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Alice Springs and Ayers Rock Bird Watching

Author: Carl from Pahrump
Email: carlball@yahoo.com (More Trip Reviews by Carl from Pahrump)
Date of Trip: October 2006

sunset alice springsIn 2006 and 2007 we spent 255 Days driving around Australia. We started in Darwin, drove south to Alice Springs, backtracked to Cairns, went down the East Coast to Rockhampton, cut over to Melbourne, flew to Tasmania and back, went across the Nullarbor Plain to Perth, drove up the West Coast to Broome, and finished by crossing the Kimberely Region on our way back to Darwin -- 24,000 miles & 6 rental cars. Along the way we stayed in 56 cities and saw 693 bird species/subspecies.

This Trip Report covers the 11-days we spent in the Alice Springs area. We saw 129 bird species at 10 nature areas:

Nature Area Lat & Long Alice Springs Sewage Ponds 23.738S 133.856E Konuth Wells Station 23.516S 133.584E McDonell Ranges NP -- Ellery Creek 23.779S 133.073E McDonell Ranges NP - Ormiston Gorge 23.632S 132.727E McDonell Ranges NP - Serpentine Gorge 23.750S 132.978E McDonell Ranges NP - Simpson Gap 23.723S 133.735E Olive Pink Botanic Garden 23.707S 133.884E Ayers Rock NP (Uluru) 25.296S 130.985E Fink River on Stuart Highway 24.553S 133.253E Kings Canyon NP 24.296S 131.593E

If you put these coordinates into Google Earth, you can see the locations I am discussing. Typically, there will be lots of pictures as well.

The top birding areas where:

Birding Area Bird Species Alice Springs Sewage Ponds 65 Konuth Wells Station 46 McDonell Ranges NP - Ellery Creek 38 Kings Canyon NP 32 McDonell Ranges NP - Simpson Gap 30 Curtin Springs Station 29 Ti Tree Roadhouse 24 Olive Pink Botanic Garden 20 McDonell Ranges NP - Ormiston Gorge 19 Erldunda Roadhouse 17 Fink River on Stuart Highway 12 Ayers Rock NP (Uluru) 7 Total 129

Overall, we saw 54 bird species in the 4 sections of the West McDonell Ranges NP.

We saw 35 bird species at The Ponds and 7 species at Konuth Wells Station that we didn't see anywhere else during these 11 days.

We saw 118 birds during the 7 nights we were based at Alice Springs. We added 11 additional birds to our list during the 4-day/3-night side trip to the Ayers Rock/Curtin Springs/King Canyon area.

If we had just flown to Alice Springs and did the 4-day/3-night side trip to the Ayers Rock area, we would have seen 51 bird species.

If we had just flown from Sydney to Ayers Rock for the day, we might have seen 7 bird species.


In Alice Springs we stayed at the Nthaba Cottage B&B (www.nthabacottage.com.au 23.714S 133.887E). Our hosts were Anne and Will Cormack. Anne has created a manicured front garden and a terraced rear garden. We spent the late afternoon sitting on the back porch admiring the flowers and enjoying the breeze. We saw Spotted Turtle Doves and the Port Lincoln Ringneck Parrots at the feeders. The B&B overlooks an Aborigine sacred site -- part of the Caterpillar Dreaming. A sign said it was a $20,000 fine for someone to go on the site without a permit. The fine is so high because a few years ago a contractor unceremoniously dynamited off the tail of the Caterpillar.

We had the cottage unit. It was nicely furnished with antiques. We had a partial kitchen where we fixed Br's and picnic Lu's. On some nights we ordered homemade Indian food from an Indian lady across the street; other nights we ate in town.

1954 morris car sewage ponds australiaWill works for the local Power and Water Company and has a pass for the vehicle entry gate at The Ponds (a.k.a. Sewage Ponds). Will often takes visiting birders to The Ponds with him in his 1954 Morris (British car). He can drive around the various ponds, while other people have to walk. Will is a very keen birder. He has spent over 2000 hours birding at the Ponds, but you would think it was his first time there by his obvious excitement at seeing birds he had seen 1000's of times before.

Will can also take birders to the small pond at Konuth Wells Station about 30 miles NW of Alice Springs where the nomadic Bourke's Parrots come to drink in the morning and where you can see the even rarer Gray Honeyeater.

In the Ayers Rock/King Canyon area we stayed at the Curtin Springs Cattle Station & Wayside Inn (www.curtinsprings.com 25.307S 131.753E). We had a room with a private bath, small refrig., and air conditioning. It was much less expensive to stay here than at Ayers Rock, plus you are more centrally located for bird watching, especially if you want to go to Kings Canyon. The Roadhouse serves meals and has excellent Dinners. There is a bottle shop, but you can't drink on the property since it is Aborigine owned. This is the only place you are likely to see the rare Princess Parrot (Alexandra's Parrot), even if it is in an enclosure.

If we were planning the trip again, I would:

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