Australia’s best whale-watching locations

Whale breaching above ocean water

Whale watching provides endless thrills, and Australia is fortunate to have ample viewing opportunities.

Watching whales at play is a breathtaking experience. The sheer size of whales is almost unfathomable and their obvious power and grace is remarkable.

Fortunately, there are many whale-watching hotspots around Australia, and now is the peak viewing time. Australia’s east coast is lined with prime viewing spots. From late April to August, whales journey from Antarctica in search of the warmer waters of Queensland. Then, during spring, these majestic animals make their way back to Antarctica. This means there’s double the chance to spot them!

It’s not just the east coast of Australia that receives all the attention – read on and you’ll discover that whales have a strong affinity with many of our waters.

Humpback and southern right whales are the main species to watch for, although there are opportunities to view other varieties.

And where there are up-close encounters with whales, you’ll almost always find a BIG4 park nearby. It’s time to uncover Australia’s best whale-watching locations.

Humpback whale swims in ocean

Humpbacks find the waters of Merimbula much to their liking. 

Credit: Destination NSW.

New South Wales (south to north)

Eden: While the first humpbacks can be viewed in this South Coast town from May, the peak viewing period is from September to November when whales commence their southern migration. Interestingly, this defies the trend of other locations along this stretch of coast. Whale watch by day and relax at Twofold Bay Beach Resort by night.

Merimbula: Though the migration of humpbacks is the main attraction from July to December, don’t miss the chance to view blue, minke, and false killer whales. Whale-watching cruises are available: have your camera ready to capture whales breaching. BIG4 Merimbula Tween Waters Holiday Park and NRMA Merimbula Beach Holiday Park make superb bases when in town.

Sydney: Sydney and its surrounds attract whales from April to December as humpbacks continue their migration. The inshore currents are typically stronger, and whales take advantage of the favourable conditions. When in the New South Wales capital, BIG4 Sydney Lakeside Holiday Park and Active Holidays – BIG4 Nepean River have your accommodation needs covered.

Port Stephens: Whether it’s whale watching, dolphin spotting, or snorkelling, Port Stephens’ 26 golden sandy beaches are ideal for water-based leisure. Admire the acrobatic displays of humpbacks on their annual northern migration from June to August. BIG4 has a trio of accommodation options in the Port Stephens area.

Humpback whale swims in ocean

Humpback whales enjoy the waters of Coffs Harbour. 

Port Macquarie: Take a boat ride between July and October and enjoy close encounters with humpback whales: these intelligent creatures sometimes put on an impromptu show for boat visitors. BIG4 Bonny Hills Holiday Park makes a great base when trying to glimpse whales.

South West Rocks: The waters surrounding South West Rocks become a temporary home for migrating whales and their calves from April through to November. Perched on top of a headland, with a 360-degree view of the coastline, Smoky Cape Lighthouse makes for a fabulous vantage point to witness humpback, southern right, and pilot whales. While here, enjoy a stay at BIG4 Sunshine South West Rocks Holiday Park.

Coffs Harbour: The whales entertain visitors at Coffs Harbour between early May and late November. Due to their proximity to the cliffs, these giants of the ocean are renowned for putting on a wonderful performance, and excellent whale-viewing spots abound. When in Coffs Harbour, base yourself at either BIG4 Emerald Beach Holiday Park or NRMA Darlington Beach Holiday Park.

Hastings Point: Humpback whales can usually be spotted between June and October, and this location is the perfect place to watch. These creatures can be seen with ease from Hastings Point Headland, just a five-minute stroll from BIG4 North Star Holiday Resort.

Byron Bay: This holiday hotspot is a whale-watching hotspot, too. Between May and November, whales can be regularly spotted splashing about, and Cape Byron Lighthouse is a prime position to take in the action. Even if the whales are not being cooperative you’ll love the glittering views from here. The best base for a stay is Byron Holiday Park.

Tweed Heads: Enjoy spotting humpbacks as they continue their migration. Keep an eye out for Migaloo, the only known albino humpback whale. It frequents Tweed Heads in June when migrating north and then in September on the return migration south. After a busy day’s whale watching, BIG4 Tweed Billabong Holiday Park is the perfect accommodation option.

Two whales swim in ocean

Hervey Bay is a renowned whale hotspot.

Queensland (south to north)

Gold Coast and Brisbane: From May until November, spot a wealth of humpbacks in the waters around these cities. Whales often hover close to shore, providing great viewing and photo opportunities. When on the Gold Coast, choose from a stay at either BIG4 Gold Coast Holiday Park or BIG4 NRMA Treasure Island Holiday Park.

