Jabiru Safari Lodge, Mareeba Wetlands
July 6, 2010
Mareeba Wetlands is one of those must-visit places in Australia. Waking in the safari tents to the rolling calls of White-browed Crakes then having coffee on the verandah overlooking the wetland is priceless.
A conservation refuge for wetland birds, Mareeba comprises several lake systems, some of which are inaccessible. So it's worth spending some time with 'Chook', the operator and guide, who has a deep understanding of the Australian bush and can find you birds like the often-elusive Black-throated Finch and the local 'black-backed' form of Brown Treecreeper (which is so unlike Brown Treecreeper).
The safari tents are located a couple of hundred metres from the lagoon. The only crocs in here are about half a dozen harmless introduced freshies, that have not yet successfully bred. The other important reintroduction program is for Gouldian Finches. You can see the aviary housing new birds at the wetland centre.
There's loads to see around during day and night. There are canoes to hire on the lake, which at its centre is only a couple of feet deep. Later in the season, Sarus Cranes congregate here in large numbers. There were none while we visited - a late season, though we did see them coming into Bromfield Swamp.
Whilst we were getting prepared for bed, we were visited by a Northern Quoll and we had Rufous Bettongs bouncing past as we sipped the local Mango Wine from the winery just outside Mareeba itself (well worth a visit). This is also one of the hotspots for the infamous Buff-breasted Buttonquail though it is a summer visitor and has not been seen for a few years in the Tableland area.
Without much effort, we managed to see about 70 species of bird and a few cool frogs, that hang around the visitor centre. It was good to challenge the kids to find Northern Dwarf Tree Frogs . They call loudly but are only a centimetre long.