Queensland Night Singers

We flew into Cairns in Queensland a week ago and I hit the ground running. I’ve spent nearly every “day” recording in the wee hours of the night as well as pre-dawn and dawn, either in the Kuranda National Park just northwest of Cairns or else in Daintree National Park farther to the north.

Stream in Daintree National Forest, Queensland, Australia

Sleep has been sporadic at best, mostly me laying flat on the ground along a road or trail in the wet tropical forest, attempting sleep, until I hear something of interest … at which time I jump into action, grabbing my recorder and mike, and heading swiftly in the direction of my quarry. Luckily, it has been dry and there are very few mosquitoes here and few crawling bugs. Sure, poisonous snakes abound, but they’ve gratefully left me alone. Nights in the forest have been magical, a dreamland unto itself.

Kuranda Moonscape photo

I have many, many recordings to share, but too little time to process them and upload them to my blog. Hopefully that will change next week when we fly down to Brisbane and set up our “base camp” for Carl’s frog research. No, not an actual field camp, but I think a hotel near Newcastle. Then, each night, we’ll drive into the surrounding New England Mountains in search of frogs. It is likely that I will rent my own car, so that I can stay in the mountains through the night, in order to gather soundscapes during the magic hours when the earth delivers the most exciting and mesmerizing compositions.

Ferns in Kuranda National Park, Queensland

Below is a recording that came as a complete surprise. I got it my very first night out in Kuranda National Park. Unfamiliar birds near my sleep-spot repeatedly erupted with sound in the middle of the night, their calls reverberating through the forest. It was splendid to hear their melodious cries and have no idea whatsoever what I was hearing. Some minutes later, another night-singer erupted with a captivating whistled melody, probably delivered in flight, that echoed forever into the night:

Mysterious creatures of the night, sounding off in the Kuranda National Park northwest of Cairns in Queensland, Australia. 21 September 2012, 2:00 am-ish.

Only later did the folks here at the Cassowary House tell me the singers were the Orange-footed Scrubfowl and the Bush Stone-curlew … commonplace critters of the tropical forest in Queensland. But their names and the fact that both species are common really didn’t matter to me. I experienced their “forms” as pure, reverberant sound, products of mysterious creatures of the night, voicing their dreams across a landscape unlike any I’ve ever seen.


  1. I think this is absolutely exquisite! My little gray cat thinks it’s absolutely upsetting. Well, he’ll just have to deal, because I’m going to listen to this repeatedly.

  2. You write so well. No wonder though, since thoughts and speech are shaded by our experiences. And wow, what experiences laying on the forest floor at night!!!

  3. Absolutely fabulous! Great to hear that you are there and getting around. Can’t wait to hear more from your adventures.
    All of the players in recent posts are working fine in Safari and FireFox.

  4. Hello Lang, Good to hear that you have settled right in. The sounds are awesome…crystal clear…like in a sound chamber…very wild….stimulating. I look forward to more “new” sounds. David Marsh.

  5. Hi Lang,

    So happy that you finally made it to my side of the planet. Unfortunately I am currently In malaysia.
    If in Brisbane on Friday evening of the 5ht October, get along to the Queensland Conservatorium of Music at South Bank to hear The Lunaire Collective perform my woodwind quintet which is derived from bird calls.

    I do hope you get the record the Pied Butchebirds in Brisbane. They are spectacular singers and incorporate flutter-tongue technique as well as multi-phonics into their calls.

    Keep up the good work, Robert Burrell

  6. Lang, that is amazing! We’ll never hear anything like that here, it’s so mystical and pure to unfamiliar ears. I wouldn’t be sleeping either in such a fantastic place!

    Keep the narratives and soundscapes coming. I’d be the first to snatch up a “down under” soundscape collection!

    Good luck!

  7. Excellent recording! What a wonderfully amazing reverberation this recording has. What other mysterious sounds were heard?

  8. Your last 2 submissions from Australia will not open up with sound. Just below the sound bar there is a black line thru the text which does not appear on any other of your sites. Is this you or am I not doing something?

    • Bob: I have no idea what’s going wrong. Others are apparently able to play the recordings. I’ll check the code to make sure it’s the same as for other posts. Otherwise I’m not sure how to troubleshoot the problem.

  9. Lang, I am so happy you are getting all these exciting sounds. I worry about you sleeping on the ground. Your sister, Jackie

  10. Brilliant! That recording plays like a symphony, an avian jazz composition. I can see already where a new series of “down under” soundscapes is going to be a smash hit. Now, get some sleep!!

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