Whale Watching in Australia
Winter in Australia, doesn’t mean that you must stay out of the waters, in fact cruising the waters in search of whales and watching for them from the coastline is one of the top things to do in Australia over the winter whale watching season. Over 45 species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises can be found in the waters off of Australia. As a tourist on holiday, you might associate sharks with Australian waters, but in actuality almost 60% of the world’s whales make Australian waters their home at some point during their lifetime or migratory patterns. There are 6 regions where you can go whale watching during the winter and will almost be guaranteed to see whales up close and personal. The 6 regions with the best whale watching include Western Australia, Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania. AustralianGeographic.com lists the top 10 spots for whale watching; each region has representation on the list, so no matter where you are in Australia, you are likely not far from a great whale watching spot! Here are whale watching top spots 1 – 5 in part one of our whale watching adventure in Australia!
Whale Watching Excursion Photo Credit: AustralianWhaleWatching.com.au
Whales off the Coast of Australia Photo Credit: AustralianWhaleWatching.com.au
Australia Whale Watching Map Photo Credit: Australia.com
Whale Watching in Australia Photo Credit: AustralianWhaleWatching.com.au
- Eden, New South Wales
Eden, NSW Photo Credit: Google Maps
Humpback Mother and Calf Photo Credit: AustralianWhaleWatching.com.au
There are two different whale watching opportunities here in this coastal town in the southern section of New South Wales. You can first see the humpback whales head north to the warm waters of Queensland and the far north from June through August. Then they will start to make their way back south to return to Antarctica from September to November, this time the mothers will have their calves with them.
Hiring a Car in Eden, NSW
New South Wales Car Hire Map Photo Credit: Budget.com.au
If you are planning a whale watching holiday in southern New South Wales, you have several car hire options from Sydney to Melbourne and a few choices in between. You can also hire a car in Wollongong or if you are flying in, the nearest airport is in Canberra, where you can hire a car at the Canberra Airport.
- Whale Watching in Hervey Bay, Queensland
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Hervey Bay is considered the whale watching capital of the world not, just because of the large number of whales that can be seen during the migration, but mostly because it can be done in calm waters since the bay is protected from the ocean currents and waves by Fraser Island. If you specifically want a whale watching boat excursion, many cruises are available August through October when more than 1500 humpbacks are migrating through the area. While on holiday in the area, be sure to check out Great Sandy National Park.
Renting a Car to get to Hervey Bay
Hervey Bay Car Hire Map Photo Credit: Budget.com.au
If you are going on holiday to witness the whales in Hervey Bay, chances are you are planning to hire a car elsewhere in Queensland to drive to your destination. There are plenty of convenient car hire locations all up and down the Queensland Coast. You can hire a car near Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Surfer’s Paradise, or Gold Coast. Of course, if your travel plans call for it, you can rent a car at Hervey Bay on the Fraser Coast.
- Swim with Whale Sharks in Exmouth, Western Australia
Photo Credit: abc,net,au Diver Brad Norman photographs a whale shark at Ningaloo Marine Park (Reuters: Kurt Amsler/Rolex)
Swimming with Whale Shark Photo Credit: AustraliasCoralCoast.com
For quite a different whale watching experience, you can actually get in the water and swim with the largest fish on the planet. On the north western coast of Western Australia in Exmouth and Ningaloo Reef, you can actually hire a tour to take you to swim with the whale sharks. Swimming in the water with these gentle giants is a magical and yet humbling experience. Whale sharks grow as big as 18 metres; it is hard to appreciate their immense size until you actually see them up close. The whale sharks frequent these waters in late fall and early winter March through June. Once the whale sharks leave the waters, it doesn’t mean whale watching is over in Exmouth because the humpback whales can then be seen making their way north from June through November. For other things to do while in this amazing corner of Australia, check out our blog post on the Shark Bay World Heritage Site.
Hiring a Car in Exmouth, Western Australia
Exmouth Car Rental Map Photo Credit: Budget.com.au
If you are visiting the remote regions of northern Western Australia near Exmouth, you should hire a 4 wheel drive vehicle for the rugged terrain. You can hire a car from the Exmouth Airport or nearby at the Learmonth car rental location. If you are coming from elsewhere in Western Australia, you can also hire a car in Carnarvon, or rent a vehicle at the Karratha Airport as well.
- Great Australian Bight Marine Park, South Australia
Great Australian Bight Map Photo Credit: JustaLittleFurther.com
Southern Right Whales Photo Credit: ABC.net.au
Southern Right Whales at the Head of Bight whale viewing platform. Photo Credit: AdelaideNow.com.au
The Great Australian Bight Marine Park is just off the coast of South Australia very close to the border to Western Australia and Nullarbor National Park. You can see the whales frolicking and playing in the water right from the cliffs. Many mothers and babies frequent the waters and are nursing between May and October. In fact, approximately 1/3 of all southern right whales that live in the waters off of Australia are born in the bays of the Great Australian Bight. While in South Australia and the surrounds, be sure to check out the Bunda Cliffs; for information on other excursions nearby, check out our blog posts on Adelaide, South Australia or Esperance Western Australia.
Hiring a Car in South Australia
South Australia Car Hire Map Photo Credit: Budget.com.au
The closest car rental location to the South Australian Bight is at the Ceduna Airport. While in South Australia, you can also rent a car in Adelaide at one of the many different car hire locations within the Adelaide city limits or at the Adelaide Airport.
- Whale Watching in Albany, Western Australia
Southern Right Whale with Diver Photo Credit: albany.asn.au
Sperm Whale Photo Credit: albany.asn.au
The town of Albany in Western Australia sits along the southern coast of the continent. There is a great deal of history here since Albany was the first settled town in Western Australia. Whales have long been a part of the economy of Albany, which was one of the whaling centers. The old whaling station is now the Whale World museum. Since passing a law for protecting whales in 1935, they protect these magnificent creatures and have developed a new economy around whale watching guides and tours. The best time to see whales in the area is between June and November, many whales give birth or nurse their young in the bays near Albany. If you are on holiday in the southern section of Western Australia, another great spot to check out is the Margaret River Region, which is near Albany.
Hiring a Car for a Holiday Near Albany
Albany Car Hire Map Photo Credit: Budget.com.au
Touring in and around Albany, Western Australia, there are many other local excursions you can make. Having a car allows you to make your own travel itinerary and stay as long as you want or as short as you want at each stop along the way. You can hire a car in Albany or at the Albany Airport. An important note about any of the car hire locations on our whale watching holiday post: be sure to follow all car hire safety rules and safety restrictions. Speak with your car rental agent and let them know where you plan on traveling so that they can give you travel tips, maps, and help with any other needs along the way.
This concludes part one of our top 10 list of the best whale watching locations in Australia. Stay tuned for part two of our list, which will include whale watching spots in Port Stephens, NSW, Whitsundays, QLD, Warnambool, VIC, Victor Harbour, SA, and Bruny Island, TAS.