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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Australia: Western Australia and Northern Territory

Brushtails, Baobabs and Bowerbirds

Tour Information

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour. It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space. The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.

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 a mile in duration.  Some optional walks out into habitat (i.e. 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 walk we take during the day will be short, we may cover 5-6 miles of walking over the course of a day.

Many days will be broken up into optional sections, with pre-breakfast excursions, morning/afternoon trips, and, on some nights, after dinner spotlighting for nocturnal mammals and birds. In some areas we make some long drives, so come prepared to spend a little more time than usual in the vehicles. Australia is a big country! 

Whenever possible we’ll return to the hotel in the late afternoon/early evening and we’ll almost always have a break of an hour to shower and relax before dinner. We’ll compile a checklist of the birds we’ve seen just before or just after dinner each evening. 

If you are doing more than one section of this tour it will be a long trip, so it is important to pace yourself appropriately. 

HEALTH: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travellers 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 . 

Elevation: We do not ascend to any appreciable elevation while on this tour, with perhaps our highest point being about 1000 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, especially in the interior of the continent flies can be a real nuisance at times in some years. 

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.

ACCOMMODATION AND WIFI: Our hotels will vary from fairly basic in out of the way small country towns, to international airport hotels in Perth and Darwin. 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 normally have breakfast in our hotel.  Often this will consist of cereal, fruit, juice, coffee and toast brought to our rooms. On some days we will have a picnic lunch while on others we’ll stop at a small cafe or take-away for sandwiches and a drink. Dinners are generally at or near our accommodation and are reminiscent of standard restaurant fare in the UK or US, with excellent seafood dishes on the coast. Exotic ingredients like Emu and Kangaroo are occasionally available. In general 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. 

All other drinks or ‘personal’ drinking water for use in your room are the responsibility of the individual.

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. 

CLIMATE: This tour spans a wide array of habitats and climactic conditions. Temperatures could range from 10C (50F) and possible wind and rain while on the Southwestern coast, and up to 37C (98F) (rarely even a bit higher) and strong sun in Kununurra. Most of the tour will involve daily highs around 22-28C (72-82F) degrees, and lows in the 12-18C (53-65F) range.

TRANSPORT: Transportation on most of the tour will be in a minibus driven by the leader. All participants must be willing to take their turn in the back seat and a daily rotation of seating positions will be encouraged. During some portions of the tour a local Australian co-leader will accompany the group and will take the front passenger seat. In the Northern Territory we may have to use two smaller vehicles with radio communication to comply with local requirements.  

For our internal flights (Perth-Alice Springs, Alice Springs-Darwin, Darwin-Kununurra-Darwin) we use Australian based airlines. 

Updated: 16 November 2017