All around Australia the whales are coming out to play, frolicking in the coastal waters as they migrate North.

Each year thousands of whales migrate north along the waters off the Australian coast, providing locals and visitors alike with the chance to see these majestic creatures up close and in their natural environment. It’s exciting to spot these mammals tail slapping or breaching its full body from the water.

While there are many companies offering whale watching tours, there are just as many vantage points along the coast where you can witness the whales. Here are some of the best whale watching spots around Australia.

 

Queensland

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Hervey Bay

Hervey Bay isn’t called the whale watch capital of the world for nothing. Located only 3hrs north of Brisbane, this quiet seaside town becomes the centre of the whale watching activity for three and a half months each year. The whale watch season in Hervey Bay is from mid July – mid October.

Moreton Island

Whale watching from Brisbane offers more than simply the benefits a vibrant state capital. Pods of whales rest and play in the shelter of Moreton Bay (just a short cruise from Brisbane) taking a break from their Northerly migration to the warm birthing grounds near the equator. This makes Brisbane one of the best whale watching destinations in Australia. The whales are so common here that many tour operators guarantee seeing the whales, including from Tangalooma Island Resort.

Sunshine Coast

The Sunshine Coast is a tranquil destination for those seeking a quieter whale watching experience. The Sunshine Coast benefits from a longer whale watching season as the whale pass-by on their migration north then return as they head south again to the Arctic. For those looking to escape the crowds of Brisbane or if Hervey Bay is a bit to far to travel the Sunshine Coast is a great alternative. Here you can even swim with the humpback whales thanks to Sunreef.

Gold Coast

The Gold Coast is a great whale watching destination. As the whales migrate up and back down the East coast of Australia each winter, the Gold Coast is able to double dip as the whales head north and then again as they return south. The whale watching season on the Gold Coast runs from June – November.

 

New South Wales

Sydney

Ballina

On the North Coast, Ballina Head Lookout, located between Shelly and Lighthouse beaches, offers panoramic views over the sparkling blue water out to the Pacific Ocean. Enjoy the whale spotting from this headland or stroll down onto the surf patrolled beach and watch the whales go by as you swim or as you enjoy breakfast or lunch at the café above the surf club at Lighthouse Beach.

Iluka and Wolli

Iluka Bluff is a dedicated whale-watching platform that offers 360 degree views along the coast. While local tour operator Wooli Deep Sea Tours runs whale watching tours that includes cruising in the beautiful Solitary Island Marine Park, home to a rich diversity and abundance of sea life including dolphins and turtles.

Port Macquarie

Home to the second most easterly point in NSW, whale watching in Port Macquarie ensures close-up encounters just metres off the coast and tours that provide less travel time out to open ocean to find the whales. The 9km Coastal Walk from Town Beach to Lighthouse Beach hugs the coastline and offers stunning vantage points and a number of seats at different headlands along the way for whale watching encounters.

Port Stephens

For land based whale watching, set out with your binoculars to locations like Tomaree Headland, Barry Park at Fingal Bay, Fishermans Bay, Birubi Point and Stockton Beach, but one of the favourite spots that offers great whale sightings is the Boat Harbour headland, off Noamunga Street.

Newcastle

Book at tour with NOVA Cruises, departing from Newcastle Harbour which is only a short trip out the heads and into open water to find the whales. For land based spotting in Newcastle try Shepherds Hill Lookout, a popular spot with the locals.

Central Coast

The whale is the totem of the local Darkinjung people of the Central Coast, which plays host to a series of Whale Talks at Crackneck Point over a number of weekends and is run by National Parks and Wildlife Service, to find out details call the local National Parks and Wildlife Service office on the Central Coast.

Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay marks the half way point for the 4000km whale migration, so it is no wonder many use the bay’s waters as a resting point and a place for the newborn calves to learn, play and rest. Jervis Bay Wild provides whale watching tours that get you up close to these majestic animals as they enjoy the calm still waters of Jervis Bay. For land based viewing you can’t go past Penguin Head at Culburra and the viewing platform in Booderee National Park, located at Cape St George Lighthouse.

Eden

Renowned as one of Australia’s best spots for whale watching, Eden’s calm Twofold Bay offers respite for the young calves before making their final leg of the journey south and is one of the few places in the world that Humpback Whales feed on their southern migration in Spring. The Eden Whale Festival, 3-5 November, is the perfect time to celebrate all things cetacean.

 

Western Australia

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Augusta

Augusta, on the shores of secluded Flinders Bay is another spot for land-based whale watching. The bay is considered to be very unique as it’s one of the few places where Humpback and Southern Right whales can be seen interacting together.

Dunsborough

Three hours south of Perth is Dunsborough where the crystal-clear waters of Geographe Bay have long been favoured by whales during their seasonal migration and they’re often seen frolicking in its waters. Just a couple of weeks ago, I saw two humpback whales playing in the bay, about 100 metres off-shore.

Perth and Rottnest Island

While sharp-eyed observers can sometimes spot whales off Perth’s beaches from September until November, you’re more likely to see one ‘up close and personal’ by booking in for one of the whale watching cruises which departs from Fremantle. Rottnest Island provides many whale watching opportunities and a good place to do it is from the island’s West End.

Ningaloo Reef

World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef Marine Park is a pristine ocean reserve situated just north of the tropic of Capricorn. One of the largest fringing coral reefs in the world, it’s home to an amazing number of exotic corals and tropical fish, as well as the unique and immense whale sharks. Whales can be seen migrating north every April, while during August they make their return.

Kimberley Coast

The rugged Kimberley coast offers incredible views of whales during their annual sojourn in its warm tropical waters, where they give birth and suckle their young. However, the immense size of the area and its remoteness means that very few people get to see them unless they are extremely lucky or take one of the many cruises which depart from Broome, the Kimberley’s whale watching capital.

Where have you spotted whales before? Is there somewhere we missed?