Australia’s Croajingolong National Park is considered one of the finest natural regions on earth – it has been classified by the United Nations as a World Biosphere Reserve and contains one of the most complex forest ecosystems in Australia. The park spans the south-east corner of Australia - a pristine wilderness of eucalyptus forests, coastal heathlands, ocean beaches, deep secret rivers and secluded estuaries.
The jewel of Croajingolong is the Mallacoota region (in the eastern section of the National Park), where the Genoa River enters a large wilderness lake system called Mallacoota Inlet at the crossover of 3 major ecosystems – forest, estuary and ocean. Wildlife abounds in the sea, the bush and the lakes.
In this magnificent wilderness you will stay for 3 nights in luxury accommodation at Gipsy Point Lakeside overlooking the Genoa River. Lakeside is surrounded by Croajingolong and is a haven for wildlife – it is the perfect base to explore this beautiful, untouched region on foot, by vehicle and by boat, escorted by your personal Nature Guide. Delicious meals are served at Lakeside and are included in the tour price.
Day 1: Depart Melbourne or Sydney airport for a short flight to Merimbula on the south-east corner of Australia. Upon arrival you will meet your guide and begin your wildlife sojourn in Croajingolong National Park. Your luxury accommodation for the next 3 nights will be at Gipsy Point Lakeside overlooking the Genoa River.
After settling in at Lakeside your guide will take you on an orientation walk into the forest surrounding Lakeside. On this evening walk we may see kangaroos, wallabies, rare pigeons, kingfishers, the Superb Lyrebird, parrots and honeyeaters amongst other sightings. Dinner tonight will be at Lakeside. Overnight Gipsy Point Lakeside (you will stay at the same accommodation for tonight and the following 2 nights). Includes: (D).
Note: transfer to Melbourne or Sydney airport to board Rex flight is not included
Day 2: This morning you awake to the calls of dozens of birds – Lakeside is famous for its myriad “fly pasts” of colorful parrots and lorikeets. If you rise early you can watch them as the sun rises over the Genoa River. If you are quiet you may see kangaroos grazing near your apartment. Today your guide will explain Australia’s wildlife heritage as you walk and drive though this forest wilderness. One of the highlights may be sightings of wild koalas living on the edge of the rain forest – these delightful living fossils evolved in the rain forest before the Eucalypts but, as the rain forests disappeared, they have adapted to eat only eucalyptus leaves.
We will discover the Casuarina tree that has a separate male and female plant. They produce cones with little seeds that the large Glossy-black cockatoo feeds upon - we also search for this red and black cockatoo by listening for its tiny voice! We’ll walk in samphire flats beside giant stands of Melaleuca (paper-bark trees) and search for the rare Southern Emu-wren, a profoundly shy yet sedentary bird. In corridor rainforests we’ll discover the gene pool that created the genus Eucalyptus. We’ll even see the crossover genus - Angophora - one of the world’s most profusely flowering trees and their first eucalyptus “children” the mighty Bloodwoods towering on gnarled trunks over everything. Depending on the time of year and recent rainfall we may even see the famous the orchids of Mallacoota - both terrestrial (ground) and epiphytic (in trees).
If you are a birdwatcher your bird list should expand dramatically today as we move through the forest. Your guide will help you identify as many birds as possible. Dinner precedes an evening of spotlighting in the eucalypt forest for the flying possums of this area. These unique marsupials are more often heard than seen but if we are lucky we may see any of the 3 species as they fly courageously from tree to tree. Regardless of what we see, these very safe spotlight walks are a wonderfully rewarding experience – all your senses are heightened as your guide interprets the sounds of the night. We often see possums and if we are very lucky - and quiet - we may spot a Wombat. These large marsupials (about the size off a small pig), although common, are very shy and retiring and require care and patience to find. Sightings are often brief but well worth the effort. Overnight Gipsy Point Lakeside. Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 3: As we will be traveling by boat today’s activities will be governed by weather conditions and water levels. The day’s activities are planned as follows: Today is dedicated to the magnificent estuary and the ocean systems of Mallacoota.
Mallacoota Inlet was formed after the last ice age when a coastal river system was drowned by the sea. This lake system is comprised of a smaller, inland, “top” lake connected by a narrow section of inundated river valley to a larger “bottom” lake that finally overflows into the Southern Ocean (Gipsy Point Lakeview is on the upstream side of the Top Lake). Many smaller “arms” of water branch off the main lakes. A large semi-submerged sand bank called the Goodwin Sands sits in the middle of the Bottom Lake and is home to both migratory and local birds. The shoreline of the lake system and the outlet to the sea are home to many bird species.
We’ll visit the Southern Ocean on Croajingolong’s coast. With a great curving beach stretching to the east and colorful rocky headlands to the west this is the place to bring your camera for dramatic photos. The beaches are mostly untrodden and are home to the rare Hooded Plover, oystercatchers, gannets and other seashore and ocean-going birds.
To explore Mallacoota Inlet we board the Porkie Bess, a delightful timber cruising launch, to search the coves and sand flats for sea eagles (and other raptors), swans, migrant waders and shorebirds, egrets, herons, spoonbills, cormorants, terns, dotterels, plovers, ibis and ducks not to mention the land birds that we will also see. The Porkie Bess will be at our full disposal for 4 hours. If we tire of the water the boat will drop us at remote jetties to walk along the shoreline before picking us up again for further adventures up some of the secret wilderness arms of the lake system. We may even see Australian Fur Seals that are occasional visitors to the bottom lake.
During today your guide will relate stories of Mallacoota’s past - for this is the place that some of Australia’s most famous poets came to pen rhymes about the unparalleled beauty of the place. E.J. Brady, one of the poets, described Mallacoota as having “loveliness amongst the rarest in Australia.” You may also be enchanted by Mallacoota Inlet. Overnight Gipsy Point Lakeside. Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 4: We depart Lakeview this morning en route to Merimbula airport. Before departing the morning is yours to have a relaxing breakfast and a quiet stroll in this idyllic location. Depending in flight timings we may have a chance to drop in at a Genoa River Falls where we can search for the famous Water Dragons, a big green lizard that lives in and near running water. The falls are a wonderful place to reflect on the beauty of Croajingolong before driving to Merimbula to fly out to Melbourne or Sydney. Includes: (B, L).
Note: transfer from Melbourne or Sydney airport after arrival is not included
As a private tour, pricing depends on group size. Lower price is for an adult travelling in a party of 6. Maximum price is for an adult wanting a single room, travelling in a party of 2.
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