Local Tips & Advice
Go for a walk or have a picnic and you are sure to be rewarded with sightings of many different species. Beside the river at Tumut, in the bush outside Batlow or in the northern end of Kosciuszko National Park, wherever you are in the region,each has its own range of feathered inhabitants.
The Satin Bowerbird calls the region home and you may be lucky enough to find a bower, brightly decorated with blue items. The male in his glossy black plummage, that changes to purple or green in different light is a magnificent sight. The females, usually in groups are a drab olive green.
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos fly silently on their huge wings over the orchards of Batlow while their smaller cousins Gang Gang Cockatoos can also be seen. Their distinctive, "creaky door" call is often the first clue to their presence. Other members of the parrot family are also plentiful, including Crimson and Eastern Rosellas, King Parrots, Sulphur Crested Cockatoos and Galahs.
Our thanks go to Les Main for all of his hard work in putting together this information on bird watching in the Tumut Region. Much of the bird photography on this website was taken by Les.
Les Main moved to Tumut in 2014 from Molong in the Central West of NSW. He is a keen birder, amateur photographer and conservationist. He is a member of Birdlife Australia and the Canberra Ornithological Group, both dedicated to the conservation and promotion of birds. Birdlife Australia has identified important sites around Australia worthy of protection and they are now called “Key Biodiversity Areas” (KBAs). There are over 300 KBAs in Australia and 18,000 around the world administered by over 10 leading conservation NGOs. Locally, Les has been appointed “Guardian” of the Australian Alps KBA, an area taking in the Kosciuszko and Alpine National Parks.
For more information on bird watching you might like to contact Canberra Ornithologists Group.
For information on the Tumut Region contact or visit the Tumut Region Visitor Information Centre.
What's on this page
Bird Watching in the Tumut Region
A Region rich in Nature
Tumut, population approximately 6,500, is nestled in a protective valley on the western slopes of the Great Divide. The Tumut River flows through the valley before joining the Murrumbidgee to the north. The Snowy Mountains are on its southern doorstep which includes the Kosciuszko National Park. To the west is the rich food producing region of the Riverina. A region blessed with stunning scenery, a clean environment, four distinct seasons and is rich in biodiversity.
With such a rich region one would expect to have a range of birds to match its environment and that is the case. There are over 200 species recorded just in the Australian Alps Key Biodiversity Area alone and although we do not have an exclusively endemic species here, there are many species that make themselves fairly easy to locate, view and enjoy. Spring, summer and early Autumn are of course the best time to see birds with many species migrating here to breed. These include many species of honeyeaters, cuckoos, kingfishers, dollarbirds, robins, water birds and more. These migrants join our locals, the many rosellas, parrots and cockatoos, the finches, robins and fairywrens, and the majestic birds of prey, along with the more common kookaburras, magpies, ravens & crows, magpie larks and willie wagtails that are just about always visible in the region.
Some of the local favorites are:
Gang Gang Cockatoo
Yellow-tailed Black cockatoo
Tumut Wetlands, GPS: S 35.293805, E 148.214459, Altitude: 265m
The Tumut Wetlands, on the edge of town, are accessed from Gocup Road, just north of the Snowy Valley Highway intersection. The wetlands consist of large ponds associated with the sewerage treatment plant on one side and the Gilmore Creek, Tumut River and Riverglade Caravan Park form the other boundaries.
Several lagoons are interspersed with restored native bush and an eclectic mix of patches of remnant old forest with very large European trees. This mixture of flora attracts many species. There are several walking tracks, picnic tables and many shaded seats to soak up the natural beauty and watch the local endemic Fairywrens, Red-browed finches, Kingfishers, & White-throated Treecreepers that nest right here in the wetlands. Nesting Dollarbirds are a common sight in summer as are Galahs, Yellow-tailed Black and Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, Little Corellas, King Parrots, Red-rump Parrots, Golden-headed Cisticola and European Gold Finches. Brown Goshawks, Peregrine Falcons & Black-shouldered Kites and Boobook Owls keep the smaller birds on their toes.
Further information on the wetlands can be obtained from the Visitor Information Centre in Tumut.
Wereboldera Conservation Area, GPS: S 35.333937, E 148.225359, Altitude: 350m
Travel south from the centre of Tumut on the Snowy Valley Highway for approx 3 kilometres and turn right into Boonderoo Rd. The conservation area is at the end of this road, right on the edge of Tumut.
