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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Australia: Southwestern Australia & Northern Queensland

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 on level ground over generally very even terrain and of roughly a mile in duration. Some optional walks out into habitat (ie off trail) will be offered while we are in the interior of the continent, and these may involve walking around brush or through some scratchy vegetation. A few of the trails, especially around Alice Springs may involve walking over some rocky terrain or through/around hostile vegetation.  Note too that although each individual walk we take during the day will be short, we may cover 5-6 miles of walking over the course of a day. 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 on those days 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 do not ascend to any appreciable elevation while on this tour, with perhaps our highest point being about 1200 ft above sea level.

Water: Public drinking water is safe throughout Australia.

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: As this tour covers a wide array of locations across the country it is easiest to break down the climate into three sections.  In and around Perth and the southwest the temperatures are quite variable, with daytime highs normally in the low 90’s but occasionally only in the low 80’s, dropping to the low 60’s at night. It will be hotter in the interior, and cooler once we are down along the southern coast.  For our days around Alice Springs it will likely be in the upper 90’s during the day, cooling off to the mid 70’s at night.  Generally the humidity is low, but February does see some interior rain, mainly in the form of afternoon thunderstorms. 

 Our time in north Queensland will likely involve daytime highs peaking around Cairns at 92 degrees, with cooler daytime highs while we are up on the Tablelands and similar temperatures on the extension.  In contrast to much of the western and central parts of the tour our time here will also coincide with generally high humidity.  Whenever feasible we will have some time off in the peak of the afternoon heat, or use that time to transfer between locations.  Rainfall is intermittent but likely throughout Queensland in February.

ACCOMMODATION: Our hotels will vary from fairly basic in out-of-the-way small country towns to international airport hotels in Perth and Cairns and quite nice resort style lodging in Port Douglas. Almost all Australian hotels provide in-room refrigerators, tea and coffee making facilities and hair dryers. They also have self-service laundry rooms. Most of our hotels have a laundry service as well. In a couple of places accommodation is limited and we stay in cottages that contain two private bedrooms and one shared bathroom (per cottage). If necessary, we try to put two people in one of the bedrooms and one in the other, so that there are only three people sharing a bathroom.

 WIFI is surprisingly not widely available in Australia, and when it is available, it tends to be slow, or very expensive.  This is improving every year, but do not count on daily WIFI service throughout the tour.

FOOD: We’ll be taking breakfasts at our hotels, lunches in local café’s or bakeries, and dinners (generally) in our hotel restaurants.  Meals are expansive, hearty, and varied.  On the extension to the Iron Range there are extremely limited options for dining, we will take some of our meals at a well-appointed café but will be eating breakfasts in our lodge and likely eating dinner in the leaders cabin.

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.

Created: 30 August 2017