Australia’s winter begins in June and runs through August for most of the country. When most people think of holiday or travel in Australia, they probably think of fun in the sun, white powder beaches, and swimming in the beautiful ocean waters. However, winter is Australia also has so much more to offer. In part one, we learned all about skiing in the Australian Alps, driving through the wildflower trails of Western Australia, and soaking up the warmth and sunshine in the tropical north of Queensland. Part two of winter in Australia told us all about a South Australia Desert Adventure, Tasmania in winter, and the Northern Territory’s Top End Dry Season. In this, part three of our series, discover the majestic whale watching opportunities that come to the cooler Australian waters during the winter months and see the many different festivals, holidays and special winter time events.
Whale Watching in Australia Photo Credit: AustralianWhaleWatching.com.au
Mount Buller Village Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Whale Watching in Australia
Australia Whale Watching Map Photo Credit: Australia.com
Winter is whale watching season in Australia when different species of whales are migrating through the waters in the Southern Hemisphere. More than half the world’s species of whales swim in Australia’s waters at some point during the year. There are 6 main locations where you can go whale watching in Australia, so no matter where you are, chances are that a whale watching expedition or opportunity to spot them from lookouts along the coastline is not far away. There are different species of whales depending on where you go and what month it is. The whales are fascinating gentle giants that are awe inspiring to watch up close. Here are the 6 main whale watching locations in Australia:
- Western Australia: On the south western corner of Western Australia is where you will find both humpback and southern right whales in Augusta’s Flinders Bay in early June. From July through October, southern right and humpback whales can be seen mating and calving in the King George Sound. Then in September, if you visit Dunsborough, you might be able to spot some rare blue whales and their babies. Pygmy whales can also be seen here.
Rare White Whale Photo Credit: AustralianWhaleWatching.com.au
Hiring a Car in Western Australia
If you are looking to hire a car in Western Australia, you can take advantage being able to drive to where the whales are. There are quite a few car hire locations in Perth including the Perth Airport where you can rent a car or a 4WD vehicle right there in Perth. Many whale watching spots are near the southern coast, if you are near there, then you should hire a car in Esperance.
- South Australia: Here you can catch a glimpse of the endangered southern right whales right from the coastal cliffs near Victor Harbor’s Encounter Bay between May and October. You can hire a sightseeing or whale watching cruise from Ceduna if you want to go further out into the waters to get a closer look.
Southern Right Whales Photo Credit: ABC.net.au
- Victoria: Whale watching in Victoria can start as early as May, when you might catch the rare blue whales feeding near Portland at Cape Nelson. From June to September, look for the southern right whales nursing their calves close to shore. The interaction between the mums and their calves is quite a magical sight to see. They keep close to the shore while the yearlings and the male whales stay a little further out at sea with the yearlings. They stay in this pattern for several weeks before the long journey back to sub-Antarctic waters.
Whales off the Coast of Australia Photo Credit: AustralianWhaleWatching.com.au
Hiring a Car in Victoria
There are many available locations to hire a car in Victoria in and around Melbourne. In addition to renting a car in Melbourne, there are several other car rental locations in the south of Victoria close to the coastline, so you can find one that is most convenient for you including car hire locations in Bairnsdale, Sale, Traralgon, or Warragul.
- Tasmania: Whale watching cruises in Tasmania allow you to see some of the most magnificent and unique coastal scenery with the star of the show, the humpback whales.
Whale Watching Excursion Photo Credit: AustralianWhaleWatching.com.au
- New South Wales: Whale watching cruises leave from Sydney Harbour and tour around the coastline in the Coral Sea to witness the humpback whales as they make their way up the coast. If you don’t want to whale watch from a boat, you can see them from the lookout at the Cape Byron lighthouse, the eastern most point in Australia’s mainland.
Sydney Whale Watching Photo Credit: AustralianGeographic.com
Hiring a Car in Sydney, New South Wales
When you are going on holiday in Sydney or New South Wales, there are many different car hire spots in and around Sydney to choose from. If you have flown in, you can hire a car at the Sydney Airport; other car hire spots include Sydney East – Alexandria, Sydney City – Kings Cross, or North Sydney City.
- Queensland: As the humpbacks continue their journey north, you can spot them up close in Hervey Bay between late July and early November. So close, you might even get splashed by the humpback’s tail slapping and pectoral fin flapping.
Humpback Mother and Calf Photo Credit: AustralianWhaleWatching.com.au
Australian Winter Festivals, Holidays, and Events
Winter in the Country Photo Credit: Katoomba-nsw.com
There are many different winter festivals throughout the entire country. Take advantage of the cooler temperatures and stay warm by celebrating, dancing, and other festival fun. In the Northern Territory, many winter festivals take place because of the warm sunshine and also it is the dry season, which means that many places are easier to get to as flooded roads emerge. Here are some of the most popular winter festivals around Australia:
- Darwin’s Bass in the Grass Festival takes place in early May.
Bass in the Grass Photo Credit: http://www.bassinthegrass.com.au/2014/
- The Imparja Camel Cup takes place in Alice Springs. Root for your favourite camel in the fun races held each winter.
Imparja Camel Cup Photo Credit: http://www.camelcup.com.au/
- Celebrate Aboriginal culture at Arnhem’s Land’s Garma Festival. Dance to the ancient rythms and soak in the history and culture.
Garma Festival Photo Credit: http://www.yyf.com.au/
- Queen’s Holiday takes place in June for most of Australia and New Zealand. Aussies usually celebrate the birthday of the Queen Mum the 2nd week in June, with a feast and a 3 day weekend holiday. This also marks the opening of ski season.
Queen’s Holiday Photo Credit: DailyMail.co.uk
- Yulefest in the Blue Mountains takes place each year from June to August. Enjoy Christmas cheer, feasts, and camp fire sing-alongs all winter long.
Yulefest photo credit: Lilanfels.com.au
- Winter Magic Festival is part of Yulefest and takes place in June on the Saturday closest to the Winter Solstice. Katoomba’s streets in the Blue Mountains are filled with entertainers including musicians, dancers, singers, gymnasts, and more.
- Darwin’s Beer Can Regatta is a quirky fun event that takes place each year in July or August depending on the tide at Mindil Beach. The boats raced in the regatta are made out of beer or soda cans.
Darwin Beer Can Regatta Photo Credit: Wikipedia
- For more quirky races, check out Alice Spring’s Henley-on-Todd Regatta. It is help each year in August during the dry season only when the banks and riverbed of the Todd River is completely dry.
Alice Springs Regatta Photo Credit: GoAustralia.com
- The Royal Queensland Show takes place in August in Brisbane. It is also known as Ekka or “The Exhibition” and is Queensland’s largest annual event. It attracts over 600,000 visitors to Brisbane each winter. The show is held by the Royal National Agricultural and Industraial Association of Queensland and celebrates the rich history, heritage and how the country meets the city in this state.
The Royal Queensland Show Photo Credit: Wikipedia
- Canberra’s Fireside Festival celebrates the cool winter weather each August. Canberra and neighbouring villages going together in a month-long celebration of food, wine, and entertainment.
Canberra Fireside Festival Photo Credit: qtcanberra.com.au
This is the last in a 3 part series on “Winter in Australia”. Part one covered skiing in the Australian Alps, exploring the wildflower trails in Western Australia, and then soaking up the warmth in tropical northern Queensland. Part two covered adventure in the South Australia Desert, Tasmania’s beauty in winter, and exploring the Northern Territory’s Top End during the dry season when it is more accessible.