The whales are on the move, so why not move with them? You can watch the annual migration and explore some iconic parts of Australia on the way.
Tasman Peninsula, Tasmania
Image source: tasmancruises.com.au
Eaglehawk Neck in southern Tasmania is one of the first spots you’ll see whales from the land. This thin strip of land is just 400 metres long and 30 metres wide at one point. Alternatively, you can see whales and other wildlife (as well as some spectacular waterfalls, rock formations, archways and deep-sea caves) on a three-hour wilderness cruise that departs Port Arthur daily. Best time to see Humpback and Southern Right Whales is June and July.
Stay at the Tasmanian Tourism Award winning NRMA Port Arthur Holiday Park. Set on 40 lush acres, you can choose from waterview cabins, safari tents, ensuite and unpowered sites as well as bunkhouses perfect for groups.
Victor Harbor, South Australia
Image source: southaustralia.com
Every winter, Southern Right Whales head to Victor Harbor where they mate, give birth and nurse their young before heading South in September and October. Sometimes, the whales come as close as 100 metres to the shore, giving whale watchers a great view of their immense size of around 15-18 metres long. Further offshore you might see Sperm Whales, Pilot Whales, Orcas and the world’s largest animal, the rare Blue Whale. Some of the best vantage points to see whales near Victor Harbor is along the Whale Trail which includes Waitpinga Cliffs, The Bluff, Yilki Beach, Granite Island, Victor Harbor Foreshore, Hindmarsh River Boardwalk, Oliver’s Reef, Freeman’s Knob car park, Horseshoe Bay, Fisherman Bay, Basham’s Beach, Middleton Point, Surfer’s Beach and Goolwa Beach. A visit to the South Australian Whale Centre is an interactive experience dedicated to these gentle giants of the sea.
Stay at NRMA Victor Harbor Beachfront Holiday Park, right in the heart of the protected Encounter Bay Sanctuary Zone, where Southern Right Whales mate and birth in the deep water reef habitat. The award-winning holiday park features self-contained waterview villas, cabins, studio rooms as well as large shady sites for camping and caravans.
Great Ocean Road, Victoria
If the whale flag is flying outside the Portland Visitor Information Centre, there’s a high chance there’s whales about. The Southern Right Whales cruise by from May to October, pregnant females often breakaway to find a quiet place close to shore to give birth. The best viewing places to see the Southern Right Whales are Lee Breakwater and Nunns Beach. It’s not uncommon for the whales to come within metres of the north side of Lee Breakwater and you can often stand on Nunns Beach and watch the whales within 20 metres of the shore. The world’s largest mammal, the Blue Whale can best be spotted feeding during November to May from Cape Nelson and Cape Bridgewater.
Stay at NRMA Portland Bay Holiday Park, just a short stroll from the Anderson Point whale viewing platform. From this quiet clifftop, you’ll have a magnificent vantage point of the whales resting in Portland Bay. Further up the Great Ocean Road, NRMA Port Campbell Holiday Park is a great base to see the annual northern migration of Humpback Whales past iconic landmarks like the 12 Apostles between June and August.
Lakes Entrance, Victoria
Image source: visitvictoria.com
June and July are prime whale watching months in Lakes Entrance, witness the northern migration from Ninety Mile Beach, the best on-land vantage point. Travelling later in the year? From September to November the whales come closer to the shoreline as they migrate back to the southern waters with their calves. Currently, there aren’t any dedicated whale watching cruise companies in Lakes Entrance, but as the area is such a rich fishing spot, it’s extremely common for local charter and fishing cruises to spot the great creatures.
Stay at NRMA Eastern Beach Holiday Park with its great range of affordable accommodation including self-contained waterview villas as well as some of the Gippsland region’s largest ensuite, powered and unpowered sites for camping and caravans.
Sapphire Coast, New South Wales
Image source: merimbulatourism.com.au
There aren’t many places in the world where you can watch whales from your tent, caravan or cabin – but NRMA Merimbula Beach Holiday Resort is the exception. You can see the whales on their northern migration during June and July. However, it’s the southern migration from September to December where you’ll see more species of whales including Minke Whales, Bryde Whales and Blue Whales, Orcas and the less common Sei Whale as well as Humpbacks and Southern Rights. As holidaymakers flock to the Sapphire Coast for seafood, the whales are here for the krill.
The park is perched on the end of the point of Merimbula with spectacular ocean views. Accommodation ranges from one, two and three bedroom cabins and villas as well as ensuite, powered and unpowered caravan and camping sites.
Further north along the coast is another great vantage point is the 44 kilometres of dramatic coastline along the Murramarang National Park. The best viewing spots are Snapper Point lookout which also has views to the sacred Aboriginal site of Gulaga Mountain, Pretty Beach and along three coastal walking tracks from Pretty Beach to Snapper Point, Pebbly Beach and Durras Mountain.
Stay at NRMA Murramarang Beachfront Holiday Resort overlooking Beagle Bay and surrounded by National Park. There’s a range of waterfront accommodation, caravan and camping sites to choose from as well as a modern bistro, resort pool and group/conference facilities.
