Escorted small group tour of Australia's megafauna
Discover the unique Megafauna of Australia travelling in a small group tour. A journey of learning around New South Wales. Visit key sites including the Brewarrina fish traps. For senior and mature couples or solo travellers with an interest in aboriginal history.
- 1. tour and learn about the Brewarrina fish traps
- 2. Travel through Inverell and Bingara which are sites with prolific megafauna historic discoveries
- 3. Vist and learn about megafauna and lightening ridge
- 4. Visit Wellington caves, New South Wales.
|03 September 2023 |
Ends 16 September 2023 • 14 days
|11 March 2024 |
Ends 24 March 2024 • 14 days
|01 October 2024 |
Ends 14 October 2024 • 14 days
Small group tour of Australia's Megafauna sites.
From Gondwana to Diprotodon: Explore the deep-time story behind Australia’s unique fauna.
Jared Diamond, the esteemed nature writer, has called Australia "the different continent". Why is this so? In this tour we ask two main questions - 'why are Australia's mammals so different from those of the rest of the world?' and 'what is the story of our fauna during the Pleistocene period when giant reptiles, birds and a collection of marsupial roamed Australia?'
We will travel 'upward' through 'deep time' to learn how scientists are finding the answers to these questions with particular reference to Australia's megafauna. We will visit sites that give insight into the biogeography, palaeoecology and fauna of Australia as these changed over a period of almost 400 million years through fossils discovered in New South Wales and Queensland. (Odyssey offers a separate small group tour to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Naracoorte to see and learn about the megafauna fossils in that unique World Heritage setting). We will learn about a continent adrift and alone for 60 million years after the collapse of the Dinosaur. How Australia's climate changed and desertification set in, and finally we look at the impacts, both past and present, that humans have had on its fauna and flora with particular reference to the Australian megafauna record.
Megafauna were global...
Megafauna was a global phenomenon, for this collection of animal megafauna species, extinction occurred at the end of the Pleistocene era, about 10,000 to 30,000 years ago, just as humans were beginning to spread around the world. The Woolly Mammoth and Sabre-toothed Tiger have typically got all the attention, however, Australia had its own unique collection of Megafauna species and a similar extinction period.
Only the African continent and the oceans today have megafauna survivors from this period. Elephants, Rhinoceros's Hippos and the Blue Whale are the large animal survivors from this period. (Other large species, such as the Saltwater Crocodile and freshwater species, as well as Alligators, arose in the dinosaur period). It is reported that North America lost about 80% of its megafauna, South America and Eurasia about 50% in this period. Scientists continue to suggest that Human activity was a contributor to the the megafauna extinction around the world at differing rates of decline in each continent. Megafauna are loosely defined as any large animal above 45kg in weight. The Australian megafauna extinction was believed to be about 70% of its Megafauna species, including the massive 2000kg + Diprotodon that disappeared from the open plains of the Australian continent. Today no mammal in Australia weighs above 90kg.
Australia did not support the diversity nor a population of "really big animals" as did other continents. Climate and poor soils are probably the reason, however, the rise and decline of mega-marsupials, reptiles and birds followed a similar path as the rest of the world. By the Miocene, around 20 million years ago, globally many modern mammal families first appear in the fossil record. Later, in the Pleistocene period much larger species (megafauna) evolved in those families. There are several scientific theories as to why simultanously around the world this concurrent evolutionary path occurred, and then universally declined.
In Australia, the majority of known Megafauna extinction sites are on the East Coast and Northern Australia and usually in Caves and sinkholes.
An escorted small group Australian outback tour for mature and senior travellers is a journey of learning around central and Northern New South Wales. The tour examines the fossil fish record in inland waters, a site where the first primitive mammals shared the continent with dinosaurs, as well as sites where the marsupiallion megafauna, such as the marsupial "lion", the giant echidna, the Diprotodon, (a giant koala) and many large ‘short-faced kangaroos’ occur in abundance.
