Hervey Bay, QLD
Hervey Bay is Australia’s epicentre for whale watching for good reason.
Migrating whales take intermission here as part of their annual journey between the warmer waters of Australia’s north and Antarctica. The sheltered waters off Hervey Bay, owed to Fraser Island which sits just offshore protecting the bay, are the perfect place for them to take some time out on their journey to play.
Spotting frolicking whales in the waters off Hervey Bay is almost too easy. The whales adopt a relaxed demeanour here, which makes for perfect whale-watching encounters.
Be sure to take a tour that has access to specialised sound systems, hydrophones, so you can hear the whales sing as they frolic in the waters around you. The sound is mesmerising.
In our blog post 5 Great Weekend Escapes Around Australia we made mention of Eden being a fantastic place to cosy up for a weekend escape. But the town is also one of the best locations in Australia for whale watching.
Although whales pass by Eden during two periods of the year, between June and August as they migrate north and then again between September and November as they return to Antarctica, their return trip is actually the best time to see them here. Waiting until their return trip means you’ll be rewarded with sightings of mothers and calves.
Whale watching from the shore is possible from several locations along the coast, including Green Cape and South Head in Ben Boyd National Park.
Whaling history abounds in Eden; the town was once a thriving whaling community. Eden has a fascinating history of co-working with killer whales to hunt baleen whales, which you can learn more about by visiting the Eden Killer Whale Museum.
Sunshine Coast, QLD
The whale watching season begins around mid-June on the Sunshine Coast as migrating whales pass by on their way further north. The Coast is a great base for whale watching, with stunning beaches and warm climes year round to enjoy them, finding somewhere to relax on-shore is easy enough.
Australia Zoo operates a great whale watching tour aboard Whale One, with the zoo’s conservation mission translating beautifully to the water-based animal encounter. In true Australia Zoo fashion the tour is also an excellent educational experience.
A first for Australia, swimming with humpbacks as part of a dedicated tour is now possible from the Sunshine Coast; a unique and exhilarating way to experience the whale season.
Bruny Island, TAS
Although Tasmania is one of the lesser-known locations in Australia for whale watching, a quest to see the annual visitors to these waters is no less spectacular. The wild and rugged coastline of Bruny Island is, in fact, a magnificent backdrop for the show these majestic giants put on.
Whales are increasingly taking the time to linger in the waters off Tasmania, the first official ‘stop’ in their great migration north for the winter.
Humpback whales and southern right whales, the most commonly sighted whales in Tasmania, pass by the island between May and July on their way north, then again from September to December upon their return to Antarctica. Adventure Bay is a popular location for observing these epic giants on their voyage. Blue whales, a rather unusual visitor to these waters, are sporadically spotted here as well.
A different kind of whale, technically the world’s largest fish, whale sharks are a regular visitor to Exmouth’s waters. Ningaloo Reef, which stretches some 300km along Western Australia’s mid-north coast, is one of the only places in the world that whale sharks regularly return to.
Whale sharks can be found in these waters between April and July, and if you’re feeling extra brave you can even jump in the water to swim with these gentle giants as part of a dedicated tour to the reef. A once in a lifetime experience that everyone should try at least once.