Daintree River Cruise

We were on the Daintree River in Queensland Australia on a sunrise boat cruise. The guide, also the boat captain, loved sharing what he had seen over his many years cruising the Daintree.

It was called a boat cruise, but really it was a boat ride in a motorboat with five of us and Ian, the guide.

We were in the Daintree Rainforest, a part of the Wet Tropics of Queensland, a World Heritage Site where there are a whopping 430 bird species. See map at end.

All of the bird photos in this post are species we saw on our Daintree River cruise.

This spangled drongo was interesting to watch because it could perch upright via its intricate tail. Drongos are known for their unique upright stance.

River cruises are great for seeing water birds and other river denizens.

This pied cormorant perched on a tree snag with its webbed feet.

Sea eagles were abundant, for although we were in a rainforest, the Coral Sea is nearby. The Coral Sea is home to the Great Barrier Reef.

One of those Australian birds that can be seen in many parts of the continent: the cockatoo. Non-Australians like them for their clever antics and beauty. But many Australians don’t care for them due to the damage these smart birds can do to trees and crops.

I could never get enough of this large and loud bird.

Rainbow lorikeets are the birdiest rainbow you will ever see on this planet, and Australians are fortunate to have it in abundance.

Kingfishers are birds we see all over the world, these two species below greeted us on the river that day.

This forest kingfisher had just come out of the water, feathers are ruffled.

We saw this herd of cows from our river boat, too.

The rare southern cassowary is a featured bird of the Daintree Rainforest, and we were lucky to have seen it several times the previous week. It is rare and difficult to see, they prefer to stay deep in the rainforest. We did not see it on our boat cruise, however, so it’s not pictured here.

Regular readers know I have written many times about this magnificent bird, one of my top ten favorite birds. Here is my most recent post on it: Aussie Backroad Thrill

We were in the Daintree village for two nights and it rained a lot, as rainforests will be. It created lush growth in and around the river.

Our guide took us into narrow waterways, possible with a smaller boat. We could hear the serene and monotonous tones of the wompoo fruit-dove as we quietly motored along.

The Torresian Imperial-Pigeon was easy to spot with its big, white body in the dark canopy.

He took us to a specific limb over the water for a very special and rare treat: the Papuan Frogmouth. We were fortunate the guide knew exactly where to look, as they are well-camouflaged, difficult to see. They are a nocturnal bird; it was sleeping and never moved.

Papua New Guinea is only 683 miles (1,100 km) away, hence the Papuan name.

There are no hummingbirds in Australia, but there are nectar-seeking birds. We saw Australia’s only sunbird, the Yellow-bellied Sunbird (Olive-backed) (Nectrinia jugularis), and several honeyeaters that day.

We had started at dawn and it was only 8:30 am by the time our boat cruise ended, so we ventured off to the river-crossing ferry and explored the Daintree Rainforest.

Ice cream and lots of birds kept us giddy.

Written by Jet Eliot.

Photos by Athena Alexander.

66 thoughts on “Daintree River Cruise

    • We walked only 200 yards from the restaurant across the street to our hotel at night, and there was so much going on in the night it was daunting. Australia has 18 eagle species. Lovely to have you “join” us at the Daintree, Wayne…thanks very much.

    • Thank you, Anneli. It was wonderful to share the Australian birds and wildlife with you. Those little kingfishers were both dazzling; and the rainbow lorikeet, oh my goodness, it is almost impossible to believe that so many vibrant colors are all in this one bird. Thank you for your visit.

      • Decades ago I clipped a picture of a lorikeet out of a magazine, and I used it to do an art class with my grade ones and twos, drawing the bird step by step and then colouring it in with felt markers. The results were fantastic and I plastered the kids’ lorikeet pictures all over our hallway bulletin board. We were all so proud, and of course, the lorikeet has stuck in my mind ever since as being very special.

    • Thanks very much, Jan. Athena is fast and tenacious, and also a birder, so she often knows what to anticipate with each species. Thanks so much for your kind words, and I agree, her skills are amazing.

    • Hi Julie. Thanks for the link to the Jeannie Baker book. I am not familiar but went to the link, and am grateful to you for reading this to your first graders, because hopefully some of them have grown up to lead the next generation in taking care of the environment. (I read the summary of the ending.) I’m glad you enjoyed the Daintree post and really appreciate your kinds words. And your teachings.

  1. That looks to be a trip of a lifetime but for you globetrotters it is one of many. What a great collection of birds and a wonderful cruise, Jet. And…we finally got to see a photograph by You. 🙂 So many colorful birds and it’s always fun to learn the exotic names of many species.

    • I’m smiling, Steve, at your comment. Thank you. Yes, I took that one photograph of Athena being silly. I’m really not good with a camera–the pen is more my thing–but I sure do appreciate what knowledge and skill it requires to be a good photographer. Glad you enjoyed the Daintree River Cruise, thanks so much for your visit.

  2. I have just moved to my new home in Ocala, Florida! Perhaps while you herein Australia. Seems like you were having a lot of fun at the other side of the world!. Your post is definitely interesting and informative. Nice hearing from you… 🙂

    • Oh so nice to hear from you, H.J. A big move to leave your GA residence. I hope you found a lovely place to enjoy life in Florida. I’m heading over your way now to visit the Red Gallery and see what you’re up to. Thanks so much for stopping by.

      • A big move, that’s right! I have left Georgia but we are thinking in the future, we need a warmer State, the cold weather is not for me any more, it’s affecting my body system, I fell more eb\nergetic in warmer climate, I’m more active. the cold weather activate my spine pain and limits me completely. Now in FL I’m king and completely active. Think it was a good move at the end. Thank you for your visits, my friend. 🙂

  3. Colourful and magical, what a trip! I used to watch an Australian soap (only for the sunshine!) and a mildly endearing name call was to say a person was a “drongo” so seeing one here made me smile.
    Thanks, Jet, another great post – I’ll say it again, Mrs PC and I will make the Australia trip one day, and you and Athena will have inspired us to do so!

    • It’s so great that you brought up the “drongo” name-calling, pc. I almost put that in the post, but I thought most of my readers hadn’t heard of it, so I left it out. (It comes up a lot in Australia.) I’m really glad you mentioned it and I’m smiling. I thank you very much for your lovely words and visit. My best to you and Mrs. PC.

    • Yes, I found it can be hit or miss with any guides wherever one is. In the “miss” times we just have to be our own guides. In the “hit” times, we are lucky, and you’re right, Eilene, this guide was excellent. Another good bird guide we had had a few days earlier told us to look him up, so we did, and we were delighted. Many thanks.

    • Ah, I appreciate your feedback on “the birdiest rainbow,” Craig. It was phrase that came to me immediately, didn’t make perfect sense, but I kept it in anyway. And yes, I, too, like the way birds and wildlife are somewhat familiar, yet still different in other parts of the world. As an avid birder, it has taught me to be most attentive to the bird families when I’m in an alien world, and that will help me identify the unfamiliar species. My warmest thanks.

  4. As beautiful as all these birds are, I did have to take a moment to contemplate the scar on the back of my right hand. Cockatoos may damage crops and trees, but they can inflict a little damage on humans they decide they dislike! I’d still love to see them, and all these other birds, in the wild, but your blog is a worthy substitute.

    • Your cockatoo story had me captivated, Linda. As one who has lived and visited so many parts of the world, you handed me another unique story. How wonderful that you can still appreciate any birds, via blogs and photos. Sending smiles and cheers your way.

  5. What a great post – so many interesting birds and new knowledge. That Shining Flycatcher is a stunner and that Rainbow Lorikeet puts our Painted Buntings to shame. Always enjoy seeing new Kingfishers and did not know there were no Hummers there. Fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

    • Great fun sharing the joys of Daintree River with you, Brian. I’m glad you enjoyed the birds presented, and hope that one day you will have a chance to see the Rainbow Lorikeet as they are super spectacular. Warm thanks for your visit.

  6. This is a great post Jet! My favorite (beside the ice cream angel shot!) was the small blue Kingfisher, just stunning. Sometimes these little cruises can be duds, I’m really glad yours was successful. I would love to visit Australia, so very beautiful.

  7. Completely awesome seeing all these amazing birds, Jet. Their colors are incredible. I felt lucky to have seen some of them on our trip. We were at Silky Oaks in the rainforest, I think near there, and it was magical. Your narration and Athena’s photos make for a terrific post. Thanks!

    • I have a big smile on my face, Jane. Thanks so much for your feedback on your Aus. river trip, and I’m so very glad you found a magical time at Silky Oaks. Wonderful to share this special part of the world….

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