This, like all Odyssey Traveller small group tours is limited to 14 people
This small group escorted tour with your tour guide meets in Sydney where the trip begins and ends 14 days later. With your tour guide, this unique Australia tour departs on day 2 for Bathurst. We then enjoy time exploring and observing key moments in the geologic record that build to and include the Megafauna of Australia.
Articles about Australia published by Odyssey Traveller:
- The Kimberley: A Definitive Guide
- Uncovering the Ancient History of Aboriginal Australia
- Aboriginal Land Use in the Mallee
- Understanding Aboriginal Aquaculture
- Mallee and Mulga: Two Iconic and Typically Inland Australian Plant Communities (By Dr. Sandy Scott).
- The Australian Outback: A Definitive Guide
For all the articles Odyssey Traveller has published for mature aged and senior travellers, click through on this link.
External articles to assist you on your visit to Australia:
- UNESCO: Budj Bim Cultural Landscape and Willandra Lakes Region
- Finding Mungo Man: the moment Australia’s story suddenly changed
- A 42,000-Year-Old Man Finally Goes Home
- Fish traps and stone houses: New archaeological insights into Gunditjmara use of the Budj Bim lava flow of southwest Victoria over the past 7000 years
- ‘A big jump’: People might have lived in Australia twice as long as we thought
Day 1: Sydney
Accommodation: Sydney Pullman or equivalent.
We meet in the late afternoon as a group for an introduction to the tour program. Followed by a group evening meal.
Day 2: Bathurst
Accommodation: Bathurst- TBA
Today we begin the day with two different talks in the Australian museum before departing in the early afternoon for Bathurst. The first discussion is about the Australian megafauna species and the discovery of extinct megafauna fossils in New South Wales and South Australia including Naracoorte. The second talk is the role, if any, that the arrival of Aboriginal people to this continent had on its ecology and megafauna extinction.
In the early afternoon we depart for Bathurst.
Day 3: Bathurst
Accommodation: Bathurst- TBA
Today this small group visits Canowindra and the Age of Fishes Museum. This is a spectacular fossil fish fauna from the Late Devonian, 380 mya. Australia at this time was locked up with Antarctica as part of the Gondwana continent. A local guide provides a talk about the fossil sites and museum.
Then in Bathurst we visit the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum, ‘home of Australia‘s largest collection of fossils and minerals’ ( The Sommerville collection). A guide provides an insight as to how the collection was assembled and the highlights.
The late afternoon is at your leisure.
Day 4: Dunedoo
Accommodation: Dunedoo -TBA.
This small group tour of Australia‘s megafauna today travels to sites to see Gondwana plant fossils from around Dunedoo. These are from the Permian period (225 mya). The group also visits a National park to see beautiful fish and plant fossils at Talbragar. This National park is considered to have the ‘most significant Jurassic (205 – 140 mya) terrestrial siltstone deposits of fossils in Australia.
We visit a leading boutique winery on our way to Dunedoo.
Day 5: Uralla
We continue North to Uralla today. We stop at Coonabarabran to visit the Visitor Centre museum to see a nearly complete Diprotodon skeleton from nearby Tambar Springs (our first introduction to Pleistocene megafauna). The Diprotodon was a key member of Australia‘s megafauna.
Day 6: Narrabri
Today we travel onto Narrabri. The region was a very rich source of marsupial fossils during the Pleistocene. We travel through Inverell and Bingara which are sites with prolific megafauna historic discoveries. The group will have the opportunity to possibly see private collections of megafauna.
This region is also the headwaters of the Murray-Darling Basin, geologically interesting, now rich agricultural land.
Narrabri is the gateway to the Pilliga forest and Mt Kaputar.
Day 7: Lightining Ridge
From Narrabri we travel onto Lightning ridge.
This is an where we find early Cretaceous (150 – 100 mya) fossils include Dinosaurs and monotremes, the oldest evidence of any Australian mammal in the geologic record – as well as opalised plant fossils.
We have a tour in the afternoon.
Day 8: Lightning ridge
Accommodation: Lightning ridge-TBA
The group continues to explore Lightning ridge in the morning. The afternoon is at your leisure.
