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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: UK, US 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 can only be obtained online. NOTE as of 2022 you must download the app for the ETA from the app store. The ETA must be obtained BEFORE departure and should be done as soon as you purchase your flights, just to give yourself extra time. Instructions as well as a link to download the app are available here:

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information here: Review foreign travel advice from the UK government here: and travel advice and advisories from the Government of Canada here:

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 frequently 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 .

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 usually fantastic. Please bring the appropriate treatment as your constitution dictates.  Those who suffer badly from seasickness may prefer to spend the day sightseeing in Sydney. Note that our tour schedule does not include sightseeing in Sydney. Those wishing to do this, as well as the pelagic trip, might prefer to spend an extra night in Sydney at the end of the tour. We can arrange this on request.  Note also that the sea conditions are often marginal in spring, and we may have to cancel the boat trip at short notice if conditions are poor. 

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 three 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. Note that there are also a limited number of rooms at this small hotel so if there are too many participants who request single rooms we may have to assign a roommate for these nights.

WIFI is always a bit tricky (surprisingly) in Australia. Our hotel in Cairns and Sydney offer free wifi, as does O’Reilly’s (in the common area) and our hotel in Maryborough, but the smaller hotels may lack it.

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 12-seater prop plane and takes about 35 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 50-65 feet).  The pelagic trip lasts all day (7-4ish) and can, at times, be rough (and is occasionally cancelled if conditions warrant).

Updated: 30 November 2023