Having a whale of a time in Australia
If you are near a coast in Australia, chances are you are near a location to whale watch.
The south, eastern and western coasts are most common for whale watching, with there being little activity on the Northeastern coast as the area generally does not coincide with migratory routes.
Image: Whale Shark, True North Adventures
There’s a few rules to keep in mind, vessels have to be at least 100 metres away from a whale and if a calf is present that increases to 300 metres. In the case of rarities like Migaloo, a famous albino humpback whale, a distance of 500 metres is required.
Other than that, you’re welcome to enjoy the majesty of some of the largest creatures on our planet.
For the Western Coast the whale watching season typically occurs during the annual migration (May to December) of common whale species from the South of the coast to the warmer breeding grounds by the North Kimberley coast.
If you are trying to spot the whales from a coastal vantage point, the middle of the day is your best bet, providing the best possible angle of light to see whales from far away.
Bremer Bay is a popular spot to see Orcas, with plenty of coastal vantage points in the area, as well as a plethora of whale watching tours available if you want a closer look. These tours are usually only offered from January to March.
From April to May Fremantle in Perth is another good area, this is when you are more likely to spot Blue Whales. From May to August you can see Humpbacks and Southern Right Whales from Augusta.
South Australian whale migration occurs from May to October, with the most sightings occurring during June to September.
The South Australian Whale Centre has a detailed map showcasing popular vantage spots around the Fleurieu Peninsula. These are mostly coastal vantage points, with a large portion of the area considered a marine park for the protection of the local wildlife.
For something a little different Eyre Peninsula Cruises offers kayak tours around the bay letting you get as close as you possibly can get. Other popular tours ship out from Victor Harbour or Kangaroo Island.
The East Coast has similar whale watching seasons to the West Coast.
Hobart’s coasts provide plenty of tour experiences for the early May to July season, but to spot them from dry land Great Oyster Bay and Frederick Henry Bay are your best bets.
From May to Late November the whales will be passing by Sydney. Although the Bondi to Coogee walk is a popular way to experience Sydney’s coast, you would have to be quite lucky to spot a whale on the walk. Instead The Gap on the South Head Peninsula is the best vantage spot from inside Sydney. If you are willing to spend a little more time Jervis Bay is a popular spot, with the calm and clearer water making for a much easier time spotting the elusive whales. Further North in Queensland you should be able to see them from May to November. Hervey Bay by Fraser Island is a popular spot. Even further north the Whitsunday Islands double as a great vacation spot and a personal show as humpback whales typically use the surrounding shallow waters to nurse their calves.