Best Birdwatching Sites in Australia for Fledgling Bird Nerds

October 4th, 2022

Keen to try birdwatching but not sure where to start? The authors of The Compact Australian Bird Guide have you covered with this list of great birdwatching spots across Australia.
A copy of The Compact Australian Bird Guide resting on a fallen log, with a pair of binoculars waiting nearby.

Get out in nature and go birdwatching with The Compact Australian Bird Guide.

Australians love birds. In fact, more than 100,000 people took part in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count in 2021, counting the birds they saw in their backyards and local area. Yes, we are a nation of birdwatching enthusiasts!

But every birdwatcher starts somewhere, and if you’re just taking the first steps in your journey to bird nerd-dom, then The Compact Australian Bird Guide is the perfect ‘starter kit’.

The Compact Australian Bird Guide is based on the award-winning The Australian Bird Guide, and both books are written and illustrated by the same expert team. Small but mighty, The Compact Australian Bird Guide is just the right fit for a backpack or coat pocket, making it that much easier to get out into nature and get to know our feathered neighbours a little better.

To help you on your way, we asked Rohan Clarke, one of the authors of the guide, for his suggestions for beginner birding hotspots across Australia – so grab your binoculars and get out there!


Australian Capital Territory

Where to go: Jerrabomberra Wetlands Nature Reserve, Canberra.

Species to look for: A variety of ducks, Black-fronted Dotterel, Red-Kneed Dotterel, Baillon’s Crake, Spotless Crake, Australian Spotted Crake and Latham’s Snipe.

Paintings of the Baillon's Crake juvenile and adult forms, as well as flying and walking on floating vegetation.

Baillon’s Crake is found mostly in freshwater wetlands with exposed muddy edges. (Illustration: Kim Franklin, The Compact Australian Bird Guide)


New South Wales

Where to go: Centennial Park, Sydney.

Species to look for: Tawny Frogmouth, Golden-headed Cisticola, Little Grassbird, Hardhead, Pacific Black Duck, Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo, Rainbow Lorikeet, Pied Currawong, New Holland Honeyeater and Superb Fairy-wren.

Paintings of an adult New Holland Honeyeater perching on a branch and in flight, as well as a side profile of the juvenile form.

New Holland Honeyeaters are common birds, and are active in heath, shrubby forest, and gardens. (Illustration: Peter Marsack, The Compact Australian Bird Guide)


Northern Territory

Where to go: East Point Reserve, Darwin.

Species to look for: Rainbow Pitta, Green-backed Gerygone, Beach Stone-curlew and Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove.

Paintings of a juvenile and adult Rainbow Pitta standing in side profile, as well as an adult pitta flying.

The Rainbow Pitta is often first detected by the distinctive sound of a bird hopping on dry leaf-litter. (Illustration: Peter Marsack, The Compact Australian Bird Guide)



Where to go: Cairns Esplanade, Cairns.

Species to look for: Beach Stone-curlew, a wide range of shorebirds, Double-eyed Fig-Parrot, Varied Honeyeater and Mangrove Robin.

Paintings of a Beach Stone-curlew standing, lunging forwards to catch a crab, and flying.

The Beach Stone-curlew is found in singles of pairs on quiet beaches and nearby tidal flats. (Illustration: Jeff Davies, The Compact Australian Bird Guide)


South Australia

Where to go: Adelaide Hills.

Species to look for: Adelaide Rosella, Varied Sittella, Bassian Thrush, Crescent Honeyeater and White-throated Treecreeper.

Paintings of three rosella subspecies in standing and flying positions, showing colour variation from red to mainly yellow.

Adelaide Rosellas encompass the redder subspecies fleurieuensis, the yellower subadelaidae, and hybrids of the two. (Illustration: Kim Franklin, The Compact Australian Bird Guide)



Where to go: Waterworks Reserve, Hobart.

Species to look for: Tasmanian Morepork, Black-headed Honeyeater, Yellow-throated Honeyeater, Eastern Spinebill, Yellow Wattlebird, Hoary-headed Grebe and Tasmanian Native-hen.

Paintings of Yellow Wattlebird perched on a branch in side profile, shown in comparison to the head of the juvenile form.

The Yellow Wattlebird is Australia’s largest honeyeater, and boasts long pendulous yellow wattles for which it was named. (Illustration: Kim Franklin, The Compact Australian Bird Guide)



Where to go: Sherbrooke Forest, Greater Melbourne.

Species to look for: Superb Lyrebird, Greater Sooty Owl, Rose Robin, Pink Robin, Olive Whistler, Pilotbird, Red-browed Treecreeper and White-eared Honeyeater.

Paintings of male and female Superb Lyrebirds walking with tail extended, a male displaying with tail fanned forwards, and roosting in a tree canopy.

The Superb Lyrebird: it ain’t no lie that this bird is superb… and also a fantastic mimic! (Illustration: Kim Franklin, The Compact Australian Bird Guide)


Western Australia

Where to go: Kings Park, Perth.

Species to look for: White-cheeked Honeyeater, Singing Honeyeater, Western Spinebill, Western Wattlebird, Red Wattlebird, Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo, Little Corella, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Inland Thornbill, Weebill and Western Gerygone.

Paintings of female and male Carnaby's Black-cockatoos flying and perching on a branch, as well as a close-up of the male's head.

Carnaby’s Black-cockatoo is found mostly in wheatbelt eucalypt woodland, mallee, heath and pine plantations in southern WA. (Illustration: Jeff Davies, The Compact Australian Bird Guide)


Ready to spread your wings? Here are some more great sites for keen birdwatchers:

  • ACT: Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve
  • NSW: Barren Grounds
  • NT: Kakadu National Park
  • Qld: Iron Range, Cape York
  • SA: Gluepot Reserve
  • Tas: Bruny Island
  • Vic: Western Treatment Plant
  • WA: Broome Bird Observatory



Two books, one with a bright blue cover, the other smaller and bright orange, lie on a bed of eucalypt leaves.

The Australian Bird Guide and The Compact Australian Bird Guide.

We hope we’ve inspired and energised you to get outside and start getting to know Australia’s amazing birds!

Start your birdwatching adventure with The Compact Australian Bird Guide, which packs in all the essentials details in a compact format to help you identify more than 700 bird species likely to be encountered in Australia and nearby waters.

Or take your birding game to the next level with The Australian Bird Guide, Revised Edition, which covers more than 900 species including the less commonly seen visitors, vagrants and the birds of Australia’s external territories, and will help experienced birders to determine subspecies, age and sex.

The Compact Australian Bird Guide and The Australian Bird Guide are both available online or from all good bookshops.