We are offering two excursions to highlight local natural history attractions. Excursions will take place on Saturday the 11th of November and must be booked in advance (see below).

Port Philip Bay Boat & Snorkel Tour
This half-day tour is operated by Sea All Dolphin Swims and leaves from the historic port of Queenscliff to explore the local area and highly diverse Port Philip Heads Marine National Park.

Description: Guided by the Sea All Dolphins Swims crew and local academic, the tour starts with a snorkel at Pope’s Eye, an artificial structure which supports a variety of marine species including reef fish, giant kelp, cuttlefish, and coral. Pope’s Eye is an important nesting area for Australasian gannets with c.180 pairs breeding there annually. From both the boat and the water you’ll have a great view and opportunity to photograph the nesting gannets.

The tour continues on past Mud Islands, a RAMSAR listed site, with over 70 bird species recorded on the low-lying islands. Due to the shallow waters the boat cannot stop at the islands, however, there will be an opportunity for birdwatching within the area. Over 50,000 pairs of silver gulls, white-faced storm petrels, as well as crested terns and Caspian terns breed on Mud Islands, while it also provides a major high-tide roost site for waders including red knots, great knots, eastern curlews and bar-tailed godwits.

Next the tour stops at Chinaman’s Hat which serves as a local haul-out for Australian fur seals. There, you will have the unique opportunity to share the water with the seals, swimming and snorkelling alongside them. If time permits, the tour will include a visit to Sorrento jetty to snorkel with the leafy sea dragons and explore the reef there too. Throughout the duration of the tour we will be on the lookout for birds and dolphins, and if spotted, there will be the chance for a memorable swim with the dolphins.

The tour will be offered in the morning on Saturday, 11th November, 2017 with 29 places offered per tour. Booking is essential to secure a place, please state your preference for the morning or afternoon tour upon booking. Please note that depending on weather and water conditions the tour operators may need to alter the program or locality to suit.

Date: Saturday 11th, November 2017
Time: Morning
Places: 29 per tour
Cost: $80 per person
How to book: Click here!

Bird Watching (Full)
This half-day tour will explore the local avifauna at the Melbourne Water’s Treatment Plant (a local hot spot for birders).

Description: Melbourne Water’s Western Treatment Plant (WTP) is one of the most popular sites for bird watching in Victoria. The site is 10,500 ha large (Map) and its lagoons, grasslands and coastline provide a haven for tens of thousands of birds thanks to its variety of landforms, lots of different tree and plant species, the permanent water supply, plenty of food, and little interference from humans. So far, as many as 284 different species of birds have been recorded at the site and a day’s worth of bird watching may get you 100+ species. No wonder that large parts of the WTP have been declared a sanctuary for the protection of native fauna and much of the surrounding area has been recognised as a wetland of international significance under the Ramsar Convention.

Although many bird species will be on show, including some rare endangered species (See bird species list), given the time of year we may notably expect to see a large number and variety of long-distance migratory shorebirds, that have just made their way down from Siberia and Alaska. Asian Dowitcher and Buff-breasted Sandpiper are no guarantee, but an exciting possibility, along with other vagrants and rarities.

While being a haven for birds and bird-watchers alike, access to the site is restricted to permit holders only. Therefore, using mini-buses (12-seaters) with knowledgeable bird guides, we will visit the site during a 4-5 hour excursion, leaving central Geelong near the conference venue at around 9 am (an info package including details on pickup locations and timings will be provided at a later stage). Participants will be returned to central Geelong by mid-afternoon and should bring their own packed lunch. Please note: wearing of long pants and flat enclosed shoes is a requirement to enter the site and on days of total fire ban the site cannot be accessed.

Date: Saturday 11th, November 2017
Time: 9 AM – 1 or 2 PM
Places: 40
Cost: $40 per person
How to book: This excursion is full! We suggest having a look at he snorkel tour instead.

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