The best places to go whale watching in Australia

Whale Watching Season Underway On Australia's East Coast
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Did you know that nearly 60 percent of the world’s whales can be found in Australian waters? As a result, it’s no surprise that Australia is one of the best places to go whale watching. During whale season, you’re likely to see whales and dolphins cruising along the coastline from local vantage points, or you can book yourself a whale watching tour and get up close and personal with these incredible animals. Here are some of the best vantage points in Australia.

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The best places to go whale watching in Australia

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Port Stephens, NSW

Located two-and-a-half hours north of Sydney and an hour from Newcastle, this coastal town is home to the largest sand mass in the Southern Hemisphere along with 26 picturesque bays and beaches. During June and August, humpback whales swim off the coast of Port Stephens on their annual northern migration. In September and November they return with their calves, so it’s a great time to try to spot a mother and her baby. Port Stephens is also home to over 160 bottlenose dolphins, which can be seen frolicking off the coast and in the bays.

Best vantage point: The Coastal walking track in Wallarah National Park and the Elizabeth Beach picnic area in Booti Booti National Park.

Best tour: Operating out of Nelson Bay from May to November, Moonshadow Cruises offer a 2-3 hour whale watching tour on the largest whale watching vessel in the Bay.

Head Of Bight, SA

Head of Bight, just east of the Western Australian border and around 12 hours from Adelaide, is said to offer some of the best coast-side whale watching in Australia. During whale watching season – between June and October – the Southern Right Whale take up residence along the coast. During July and August, as many as 100 Southern Right Whales can be along the 15km strip of coastline they call home. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot a mother and her calf, or catch a humpback whale returning from Antarctica.

Best vantage point: Wheelchair-accessible boardwalks along the cliff line offer plenty of great viewing spots, with designated viewing areas east and west of the main pathway.

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The best places to go whale watching in Australia

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Albany, WA

Home to the last operating whaling station which closed in 1978, this coastal town around four hours south of Perth is now a fascinating look into history, and a great place to see Southern Right Whales and Humpbacks. Be sure to check out the Historic Whaling Station in Discovery Bay, 22km from Albany, and learn about what life was like for those living and working on a whaling ship.

Best vantage point: Historic Whaling Station boasts uninterrupted views of King George Sound and ample opportunity to spot a passing whale.

Best tour: Albany Whale Tours offers morning and afternoon tours between June and September. As an added bonus, if you don’t see a whale you’ll receive a return voucher, so you can go back on a more whale-friendly day.

Portland, VIC

During winter, Southern Right Whales meander along the southern Victorian coast to mate and breed and can easily been seen from Portland, four hours west of Melbourne. Whales may also slip into Port of Portland to have a play and a break. If you’re lucky, you may also spot a Blue Whale from November until May. Unlike the Southern Rights, Blue Whales very rarely come close to the shore, but their blows and backs can be seen from prominent headlands such as Cape Nelson and Cape Bridgewater.

Best vantage point: Southern Right Whales visit Portland Bay and Bridgewater Bay, and can also be seen from Cape Bridgewater.

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The best places to go whale watching in Australia

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Moreton Bay, QLD

As one of the main routes for migrating Humpback Whales, Moreton Bay is a fantastic place to see these incredible animals up close – in fact, it’s considered one of the best places to see Humpback Whales in the world. At any one time there could be hundreds of whales passing through, making spotting one a little easier. Spotted frequently from June until September, you’re likely to see plenty of breaches, tail slaps and fin slaps from these playful mammals as they cruise through the bay.

Best tour: Brisbane Whale Watching – who boast a 100% sighting rate – offer daily cruises with transfers from Brisbane or the Sunshine Coast available.

Bruny Island, Tasmania

Humpback whales can be spotted along almost the entire east coast of Tasmania, allowing for plenty of whale-watching opportunities. The most reliable place to spot a humpback or southern right whale, however, is Bruny Island and Adventure Bay, around two hours south of Hobart. The whales take a break in the bay for up to five weeks between May and July and again in September and December. If you’re lucky, you might even spy a pygmy right whale, a minke whale or an orca migrating past the bay. Blue whales have even been spotted, but are incredibly rare.

Best vantage point: Truganini Lookout, located at the end of ‘The Neck’ – the narrow isthmus joining the two parts of the island. With incredible panoramic views of the bay, you’re sure to see a whale or two.

Best tour: Though not strictly a whale watching tour, taking a Bruny Island Cruise during whale season is likely to yield the same results. Departing twice daily, you’ll also see seals, dolphins and sea birds alongside the Tasmanian coastal landscape.

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