Written for Beautiful Accommodation
Australia is home to some of the best whale watching spots in the world. We’ve compiled a guide to the best locations around Australia where you can increase your whale-watching repertoire.
Some destinations provide ease of viewing from coastal beaches so you won’t have to move off your towel. Others viewpoints are more suited to the adventurous traveller, involving hikes, day trips and charter boats. No matter if you’re an avid whale watcher or have only ever seen Free Willy (we don’t judge), all locations have welcoming and knowledgeable tour guides for your education and understanding about these remarkable mammals.
It is the perfect opportunity to revel in Australia’s beautiful coastline as you observe whales in their natural environment. A truly unforgettable experience!
Jervis Bay, New South Wales
Season: May to November
Set against rugged cliffs and ancient sea caves, the Jervis Bay region is a magical destination to explore secret hidden coves and lagoons. It takes a little courage to stand up paddle board or kayak in the calm waters but the experience and the view is so worth it!
The turquoise water of Jervis Bay is the ideal migration channel for whales at this time. The world-renowned white sand beaches have a vantage point on the headland that provides views so perfect; you won’t need binoculars. For a closer look, hop on deck of a charter boat where local guides share all there is to know about whale and dolphin behaviour. Keep an eye out for the resident dolphins that play in the bay all year – you won’t want to forget your camera!
Cape Nelson, Victoria
Southern Right Whale Season: May to October
Blue Whale Season: November to May
If the yellow flag is flying outside the Portland Visitor Information Centre then there’s a high chance that you will catch a glimpse of Southern Right Whales during winter. The best view of the world’s largest creatures is from atop Cape Nelson Lighthouse, a 10-minute drive from the centre of Portland.
Cape Nelson is recognised as one of the few places in the world where whales can be seen feeding from land. Blue Whales are drawn to the area at this time due to the Bonney Upwelling; a spring phenomenon where a shift of winds pump more nutrients into the water. Nutrients plus sunlight equals billions of Phytoplankton (a whale favourite) to feed on! Southern Right and Humpback Whales can often be spotted blowing water and diving off the coast – sometimes close enough to hear them sing! Blue Whales can also be seen off the area’s coastline from November to May.
Albany, Western Australia
Season: late May to early October
Brush up on the history of Albany’s old whaling station, its historic port and channel, and the islands in the King George Sound. Enthusiastic whale watchers are treated to a unique experience on board charter boats, which use a hydrophone to pick up the underwater sounds of humpback whales.
Land-based lookouts provide views of whales basking in the bay during calving, and frolicking with their young throughout the season. Sightings of Southern Right Whales have increased between Middleton Beach and Gull Rock, with more than 35 sightings reported in just one day – it’s over-whale-ming!
Hervey Bay, Queensland
Season: mid July to early November
Known as the whale watching capital of the world and often referred to as the jewel in Queensland’s crown, Hervey Bay is the ideal destination to see humpback whales up close. Boasting 14 kilometres of golden beaches, whale watchers can sit back or engage in exciting water sport activities.
Many of Hervey Bay’s whale-watching tours offer buffet breakfasts so you won’t go hungry while you unwind and enjoy marvelling at these giants of the sea. The humpbacks have made Hervey Bay their backyard, and as one of the most acrobatic and active species, they provide spectacular displays of breaching and tail flipping. Some whales may even stay for extended periods of time to relax and play with the whale-watching vessels – just be sure to steer clear of any Moby Dick look-a-likes.
Head of the Bight, South Australia
Season: June to October
Head of the Bight is an hour’s drive from Yalata and up to four hours from Ceduna on the Eyre Peninsula. With ample vantage points along the coast, Head of the Bight hosts an array of marine life sightings. The peninsula juts out from the mainland, overlooking the Great Australian Bight and providing picturesque views. You’ll feel on top of the world as you watch the glorious, uninhibited sights of whales passing by.
If you’d like to pair your adventurous side with some magnificent panoramas, Eyre Peninsula is also home to the appropriately-named Whalers Way – 14 kilometres of unsealed walking tracks, offering coastal scenery with spectacular lookouts on the way. The whales visit the southern coast of Australia before heading north to warmer waters so don’t miss the opportunity to catch these marvellous mammals!
Great Oyster Bay, Tasmania
Season: May to July, September to November
While whales indulge on krill (mmm…) pick up some deliciously fresh oysters for yourself for your own immersive experience in Great Oyster Bay. The most rewarding encounter with whales in Tasmania comes by booking a whale-watching cruise from Coles Bay. The majority of these beauties travel a substantial distance off the continental shelf and it is therefore best to head out to meet them. Look back to land and take in spectacular views of the coast with its rugged shoreline, pink granite cliffs and secret white beaches.
Humpbacks whales can be spotted on the east coast of Tasmania as they return to their sub-antarctic feeding grounds between September and November. Southern Right Whales return southward between September and late October where a large proportion of the congregation give birth in Tasmanian waters. Observe the not-so-small baby whales as they whirl and reel with their mothers – they really make a splash!