The Spectacular Wetlands of the Atherton Tablelands

The summer rains offer one of the best times of year to see the magnificent array of birds that flock to the Atherton Tablelands. The area is a twitchers paradise all year round but the expansion of wetlands during the rainy season is memorable.

Hasties Swamp, Atherton

If you are a cranespotter (Sarus crane if lucky) or just an amateur avian appreciator then Hasties Swamp is a perfect stop. Just 4km from Atherton, the wetland has birds all year round but is bursting at the seams during the wet. Pack a sunset picnic and watch the evening show in style.

Wandering whistling ducks, cotton pygmy geese, coots and pink eared ducks are some of the stars, while saurus cranes and brolga can sweep in early in the wet. There’s a two-storey hide perfect for bird watching and seats at least 12 people. There is also a toilet nearby.

Magpie Goose, Image /IG: helberthpeixoto


Wurruma Swamp, Mount Garnet

Wurruma Swamp attracts an amazing range of bird life and at certain times of the year there are literally thousands of blacks swans on the waters. Just before entering the town of Mount Garnet from the north, there is a dirt road, which heads east to Wurruma Swamp.

The swamp retains water long after other local wetlands have dried up and is used for a water supply to the township. Expect to see at this time of year magpie geese, plumed whistling-duck, black swan, cotton pygmy-geese, Pacific black duck, hardhead, Australasian grebe, dusky moorhen, Eurasian coot, comb-crested jacana, pelican, intermediate egret, black kite and noise friarbirds.

Wurruma Swamp, Image /IG: exploremonger

Bromfield Swamp, Malanda

Overlooking a crater, the viewing platform at Bromfield Swamp near Malanda is a good spot to see brolgas and cranes returning home for the evening early in the wet.  A sighting of the long-legged Sarus Crane is a real treat given there is a maximum of 10,000 in the world and Australia has one of the last breeding populations – 3000 of which live on the Atherton Tablelands. There are plenty of other birds as well but best to bring your binoculars for the smaller species.

Brolgas, Image /IG: simonswildlife


Abbatoir Swamp

Easily accessible near Julatten, this wetland should be teeming with activity during the wet. This remnant wetland, surrounded by cane fields,  may be small but has a 75 metre long boardwalk and a hide. Waterbirds as diverse as cormorants, jacana, darters and ducks can be found while the surrounding bush is also a productive place for bird watching.

Rufous Shrikethrush, Image: IG/davidongley