Whale watching in Australia has seen a tremendous following over the years because of its long season: seven months to be exact, starting from May to November. Seeing these magnificent creatures up close, uninterrupted as nature intended to be, has people welling up with fascination and excitement.
Although the window of whale watching season in Australia is fast closing, there's still a chance to grab the experience-of-a-lifetime. Below, we are listing the best locations in Australia to whale watch this November.
But first, a quick look at what brings the whales over to the coasts: whale migration.
Whale Migration in Australia
Like most mammals, whales travel to where the food is plentiful and the waters are right for breeding. This rarely happens in the same place. That's why whales tend to move around and travel on a specific path throughout the year.
While most whales migrate, patterns vary from species to species. In Australia, however, the most commonly seen whales are humpbacks and southern right whales. They come here after a long journey from Antarctican waters, where they've done their feeding. Now, they proceed to the warm waters of the Pacific to breed and rear their calves.
Eden, New South Wales
If you want to see whales of all sizes swim above water, then whale watching in NSW is the place to be. Mothers and calves travel in large numbers and stay close to the shore. Sperm whales and orcas can be seen further off the coast near the continental shelf. After a day on the water, head on out to the Killer Whale Museum, which details the history of whaling in Eden.
Albany, West Australia
Southern right whales migrating north from Antarctica take shelter in Albany’s southern bays to mate and give birth before returning south to feed. Visitors in Albany can also learn about the whales at ‘Whale World’, the interactive museum which was previously a whaling station.
Port Stephens, New South Wales
Port Stephens is not only known for their 26 golden sand beaches and the largest sand mass in the Southern Hemisphere. The bay itself is home to 165 bottlenose dolphins, but it is also an excellent location from which to admire the acrobatic displays of humpback whales on the annual southern return between September and November.
Byron Bay, New South Wales
In terms of viewing spots, not much is better than the country’s easternmost point. Cape Byron on the northern NSW coast is an excellent whale watching destination on both land and water. Walking to the top of the headland gives you a 360-degree view of potentially hundreds of whales can be seen atop the Cape Byron State Conservation Area.
Moreton Bay Marine Park in Brisbane is home to some of the most diverse aqualife anywhere in the world. It’s home to a wide array of other ocean dwellers to compliment the whales and help make a whale watching adventure all the more exciting. The Great Barrier Reef is also a favoured destination of countless humpbacks during whale season.
Sunshine Coast, Queensland
The Sunshine Coast boasts a heavy dose of whale migration travelling close to its shores. Up to 15,000 whales pass through this stretch of sun and sand, with a lot of whale tours available all around. But if you really wanna get up close and personal, Sunreef offers Australia-first “swim with the humpback whales” experience where you can submerge under water (at a safe distance) to see and hear whales. One more thing added to the bucket list.
Hervey Bay, Queensland
Massive Humpback whales make a regular appearance on their annual migration from mid-July until late November, the longest among all the spots in this list. This is because of the geographic conditions along Fraser Island that form a natural shelter where the humpbacks usually stop and rest or play with their young before heading off south. Hervey Bay is also one of two (besides Sunreef) places to offer “swim with the whales” experiences. All of these make Hervey Bay the best spot for whale watching in Queensland--considered to be the capital of whale watching in Australia.
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