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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Australia: Queensland and New South Wales

Riflebirds, Reefs and Rainforests

Tour Information

Note: The information presented here is an abbreviated version of our formal General Information for this tour. Its purpose is solely to give readers a sense of what might be involved if they take this tour. Although we do our best to make sure that what follows is completely accurate, it should not be used as a replacement for the formal document which will be sent to all tour registrants and whose contents supersedes any information contained here.

ENTERING AUSTRALIA: U.S. and Canadian citizens may travel to Australia on a passport valid at the time of entry with an Australian visa or, if eligible, on a valid passport and an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA), which replaces a visa and allows a stay of up to three months. The ETA costs $20 USD and is easily obtained online at https://www.eta.immi.gov.au/ETA/etas.jsp.

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information for Australia at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/australia.html , and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Australia at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/as.html .

PACE OF TOUR: Walks will be of less than a mile in distance and on level ground over generally very even terrain. Some days will be broken up into optional sections, with a few pre-breakfast excursions, morning/afternoon trips, and, on some nights, after dinner spotlighting for nocturnal mammals and birds. Thus you will be able to choose all-day birding or a more relaxed scheduled as you so wish. On other days, especially when we are travelling from one area to another, opportunities to take time off will be more limited. We’ll usually return to the hotel in the early evening and we’ll almost always have a break of an hour to shower and relax before dinner.

HEALTH: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. 

They further recommend that most travelers have protection against Hepatitis A. 

Please contact your doctor well in advance of your tour’s departure as some medications must be initiated weeks before the period of possible exposure. 

The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations can be found on the CDC’s Travel Health website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/australia .

Altutude: We reach a maximum elevation of 3000 ft during the course of the tour, at our lodge in Lamington National Park. 

Water: Public drinking water is safe throughout Australia. 

Sea Sickness: The pelagic trip at the end of the Eastern Australia section can be rough, though the birds are fantastic.

Insects: Bring a strong insect repellent for protection against mosquitoes, sand-flies and leeches which we may encounter at times. In general we do not encounter high concentrations of biting insects during the tour but, every year is different, and we could encounter mosquitoes in several locations.

Smoking: Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail. 

CLIMATE: In general, spring weather in Queensland and coastal New South Wales is glorious, with daytime highs peaking around Cairns at 28C (82 F) degrees (but over most of the tour hovering in the low to mid 20C’s (low-mid 70’s). It can be cold in the mornings (especially at Lamington Park and sometimes on the Atherton Tablelands, with nighttime lows down to 5C (41 F) degrees. 

ACCOMMODATION: We’ll be staying in good quality hotels and lodges, most of which have private bathroom facilities in every room (but see below). Our hotels will vary from small but comfortable family-run in out of the way small country towns, to modern international airport hotels in Sydney. Almost all Australian hotels provide fridges in the room, tea and coffee making facilities and hair dryers. They also have self-service laundry rooms. Some of the larger hotels have a laundry service as well.

At Kingfisher Park (where we stay for two nights) we stay in cottages that contain two private bedrooms and one shared bathroom (per cottage). We always try to put two people in one of the bedrooms and one in the other, so that there are only three people sharing each bathroom. Our hotel in Daintree it may be necessary to share a bathroom if the group is large, but this is only for one night.

WIFI is always a bit tricky (surprisingly) in Australia. Where WIFI exists it is often quite expensive. Our hotel in Cairns offers free wifi, as does O’Rielly’s and Kingfisher Park (in the common areas), but the smaller hotels may lack it, and the Sydney hotel charges for it (although by joining their free members club one can obtain a free code).

FOOD: We’ll be taking breakfasts at our hotels, lunches in local cafés or bakeries, and dinners (generally) in our hotel restaurants. Meals are expansive, hearty, and varied. 

Drinks: A soft drink, a beer or a glass of wine is provided at lunch and dinner, as is coffee or tea. All other drinks or ‘personal’ drinking water for use in your room and during the day is the responsibility of the individual. Tap water is safe to drink and can be used to fill water bottles for daytime use. We will have a supply of water available in the van at all times. 

Food Allergies/Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions. 

TRANSPORT: Transportation throughout most of the tour will be in a minibus driven by the leader. Participants must be willing and able to ride in any seat in our tour vehicles. During some portions of the tour a local Australian co-leader will accompany the group and will take the front passenger seat. 

For our internal flights (Cairns-Brisbane-Hervey Bay, Gold Coast-Sydney) we use Australian-based airlines and book a group reservation.  Some international airlines have code-share agreements with these local airlines, so it is worth bringing your frequent flier information and asking when we check in for the flights.  The flight out to Lady Elliot Island is on a small prop plane and takes 40 minutes.

We take two boat trips during the tour, one on a quiet tropical river out of Daintree where we are in an open topped 12-seat boat with bench seating. The second is out into the open Pacific from Sydney aboard a larger commercial fishing vessel (normally 45-65 feet).  The pelagic trip lasts all day (7-4ish) and can, at times, be rough.

Updated: 16 November 2017