Day 9: Brewarrina
Accommodation: Brewarrina -TBA
This morning we take a drive towards the township of Brewarrina in order to visit the extraordinary Aboriginal fish traps. Here we will meet with our Aboriginal guide who will explain the working of the traps, still used by local children to catch fish in the traditional way.
The Brewarrina fish traps are estimated to be over 40,000 years old and one of the oldest man-made structures on earth. This elaborate network of rock weirs and pools stretches for around half a kilometre along the riverbed and was built by ancient tribes, to catch the fish as they swam upstream.
Day 10: Wellington
Travelling south we engage a local guide from country to visit Cuddie Springs megafauna site. This is the only site in Australia with evidence of direct contact between megafauna and Aboriginal people 30 – 40,000 years ago.
We continue onto Wellington where we stay for 3 nights. There is a group evening meal.
Day 12 -13: Wellington
Accommodation: Wellington- TBA
The groups spends 2 full days in and around Wellington Caves with local guides. This is a site that shows some 4 million years of changing fauna from Pliocene to late Pleistocene. It is the site of first discovery of megafauna in Australia and ‘home’ of Diprotodon. Recent research by scientists from Flinders University has described one local deposit as ‘the richest Pleistocene mammal assemblage in Australia’.
The group explores and learns as much as possible about Australian megafauna and scientific recovery of fossils over the two days.
Day 14: Wellington to Sydney
Accommodation: Pullman Hyde park or equivalent.
Today we return to Sydney. The late afternoon is at your leisure. There is a farewell group dinner this evening.
Day 15: Sydney
Tour concludes after breakfast
Includes / Excludes
What’s included in our Tour
- 14 nights accommodation.
- 14 breakfasts, 3 picnic lunches, 6 dinners.
- Transport by modern and comfortable vehicle suitable for the highway conditions.
- Entrances and sightseeing as specified.
- Services of Tour Leader for the duration of tour.
- Detailed Preparatory Information.
What’s not included in our Tour
- Return airfares to Sydney
- Comprehensive travel insurance.
- Items of a personal nature, such as telephone calls and laundry
Participants must be able to carry their own luggage, climb and descend stairs, be in good health, mobile and able to participate in 3-5 hours of physical activity per day, the equivalent of walking / hiking up to 8 kilometers per day on uneven ground.
Make it a private tour
Easing your journey
Crossing international borders with restrictions
The list of requirements to travel internationally has changed and will continue to change for several years. Odyssey is here to assist you in managing your way through these requirements:
For more information see our Crossing international borders with restrictions page.
Book With Confidence
If less than 30 days before your tour starts you are unable to travel as a result of Government travel restrictions, Odyssey Traveller will assist you with a date change, provide you with a credit or process a refund for your booking less any non-recoverable costs.
See Terms and conditions for details.
Peace of Mind Travel
The safety of our travellers, tour leader, local guide and support staff has always been our top priority and with the new guidelines for public health and safety for keeping safe for destinations around the world, we’ve developed our plan to give you peace of mind when travelling with us.
See Peace of Mind Travel for details.
Reading List Download PDF
A History of South Australia
A History of South Australia investigates South Australia's history from before the arrival of the first European maritime explorers to the present day, and examines its distinctive origins as a 'free' settlement. In this compelling and nuanced history, Paul Sendziuk and Robert Foster consider the imprint of people on the land - and vice versa - and offer fresh insights into relations between Indigenous people and the European colonisers. They chart South Australia's economic, political and social development, including the advance and retreat of an interventionist government, the establishment of the state's distinctive socio-political formations, and its relationship to the rest of Australia and the world. The first comprehensive, single-volume history of the state to be published in over fifty years, A History of South Australia is an essential and engaging contribution to our understanding of South Australia's past.
By Paul Sendziuk, Robert FosterFishpond
Cry Me A River: The Tragedy of the Murray-Darling Basin
The Murray-Darling Basin is the food bowl of Australia, and it's in trouble. What does this mean for the future - for water and crops, and for the people and towns that depend on it?