Sunshine Coast: Escape to warmer weather and watch the winter migration of humpback whales from June. When these incredible creatures return south in October, you can check them out again. BIG4 accommodation on the Sunshine Coast is abundant.

Hervey Bay: Humpbacks have made Hervey Bay part of their annual migration, and this city is a renowned whale-watching hotspot. The whales begin to arrive from mid-July and remain until late November before heading south again. Due to the sheltered waters, they often rest or play with their young. When in Hervey Bay, BIG4 Point Vernon Holiday Park is the ideal accommodation choice.

Cairns: In July and August, there is a wealth of opportunity to spot humpbacks as well as dwarf minke whales. Literally thousands of whales converge on these waters, ensuring it’s easy to grab a glimpse. BIG4 has two great parks in Cairns: BIG4 Cairns Coconut Resort and BIG4 Cairns Crystal Cascades Holiday Park.

Whitsundays: From May to September, humpbacks call the waters in and around the Whitsunday Islands home. Humpbacks can be seen among the islands with their young, which is a thrilling sight. Base yourself at one of three BIG4 parks in the Whitsundays region.

Whale breaches out of ocean at the Gold Coast.

Whale watching on the Gold Coast is sure to thrill.

Victoria

Warrnambool: Each year, southern right whales return to Warrnambool to give birth in the sheltered bays along the coast. Enjoy the free viewing platform off Logan’s Beach and spot whales from June until September. A couple of welcoming BIG4 parks in Warrnambool suit whale-watching adventures: BIG4 Hopkins River Holiday Park and Discovery Holiday Parks – Warrnambool.

 

South Australia

Victor Harbor: This popular seaside town attracts southern right whales in July and August. These giants use the waters to calve and mate and can be viewed close to shore. Nearby Port Elliot Holiday Park makes a fine base for Fleurieu Peninsula adventures.

The Great Australian Bight: The Head of Bight is the most prominent viewing section of this widespread area, which is found on South Australia’s remote west coast. This region is home to a remarkable assortment of marine life, including southern right whales that can be spotted from jaw-dropping cliff tops between May and October. Visit when staying at BIG4 Ceduna Tourist Park.

Whales at play, like this one near Busselton in Western Australia, make for a remarkable sight. 

Western Australia

Albany: Humpbacks travelling northwest can be viewed from Albany’s bays from June to November. Southern right whales also migrate north from Antarctica, and they shelter in Albany’s southern bays to mate and give birth before returning south. Two BIG4 parks in Albany will take care of your accommodation needs: BIG4 Emu Beach Holiday Park and BIG4 Middleton Beach Holiday Park.

Augusta: Head to Flinders Bay from June to August and witness the annual migration of humpback and southern right whales from Antarctica to the warmer conditions in Western Australia. This location is even more noteworthy, as it provides the opportunity to witness the rare interaction of these two species.

Busselton: Following the show in Augusta, whales continue north and entertain crowds as they pass by the Margaret River region and later enjoy the waters of magnificent Geographe Bay. With its positioning on the shores of Geographe Bay, Busselton is a great launch point for whale-watching tours, particularly so from September to December. Or head to nearby Point Piquet or Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, which are both exceptional spots for viewing whales. You may even spot a massive blue whale. While in Busselton, make your base at BIG4 Beachlands Holiday Park or BIG4 Peppermint Park.

Tiger shark swims in ocean

Whale sharks, not whales, are the headline act at Ningaloo Reef, near Exmouth.

Perth: Witness the migration from Perth or enjoy a scenic day trip to Rottnest Island. Whether it’s a whale watching cruise or a coastal vantage point that you choose, base yourself at Discovery Holiday Parks – Perth or Perth Vineyards Holiday Park. Or take a whale-watching tour from Fremantle when staying at Woodman Point Holiday Park.

Exmouth: Between April and July, Ningaloo Reef, near Exmouth, receives visitors with a difference – humungous whale sharks. The opportunity to swim with these incredible creatures is simply breathtaking. When here, enjoy a stay at Exmouth Cape Holiday Park.

 

Tasmania

Great Oyster Bay: You could add most of Tasmania’s East Coast region to this list, as this beautiful stretch attracts abundant whales in season. Humpback and southern right whales are reliably spotted from May onwards in Great Oyster Bay, and taking a cruise from Coles Bay is the ideal way to see these magnificent creatures up close. While here, relax at BIG4 Iluka on Freycinet Holiday Park.

 

Prepare to be enthralled, captivated, and amazed with a whale-watching experience.

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