Wildlife spotting in Australia’s most biodiverse place

The Atherton Tablelands is a Paradise for animal Lovers. The Rainforest that this area has is considered the oldest Rainforest of the world. To paint a picture, The Brazilian Amazon is 60 million years old, this rainforest is about 130 million years old. You can imagine how many plants and animals have evolved throughout all those years.

The forest has more then 150 tree species, thousands of plant species and many different animal species.

Sadly most of the rainforest got cut down to make room for farms so the rainforest that’s left only covers 0,01% of Australia. Besides rainforest the Tablelands has wetland, woodland, grassland, lakes and farmland. This off course aiding to the biodiversity of the place.

On the Wildlife tour of ‘Wait a while rainforest tours’ we went looking for some of the most Iconic and/or special animals that Australia has to offer.


Agile Wallaby
Agile Wallaby


We made our first stop in White Rock, one of the suburbs of Cairns. The grass lawns of the people living here attract many Agile Wallabies. Always Cute to see and fun for those who just arrived in Australia. We also got to see Spectacled Flying foxes, Helmeted Guineafowl, wagtails and Ibis in the Neighbourhood. Soon after we made our way to the Atherton tablelands. We made a stop at Lake Barrine. This is apparently a good place to spot the smallest kangaroo specie, the Musky Rat kangaroo. We went for a 650 meter long bush walk but unfortunately the little guy did not show himself.


Spectacled Flying Fox
Spectacled Flying Fox


On to the next spot then. The next stop was all about spotting the Lumholtz’s tree Kangaroo. Endemic to Australia and only found in the Atherton Tablelands makes spotting one a nice addition to my checklist. Luckily our guide knows a place where changes of spotting one are greatly increased. With 11 people scouting the trees, one of the people on the tour soon found 2 of them. a mother and a young adult. At first they where sleeping but minutes later the young one looked at us and became active. After a while the mother also woke up to go fetch her young.


Lumholtz's Tree Kangaroo
Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo


It was almost time for dinner but before heading to the restaurant we made a stop at a little creek to find the platypus. For good reason this is one of Australia’s most Iconic animals. This weird creature is 1 out of 4 animals out of the monotremes family. It is part mammal and part bird. Along with the 4 species of Echidna it is the only egg laying mammal. It has the bill of a duck, the tail of a beaver and feet like an Otter. Save to say that this is a unusual looking animal.

When we went looking for it before dawn we couldn’t find it so we gave it another try after dinner. Armed with a huge torch our guide spotted one within minutes of arriving to the creek. I didn’t get to take a great shot because of the other people in the tour that rushed and took the good spots for taking pictures but it was still cool to see this elusive animal. Because we where on a time schedule we had to move to the next location to go spot possums and other wildlife creeping through the jungle.


the platypus finally showed himself

It was nice to see the platypus but I think I will give it another try sometimes when I’m by myself so I can take my time and take all the pictures I want. As always with wildlife tours I take, they are focussed on spotting the animals off course but not so focussed on giving the people the change to take a awesome picture. That said, most of the time I’m the only one in the group that’s so obsessed with photography so I have to accept that the tours don’t focus on it like I want to. There are probably lots of wildlife tours for photography enthousiast but the price tag is probably a little higher for those tours as well. Being a backpacker I have to make choices on what I spend my money and going on tours often don’t fit in my budget.

Ok, back to the tour. I still have a couple of cool animals to show you. Most animals in Australia are nocturnal and this area has some cool ones with some being endemic to the area like the tree Kangaroo I told you about earlier. We saw 2 more animals that can only be found in this little peace of Australia like this Green ringtail Possum.

Green ringtail Possum
Green Ringtail Possum

Another one of those special animals is the Coppery Brush tail Possum. Similar to the Common brush tail Possum that we saw a little later (see below) the most obvious difference is the color of it’s fur. Like the name says, it has a coppery red/brown colour. And just like the Common brush tail it has a very cute face.


Coppery Brush-tail Possum
Coppery Brush-tail Possum
Coppery Brush-tail Possum
Coppery Brush-tail Possum
Common Brush-tail Possum
Common Brush-tail Possum

The last animal I’ll show you is the Giant white tailed rat. A little less rare but still native to the tropical rainforest of north Queensland.

Giant white tailed Rat
Giant White-tailed Rat

See the checklist below for all the animals I saw on the tour. Although I always want more time to take pictures of animals during a day trip, I did enjoy the day trip very much. And… every day that I see a new animal to add on my checklist is a good day. Today I saw 9!

  • Agile Wallaby
  • Helmeted Guineafowl
  • Willie wagtail
  • Spectacled Flying fox
  • Long eared Micro bat
  • Straw necked Ibis
  • Australian Ibis
  • Pacific Heron
  • Huntsman spider
  • river turtle
  • Giant white tailed rat
  • platypus
  • Lumholt’s Tree Kangaroo
  • Green ringtail Possum
  • Coppery Brush tail Possum
  • Common Brush tail Possum
  • Sooty owl (sound)
  • Bandicoot (sound)

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