Clinal variation has been described in many invertebrates including drosophilids but usually over broad geographical gradients. Here we describe clinal variation in the rainforest species Drosophila birchii from Queensland, Australia, and potential confounding effects of laboratory adaptation. Clinal variation was detected for starvation and development time, but not for size or resistance to temperature extremes. Starvation resistance was higher at southern locations. Wing shape components were not associated with latitude although they did differ among populations. Time in laboratory culture did not influence wing size or heat knockdown resistance, but increased starvation resistance and decreased recovery time following a cold shock. Laboratory culture also increased development time and altered wing shape. The results indicate that clinal patterns can be detected in Drosophila over a relatively narrow geographical area. Laboratory adaptation is unlikely to have confounded the detection of geographical patterns.