Wereboldera is an important transition area between the high montane forests of the Snowy Mountains and the drier woodlands of the South-West slopes that have been largely cleared for agriculture. 150 bird species have been recorded here. There are several 4 wheel drive and walking tracks. Several birds listed as Vulnerable can be found here including: Gang Gang Cockatoo that nest here in Spring, Turquoise Parrots, Brown Treecreepers and Olive Whistlers. Golden Whistlers, Crested Shrike-tit and 4 species of Robin are not uncommon.
Another interesting possible sighting here is the Spotted Quail-thrush, a colourful ground dwelling bird that inhabits the thick leaf litter but is well camouflaged and difficult to locate unless flushed. Brown Goshawk lurk quietly in the canopy.
Ellerslie Conservation Reserve, GPS: S 35.247950, E 147.913987, Altitude: 300m
Ellerslie CR is a small, high value conservation area with no facilities and no camping or vehicular access 39km from Tumut.
From Tumut drive west along the Snowy Mountains Highway (towards Wagga). Continue through Adelong township for another 17km and Ellerslie Conservation Reserve is on the left of the highway. There is no designated parking area here so park carefully on the side of the highway. Walk along the fence line at the start of the track which then traverses some grassland with older eucalypts.
This lower section is favored by Diamond Firetail who feed on the grass seed. Further along and up the hill Treecreepers can usually be seen and in the more thickly wooded areas many woodland birds can be found. Up to 85 bird species have been recorded here including 5 threatened species (Gang Gang Cockatoo, Brown Treecreeper, Turquoise Parrot, Black-chinned Honeyeater and Diamond Firetail).
Thomas Boyd Trackhead, GPS: S 35.373300, E: 148.416477, Altitude: 370m
The Hume & Hovell Walking Track is 426km long and runs from near Albury to near Yass. The walking track crosses the Goobarragandra River at the Thomas Boyd Trackhead south-east of Tumut.
To access the trackhead by road take the Wee Jasper turnoff from the Snowy Mountains Highway in Tumut. After crossing the Tumut River take the first right and then first right and then left towards Lacmalac. This very scenic road follows the Goobarragandra River and after around 24km the trackhead is reached on the right.
This site sits in a river valley with thickly forested mountains on either side. There are toilet and picnic facilities on well grassed grounds with large eucalypts and many flowering native shrubs including the critically endangered Tumut Grevillea. Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos are often seen flying over the canopy. Crimson and Eastern Rosellas are common as are Superb Fairywrens and Red-browed Finches, King Parrots & Gang Gangs. A resident Satin Bowerbird has a bower nearby. Relax and take in the serenity before taking a walk in either direction along the Hume & Hovell Walking Track.
Tumut State Forest, GPS: S 35.312654, E: 148.211177, Altitude 330m
From the Shell Service Station on the Snowy Mountains Highway in Tumut take Fairway Drive. Right at the end of the Golf Course there is an unnamed street, turn right keeping the golf course on the right-hand side. A few hundred metres down there is a small car park with the State Forest sign. This hilled area contains recreational mountain bike and walking trails and the mixed forest is good for birding. Various Robin species can be seen here especially the Eastern Yellow and the Crescent, White-eared, White-naped and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters have been sighted here. Satin Bowerbirds are numerous here as are Rufous Whistlers, White-browed Scrubwrens, Superb Fairywrens, and the ever-present Crimson Rosellas. There is always the chance of Gang Gangs here.
Yarrangobilly Caves Walk, GPS: S 35.725181, E 148.491447, Altitude 990m
The Yarrangobilly Caves are located in Kosciuszko National Park, 74km south from Tumut via the Snowy Mountains Highway. Because it is more a standalone destination it is listed here instead of on the Route 1 Birdwatching Itinerary. To access the caves there is a 6km one-way loop road. A small fee is charged for access. There is also a steep track to the Pool and river walk that requires a level of fitness.
The caves have a warm, natural thermal pool usable 12 months of the year. There is also a Visitors Centre and café. Four caves are open to the public (three with guided tours) and it is the walks to the caves and the river walk that can be good for birding. All of the usual mountain birds are here, and there have also been some rare sightings. In late summer 2018 a flock of critically endangered Swift Parrots were observed feeding on flowering eucalypts on the Glory Cave walk. The secretive Pilotbird has also been seen here. Further information on the Yarrangobilly Caves can be obtained at the Tumut Visitors Centre. A full day could be spent here enjoying all of the attractions including the birds
For other birdwatching destinations in the region, see the Route 1 Birdwatching Itinerary for 8 sites that can be accessed from the Snowy Mountains Highway by driving South (towards Cooma) into the Kosciuszko National Park.