In Cry Me a River, acclaimed journalist Margaret Simons takes a trip through the Basin, all the way from Queensland to South Australia. She shows that its plight is environmental but also economic, and enmeshed in ideology and identity.
Her essay is both a portrait of the Murray-Darling Basin and an explanation of its woes. It looks at rural Australia and the failure of politics over decades to meet the needs of communities forced to bear the heaviest burden of change. Whether it is fish kills or state rivalries, drought or climate change, in the Basin our ability to plan for the future is being put to the test.
"The story of the Murray-Darling Basin ... is a story of our nation, the things that join and divide us. It asks whether our current systems - our society and its communities - can possibly meet the needs of the nation and the certainty of change. Is the Plan an honest compact, and is it fair? Can it work? Are our politics up to the task?"
By Margaret SimonsAmazon
World Heritage Sites of Australia
Peter Valentine presents Australia’s 19 World Heritage sites in a magnificent tribute to natural and cultural history. The outstanding qualities of each site are described and illustrated in exquisite detail, along with an account of how the site came to be on the World Heritage List. In many cases, the path towards listing was not straightforward, with the Australian Government having to exercise its constitutional powers against other parties with vested interests in using sites for other purposes, including forestry and mining.
Rainforests that show the connections of the ancient super continent Gondwana. Rock art that points to a history of human settlement reaching over 60,000 years into the past.Sandstone remnants of eighty years of convict labour and imprisonment. A marvel of twentieth-century architecture. This is Australia’s world heritage.
In a thoughtful foreword, former minister for the environment, heritage and the arts and Midnight Oil lead singer Peter Garrett describes his own experience of these wonders and concern for their continued existence.
By Peter Valentine
Escorted small group tour of Australia's megafauna
What megafauna lived in Australia?
The term “megafauna” is usually applied to large animals over 100kg. In Australia, however, megafauna were never as large as those found on other continents, and so a more lenient criterion of over 40 kg is often applied.
We still have Megafauna alive, examples are some Kangaroo spieces, the common Wombat, the Emu and Southern Cassowary and the Salts- and Freshwater Crocodiles as well as some spieces of Goannas.
Examples of extinct Megafauna includes the In Australia, Megafauna included the huge wombat-shaped Diprotodon, the Nordenskjoeldi’s Giant Penguin, the thylacine (Tasmanian wolf or Tasmanian tiger), giant short-faced kangaroo, the marsupial lion and giant goanna Megalania.
What did Australian megafauna eat?
While many Megafauna were carnivorous, some Australian fruits are called ‘megafauna fruits’ because the only animals capable of eating them and spreading the seeds are extinct. Some of the large fruits in our forests only make sense if they had giant animals to swallow them and spread their seeds.
Why are creatures so big in Australia?
There is a phenomenon called Island gigantism where small animals evolve to huge sizes when they invade an island. The absence of large mammalian predators means the smaller herbivores need not be small to hide. Without selective pressure for smallness, the herbivores are free to grow to huge sizes.
Why is it called the Outback?
The term ‘Outback‘ comes from the idea of ‘Back country’, which was used in the early colonies (with recorded uses as early as 1800) to refer to land beyond the settled regions. With the spread of settlement, ‘Outback’ came into use to describe the inland, arid and semi-arid centres of Australia. ‘Outback’ was first used in print in 1869, when the writer clearly meant west of Wagga Wagga, NSW.
‘Outback’ has a number of variants, including ‘Back o’ Bourke’, ‘Back of Beyond’, ‘Back Country’, and ‘Beyond the Black Stump’ (the precise location of which varies according to local folklore!).
What is Australia's national animal?
The Australian coat of arms consists of a shield containing the badges of the six Australian states symbolising federation, and the national symbols of the Golden Wattle, the kangaroo and the emu. By popular tradition, the kangaroo is accepted as the national animal emblem.
Why did Australian megafauna go extinct?
