or via Bemm river in the east
Key sites: Cabbage Tree reserve: Accessed off the Marlo Cabbage tree road, this reserve on the Cabbage Tree creek preserves a large stand of Cabbage Tree palms, Victoria’s only palm species. It is an exceptional birding site with the usual wet forest species and the chance of east coast species rare in Victoria such as Top-Knot Pigeon. Pilotbird are here as are Black-faced Monarch, Azure Kingfisher, Sooty Owl, Superb Lyrebird, Scarlet and Crescent Honeyeater, and much more. Masked Owls are in the surrounding area, preferring sites with a mix of habitats such as heathland and forest.
West Cape (Cape Conran): This lookout provides ocean views where seabirds may be observed in windy weather. Pilotbirds and Whipbirds live in the scrub.
Yeerung River Road: The main camp ground and park information is based off this road. The area and drive has a range of forest and heathland with a wide mix of birds. The heaths hold Southern Emu-wren and Ground Parrot. Scarlet Honeyeaters can be common, and both Bandicoots and Potoroos come out at night! This is one of the best areas in Victoria to see White-throated Needletails in the summer.
Old Coast Road: From the Cabbage tree- Conran road right through to near Bemm river, this well-formed unsealed road is great for birding and passes through a range of vegetation types. Many of the parks bird species can be found along this road, which is also a regular site for Turquoise Parrot. Glossy Black Cockatoos and Ground Parrots are both possible. Also good for night-birding with White-throated Nightjar, Powerful Owl and various four legged critters.
Bemm River: At the eastern end of the park, and the start of Croajingolong, this small holiday centre has excellent natural values and access back into Cape Conran via the Pearl Point road. The Bemm river itself has some beautiful riverine forest alongside, with Dolly’s Garden a nice place to try some birding. As with other parts of East Gippsland where the habitat is in good shape, both Masked and Sooty Owls are known to frequent the area
Key Species: Masked Owl, Sooty Owl, Powerful Owl, Top-knot Pigeon, Wonga Pigeon, Turquoise Parrot, Ground Parrot, Glossy Black-cockatoo, Superb Lyrebird, White-throated Needletail, Southern Emu-wren, Scarlet Honeyeater, Pilotbird, Black-faced Monarch, Beautiful Firetail
Croajingalong National Park and Mallacoota
Preserving a long stretch of coastline right to the border with NSW, as well as extensive coastal forests and heathlands, Croajingolong is a place to explore, unwind and marvel at. Track conditions vary so checking with the parks web page is useful. The unspoilt coastline is simply magnificent, and the recent lists entered to the Eremaea Birds website record nearly 200 species in the park.
Getting there: Located some 450 km east of Melbourne and 500 km south of Sydney, access is via any number of country roads and tracks leading off the Princes Hwy. From Genoa the road to Mallacoota provides access to a range of worthwhile areas where most of the habitat types can be explored.
Key sites: Good tracks in to Point Hicks and Wingan Inlet give access to some of the western section of the park.
Genoa Peak Road takes you up through the best area in Victoria to see Glossy Black Cockatoo. They quietly feed on the casuarina cones that abound here and for such a large bird are easily missed.
Gypsy Point situated in the upper reaches of the Mallacoota inlet has a worthwhile walk out on a peninsula of land to the junction of the Genoa and the Wallagaraugh rivers. Top-knot Pigeons are being seen with more regularity in the Gypsy Point area, whilst both Striated Heron and Black Bittern frequent the fringing vegetation especially up to the left of the jetty. Hiring a boat or canoe is a possible way to see these species but check tides before heading out.
Double Creek Rainforest walk on the Mallacoota road is an excellent section of lowland temperate rainforest with the typical range of species including Scarlet Honeyeater and Black-faced Monarch. On the opposite side of the road a walking track follows the Double creek
Shady Gully Bushland Reserve is another area of temperate rainforest near Mallacoota with an easy walk through. Powerful Owl sometimes roosts here.
Mallacoota Foreshore Camping Ground and Captain Stevens Point these sites provide magnificent views of the inlet. Waders feed here at low tide, Sea-Eagles are never far away, and various other Terns, Egrets and Spoonbills are ever present.
Bastion Point just south of Mallacoota is a good site for a seawatch in the right weather, and Eastern Reef Egret is often in the area.
Take Betka road from Mallacoota west along the coast where there is an excellent heathland walk with potential for Ground Parrot and others. At Betka beach Hooded Plover is quite regular, and further on the heathland around the airfield is also good, with Beautiful Firetail often seen here.
Shipwreck Creek From the car park at Shipwreck creek take tracks back towards Mallacoota coming out onto an excellent coastal heath with more chances for Ground Parrot. Southern Emu-wren are often the commonest bird here !
Wallagaraugh River Between Genoa and the NSW border take the Wallagaraugh road off the Princes hwy. At the river itself, near the campsite, there is a nice walking track where a brilliant range of birds may be seen.
Howe Flat This section of the park is remote, and only accessible by 4WD or boat. It is the only reliable site in Victoria to see Eastern Bristlebird. It is necessary to drive in from the NSW side, eventually getting to the 4WD Lakeview track and then onto Howe Flat track. Occasionally Eastern Bristlebird is reported further west along the coast but no follow up sightings have been forthcoming.
Key Species: Black Bittern (rare), Striated Heron, Eastern Reef Egret, Hooded Plover, Little Tern, Top-knot Pigeon, Sooty Owl, Powerful Owl, Masked Owl, White-throated Nightjar, White-throated Needletail, Glossy Black-cockatoo, Eastern Ground Parrot, Superb Lyrebird, Southern Emu-wren, Scarlet Honeyeater, Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, Eastern Bristlebird, Black-faced Monarch, Beautiful Firetail.