NATURE AND WILDLIFE

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Australia’s best whale-watching locations

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

Fortunately, there are many whale-watching hotspots around Australia, in season.

From east to west, we present you with the best whale-watching vantage points this country offers.

Hervey Bay is a prime area to be wowed by whales. More below. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland.

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Whale watching NSW

Please note: destinations appears from 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.

Stay at: BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Eden Beachfront.

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 phone or camera ready to capture whales breaching.

Stay at: NRMA Merimbula Beach Holiday Resort.

Whale watching in Eden has highlights aplenty. Credit: Rosalind Butt.

Narooma: Whales typically pass Narooma as they head north in June and July. However, it’s from September to November that we’re reliably treated to a whale-fest with a near-100% chance to view these giants. The waters off Montague Island prove a popular congregating point.

Stay at: BIG4 Narooma East's Holiday Park.

Batemans Bay: Within easy driving distance from here are Murramarang and Meroo national parks, which are both highly regarded as leading vantage points for viewing whales during their annual migration. And if you don’t happen to spot whales, at least you can soak up a series of spectacular coastal vistas.

Stay at: BIG4 parks in Batemans Bay.

Montague Island, Narooma is a whale-watching hotspot. Credit: Eurobodalla Coast Tourism.

Moruya Heads: Head straight to Moruya Heads lookout within Eurobodalla National Park for the chance to glimpse whales in spring as they venture south.

Stay at: BIG4 Moruya Heads East's Dolphin Beach Holiday Park.

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.

Stay at: NRMA Sydney Lakeside Holiday Park or Ingenia Holidays Nepean River.

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.

Stay at: BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Soldiers Point or BIG4 Karuah Jetty Holiday Park.

These mesmerising mammals enjoy the waters around Port Stephens. Credit: Stephen Murray of Imagine Cruises.

Forster-Tuncurry: Join a thrill-a-moment whale-watching cruise for unforgettable encounters with humpback whales during early June to late November.

Stay at: BIG4 Great Lakes at Forster-Tuncurry.

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.

Stay at: BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Bonny Hills.

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.

Stay at: NRMA South West Rocks Holiday Resort.

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.

Stay at: BIG4 Park Beach Holiday Park or BIG4 Sawtell Beach Holiday Park.

Humpback whales can reliably be viewed with ease in Coffs Harbour.

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.

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.

Stay at: Ingenia Holidays Byron Bay.

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.

Stay at: BIG4 Tweed Billabong Holiday Park.

Whales or no whales, a visit to Cape Byron Lighthouse is well worth it.

Whale watching QLD

Please note: destinations appears from 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.

Stay at: BIG4 Gold Coast Holiday Park or BIG4 Sandstone Point Holiday Resort.

Sunshine Coast: Witness the winter migration of humpback whales from June. When these incredible creatures return south in October, you can check them out again.

Stay at: BIG4 parks on the Sunshine Coast.

The Gold Coast delivers amazing whale-watching experiences. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland.

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.

Stay at: BIG4 Hervey Bay Holiday Park.

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.

Stay at: BIG4 Cairns Crystal Cascades Holiday Park or BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Cairns Coconut Resort.

Whitsundays: From May to September, humpbacks call the waters in and around the Whitsunday Islands home. They can be seen among the islands with their young, which is a thrilling sight.

Stay at: BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort, BIG4 Whitsundays Tropical Eco Resort, or BIG4 Conway Beach Tourist Park Whitsundays.

Hervey Bay is a premier location for thrilling whale encounters. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland.

Whale watching VIC

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.

Stay at: BIG4 NRMA Warrnambool Riverside Holiday Park or BIG4 Warrnambool Figtree Holiday Park.

Phillip Island: From May to August, humpback and southern right whales frolic in the waters off Phillip Island, and visitors are afforded ample opportunity to sight these big beauties. Key vantage points include Cape Woolamai, Pyramid Rock, and the Nobbies area, while cruises and helicopter rides provide plenty of thrills.

Stay at: BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Phillip Island

There's a tale or two to be told with a Phillip Island whale-watching experience.

Whale watching SA

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.

Stay at: BIG4 Breeze Holiday Parks - Port Elliot or BIG4 Cape Jervis Accommodation & Caravan Park.

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.

Stay at: BIG4 Ceduna Tourist Park.

Southern right whales congregate around Head of Bight. Credit: SATC/Adam Bruzzone.

Whale watching WA

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.

Stay at: 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 WA. This location is even more noteworthy, as it provides the opportunity to witness the rare interaction of these two species.

Stay at: BIG4 Taunton Farm Margaret River.

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.

Stay at: BIG4 Breeze Holiday Parks - Busselton.

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

Perth: Witness the migration from Perth or enjoy a scenic day trip to Rottnest Island. Or take a whale-watching tour from Fremantle.

Stay at: BIG4 Perth Midland Tourist 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.

Stay at: RAC Exmouth Cape Holiday Park.

Whale sharks, not whales, are the headline act at Ningaloo Reef, near Exmouth. Credit: Tourism Western Australia.

Whale watching TAS

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.

Stay at: BIG4 Iluka on Freycinet Holiday Park, Coles Bay.

Great Oyster Bay is a top spot to glimpse whales.

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