The extinction of megafauna around the world was probably due to environmental and ecological factors. It was almost completed by the end of the last ice age. It is believed that megafauna initially came into existence in response to glacial conditions and became extinct with the onset of warmer climates. At the end of the last ice age, Australia’s climate changed from cold-dry to warm-dry. As a result, surface water became scarce. Most inland lakes became completely dry or dry in the warmer seasons. Most large, predominantly browsing animals lost their habitat and retreated to a narrow band in eastern Australia, where there was permanent water and better vegetation.
Why are there no large predators in Australia?
Some claim the animals could not have survived changes in climate, including a shift some 70,000 years ago when much of the southwestern Australia landscape went from a wooded eucalyptus tree environment to an arid, sparsely vegetated landscape.
Others have suggested the animals were hunted to extinction by Australia’s earliest immigrants who had colonized most of the continent by 50,000 years ago, or a combination of overhunting and climate change.
How tall and heavy were the ancient kangaroos?
Procoptodon is an extinct kangaroo that lived in Australia during the Pleistocene Epoch and the largest known kangaroo species that ever existed, stood at about 2 m and weighed about 200–240 kg.
What is the smallest animal in Australia?
The Long-tailed Planigale is Australia’s smallest marsupial and one of the world’s smallest mammals. Approx 6 cm in head-body length, 5 cm long tail, and weighs av 4.3 grams.
How many megafauna species are known to have lived at south walker creek?
The youngest Megafauna site in Northern Australia is South Walker Creek, Mackay, Queensland, which is the youngest megafauna site in Northern Australia and once home to at least 16 species of giant animals.
How hot is the Outback in Australia?
The Queensland Outback can get pretty hot! Summer temperatures average between 35-40 degrees, though some towns can get a lot hotter than this. Temperatures cool down between March and October, with the coolest month (July) averaging in the mid-late 20s in most towns.
Reflecting this, Odyssey Traveller has scheduled our Outback Queensland tours to leave from July – October and Feb – March 2020 and 2021.
Other Outback Australia tours
Odyssey offers a collection of small group outback tours for seniors across the States. These Australian tours are typically tour packages for 12 to 16 days in duration. Australian Tour packages include tours of western Australia for wildflowers or a Kimberley tour from Broome with the Bungle bungle range. In SA, Flinders range and Wilpena pound, Eyre peninsula, also North Queensland and the native wildlife, or Cameron Corner including Birdsville.
Odyssey, seeks on any Australia trip to go off the beaten track, the Australia vacation with a difference. We offer Outback tours for seniors that could be considered an iconic Australia trip that might include Ayers rock (Uluru), Blue Mountains, the east coast to the gold coast and Brisbane or Cairns and the Great barrier reef for example.
Explore the ancient history and incredible natural heritage of Australia, with a dive into the strange and fantastic story of Australia's ancient megafauna. Odyssey offers small group tours for mature and senior travellers, couples, and solo travelers to Australia.
Iconic Animals of the Australian Outback
Explore the wildlife and natural heritage of Australia, with its iconic marsupials, birds, reptiles, and surreal monotremes in the Outback. Odyssey offers small group tours for mature and senior travellers, couples, and solo travelers to Australia.
The Australian Outback: A Definitive Guide
Explore learn and consider what is the outback in this article. For mature and senior travelers considering joining a small group package tours into the outback to see, learn and explore about this unique place, not only the landscape but the Aboriginal approach to living. On each of the tours for couples and the single traveler you learn something different but fascinating, from Outback Queensland, the Flinders, Broken Hill and the Kimberley and the wildflowers all contribute to this question, what is the outback?
The Tarkine Rainforest, Tasmania
The Tarkine coast mapped by Bass and Flinders is a unique forest environment, explored on a small group tour for mature and senior travellers for couples or solo participants. The northwest of Tasmania including this cool temperate rainforest is a conservation area rich in Aboriginal history from the ice age.
Winton and Dinosaurs, Queensland
Small group tour for senior and mature travellers to Outback Queensland includes Winton and its Dinosaurs as well as Longreach, Cathedral Gorge and Aboriginal art, & Barcaldine.