If you’ve ever heard a collective whisper on the wind in Australia’s winter saying ‘ooh … ahh’, that’s because it’s whale watching season and locals and tourists alike are flocking to the whale watching hotspots.
We are lucky in Australia to have so many great places to spot whales frolicking and breeching – here are six of the best.
1. Hervey Bay, Queensland
Hervey Bay is arguably the whale-watching capital of Australia. The calm waters between Hervey Bay and the Fraser Coast are the perfect spot for humpbacks to have a spell on their journey from the Antarctic to more tropical waters for calving season. On their return journey, there’s the added chance whale watchers will see calves as well! Hervey Bay is a lovely little quiet seaside town so you won’t have to wade through scores of other tourists to enjoy the beach, restaurants or cafes either.
When to go: July to November
2. Exmouth, Western Australia
Exmouth is famous for its swimming with whale shark experience off Ningaloo Reef. There are few other places in the world where these huge marine creatures appear regularly in large numbers, making it an ultimate bucket list experience. Not only is Exmouth home to great numbers of whale sharks, it also sees the highest number of humpback whales in the Southern Hemisphere. Around 30,000 pass through Exmouth on their way to their birthing grounds off the Kimberley coast.
When to go: June to November
3. Head of Bight, South Australia
The Head of Bight in South Australia is a southern right whale’s party ground. They visit each year to give birth, mate, socialise and snack. Arriving in May and leaving in October, they spend the rest of their time roaming the vast Southern Ocean. If you want to see mother whales and their calves, the best time to visit is in late August, whereas the whales are in their biggest numbers in June to July. Another great aspect of whale watching at the Head of Bight is you don’t have to buy tours – you can stand at the boardwalk and watch them from the shore.
When to go: May to October
4. Eden, New South Wales
Eden is one of the few places in the world where humpback whales stop to feed during their migration. The meeting of the currents in Eden means the waters are rich with nutrients, making it an irresistible place for these gentle giants to stop for a meal. There are a number of boat tours that visitors can take to get up close and personal with the humpbacks, but they can also be seen breeching from the shore. Eden went viral last year when a picture of a seal surfing on a whale was posted online.
When to go: September to November
5. Warrnambool, Victoria
Each year southern right wales return to their nursery at Logan’s Beach in Warrnambool to give birth and spend the first few formative months of their babies’ lives in the calm and warm waters. There’s a specially built platform at Logan’s Beach for viewing the whale nursery, so it’s another great and free place to see these gentle giants in a very intimate setting. Warrnambool is along the Great Ocean Road, so it makes for a wonderful holiday destination.
When to go: May to October
6. Frederick Henry Bay, Tasmania
Frederick Henry Bay is perhaps the best spot in Tasmania to see whales from land. Southern right wales and humpback whales travel past the bay on their way to their breeding areas in other parts of Australia, but some do stick around to give birth in Tassie, giving people the chance to see them from the shore.
When to go: May to July
This article originally appeared on Starts at 60.