Apply for birdwatching access

The Western Treatment Plant is one of Victoria’s most popular places for birdwatching. To ensure your safety at this operational site, you must have a permit to birdwatch at the plant – find out how to apply, and other site access requirements.

Access areas and permit types

There are currently two access areas for birdwatching:

  • General Access: includes the majority of the designated birdwatching areas at WTP including Lake Borrie bird hide, Austin Rd bird hide, and the western lagoons.
  • Special Access: includes the smaller area north-east of Gate 8 and requires an additional level of mandatory online induction safety training due to being closer to plant operations. This area is temporarily closed to new and renewing permit holders.

There are two types of birdwatching permits available – long term permits and short term permits.

Long term permits:

  • Are valid for two years
  • cost $70 (inclusive of a $50 refundable key deposit)
  • provide access to the General Access area, and  
  • upon application provide access to the Special Access area once additional mandatory online induction safety training  has been completed – however, the Special Access area is currently closed to new and renewing permit holders (see update below).   

Short term permits:

  • are available only to interstate and overseas visitors who provide valid identification
  • are valid for one visit
  • cost $20
  • provide access to the General Access area.

Update on General and Special Access areas

We’re committed to combining the General and Special Access areas, allowing birdwatching permit holders (newly-approved and renewed) to access both areas via a single, universal gate key. This requires new and renewing permit holders to have completed mandatory online induction training needed for the Special Access area to ensure the safety of visitors and plant operations.  

The Special Access area is temporarily closed while there are still new and renewing permit holders who have yet to complete mandatory online induction training. Once all have completed this, we will be able to change the lock system and transition these permits to provide access to both areas.

We appreciate your patience as we work towards improved access for all permit holders.

Site access conditions

To visit the site, you must:

  • have access to a car to reach the vast areas available to you
  • use your permit for only one vehicle per visit (the driver can take up to one car load of guests)
  • check the Country Fire Authority website beforehand – and cancel your visit on Total Fire Ban days.

While on site:

  • abide by Melbourne Water COVID-safe practices, including Melbourne Water’s COVID-19 Vaccination Policy (184.03 KB, PDF), set out below
  • wear long sleeves, long pants and closed shoes
  • carry a mobile phone, so we can contact you in an emergency.

COVID vaccination requirements

To access the site, birdwatchers must maintain a current vaccination status. This means that an individual has received both an initial vaccination against COVID-19, and any subsequent vaccinations or boosters that are required or recommended by the Australian Commonwealth Government or a state or territory government to maintain immunity against COVID-19.


  • Birdwatchers may visit the Western Treatment Plant with a medical exemption evidenced by an authorised medical practitioner.
  • Birdwatchers may be asked to provide evidence of their current vaccination status or medical exemption. Spot checks of visitors (including birdwatchers) will be conducted.
  • All guests of permit holders must also comply with Melbourne Water’s COVID-19 Vaccination Policy (184.03 KB, PDF). As the permit holder, you are solely responsible for any guests while on site.

Other COVID-safe practices

  • All birdwatchers, including guests of permit holders, are expected to individually sign in when entering the site by scanning a QR code. Signage explaining this process will be positioned at each entry to the site. Birdwatchers are not required to register their visit through our Customer Service Centre.
  • Maintain social distancing and where this is not possible wear a mask, such as in bird hides.
  • Maintain good hand hygiene.

Application and payment

Long-term permits

Apply online to renew, apply or pay for access, or get a replacement access key. As part of the application process you’ll need to complete a mandatory online safety induction, which takes approximately 10 minutes.

You must be 18 years or older to be eligible for birdwatching access, and ensure you have read and understand the following documents:

Please allow up to 28 days for processing your application, at which stage your access key will be mailed via registered post.

Existing access renewals will be confirmed via email.

Apply now

Short-term permits

Short-term access applicants must bring valid identification to the Werribee Visitor Information Centre (see address below) to collect their loan key, and return it before 4pm the same day.

  • Werribee Visitor Information Centre
    Located at entry to Werribee Open Range Zoo
    K Road, Werribee South VIC 3030
    Monday to Sunday, 9am–5pm (closed Christmas Day and Good Friday)
    8734 6006 or email [email protected]

Contact us

For birdwatching queries:

 [email protected]

 131 722

Last updated:
6 December 2021