Central Coast, New South Wales
Image source: wildaboutwhales.com.au
The local Darkinjung people of the New South Wales Central Coast describe the area as ‘whale dreaming country’. More than 20,000 humpback whales are expected to migrate north along the East Coast of Australia between June and July. Other whales to look out for include the smaller, faster Minke Whales, Southern Right Whales along with Killer Whales. Some of the best viewing spots include Copacabana, the high sea cliffs of Bouddi National Park, and Marie Byles Lookout.
Base yourself at the NRMA Ocean Beach Holiday Resort situated on the stunning Umina Beach. It’s surrounded by natural bushland and the beautiful Brisbane Water National Park with a variety of accommodation ranging from two and three bedroom cabins and villas, glamping tents and camping/caravan sites.
Myall Lakes National Park, New South Wales
Image source: nationalparks.nsw.gov.au
The Myall Lakes National Park is a top spot for whale watching. The historic Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse at the northern end of the national park offers a great vantage point between June and October. Offshore, but still within the Myall Lakes National Park, is Broughton Island – a pristine spot for whale watching, you can also see dolphins swimming along the sandy beaches within Esmeralda Cove which can be accessed by local cruise tours.
Stay at NRMA Myall Shores Holiday Park in a villa, safari tent or camping or caravan site. The lakeside setting is a haven for water-sport and nature lovers and is perfectly located to explore a number of secluded beaches, where you can watch the whales play and swim offshore.
Port Macquarie, New South Wales
Image source: visitnsw.com
The abundance of small fish and prawns in the water off Port Macquarie draws migrating whales close to the coastline from May to November. Their playful frolicking is a spectacular sight from the viewing platforms and headlands along the Port Macquarie Coastal Walk and the heritage-listed Tacking Point Lighthouse. There’s also a number of whale watching cruises operating in the area for an up-close whale watching experience.
Stay at NRMA Port Macquarie Breakwall Holiday Park in the heart of Port Macquarie and at the starting point of the Port Macquarie Coastal Walk. The holiday park is surrounded by the beach and the river and mother whales with calves have been known to enter the breakwall area – so you won’t even to leave your cabin to see them.
An hour north of Port Macquarie is the spectacular Macleay Valley with magnificent viewing vantage points at Hat Head, Crescent Head, South West Rocks, Grassy Head and Stuarts Point.
Further north, there’s a number of beachside holiday parks along the coastline of the Macleay Valley region that provide easy access to top whale watching spots.
Coffs Coast, New South Wales
Image source: coffscoast.com.au
Arrawarra Headland and Wooloogla Headland are two perfect lookouts to spot migrating whales near Coffs Harbour between June and September. Both offer sweeping views over the coast and the Solitary Islands. There is a choice of cruises around the Solitary Islands where whale sightings are guaranteed and you can even swim with the Humpback whales. Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve can be accessed from the heart of Coffs Harbour and features a lookout point and viewing platform.
Stay at NRMA Darlington Beach Holiday Resort on the pristine Arrawarra Beach, just a short stroll from the Arrawarra Headland. The 110-acre beachfront resort is a nature lovers’ paradise with accommodation ranging from spa villas to camping and caravan sites. The resort has family-friendly facilities like a resort pool with twin waterslide and spa, a nine-hole golf course and a restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Woodgate Beach, Queensland
Image source: blog.queensland.com
With a coastline of white sand stretching for 16km, Woodgate Beach near Bundaberg is a perfect place to relax and count the whales as they cruise by. For a closer whale experience, Hervey Bay, to the south of Woodgate Beach has a reputation as the Humpback whale watching capital of Australia, where around 7000 whales choose to stopover to rest and play in the bay’s calm waters. There are a plethora of half-day and full day tours. If you want to combine your whale watching with a Southern Great Barrier Reef cruise experience, Lady Musgrave Experience offer whale watching tours from their four-level high luxury catamaran.
Stay on the doorstep to the Southern Great Barrier Reef at NRMA Woodgate Beach Holiday Park. There’s a luxury beachfront house as well as one and two bedroom cabins and caravan and camping sites.
Cairns, Tropical North Queensland
Image source – Matt Curnock: blog.queensland.com
Whale watching doesn’t get any closer than swimming with Dwarf Minke Whales. The only place in the world you can do this is in the Ribbon Reefs in Tropical North Queensland from June to August – with early July being the most likely time for the pods to be about. Although they are called dwarf, they still weigh six tonnes and grow up to eight metres long. Only select tour operators are permitted to offer this tourism experience either via a day trip or liveaboard expedition from Port Douglas or Cairns. Once the cruise encounters a pod, the boat waits until the whales approach and then swimmers quietly enter the water. The whales have a fascination with humans and will float around swimmers for hours.
Stay at NRMA Cairns Holiday Park or NRMA Palm Cove Holiday Park to experience the best of Tropical North Queensland. When you are not swimming with whales you can explore the Great Barrier Reef, discover the hidden treasures within the World Heritage Listed Daintree Rainforest or sample some of the diverse tropical produce ranging from vanilla pods to lychees, locally grown pork, reef fish and mud crabs.
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