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 (2 years)
- 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 (single visit)
- Available only to interstate and overseas visitors who provide valid identification
- 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 all 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. A reminder email with a link to this training has been sent to all who have not yet completed the online induction.
The Special Access area is temporarily not accessible to new applicants or those who previously held only General Area access. We are not issuing new Special Access keys as we will transition to a universal gate key for both areas once all birdwatchers have completed the mandatory induction.
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
Apply and pay online for both short- and long-term permits (including permit renewals and key replacements). As part of this process you must complete a mandatory online safety induction, which takes approximately 10 minutes.
You must be 18 years or older to be eligible for a permit, and ensure you have read and understand our Birdwatching access conditions and hazards (219.33 KB, PDF).
Processing and key collection
Once you’ve applied online for a permit, including completing the mandatory safety induction, the next steps are as follows:
- Long-term permit applicants should 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.
- Short-term permit applicants must bring valid identification to collect a loan access key from the Werribee Visitor Information Centre (address below). Keys must be returned before 4pm the same day.
For birdwatching queries: