18 Feb 2018
Updated August 2022
Did you know that sixty percent of all whale species call Australian waters home?
This makes Australia one of the best places in the world to spot a whale. Find out where to go and where to stay on your next whale-watching adventure!
Australia's Whale Watching Season
Beginning in May and lasting until the end of November, southern right, humpback and sperm whales are among the many species that make their annual round-trip from Antarctica to the warmer waters of Australia’s east, west, and southern coastlines.
Check out our state by state list of the best whale watching spots around Australia and where you can stay while you’re there.
WHALE WATCHING IN QUEENSLAND
Where? Airlie Beach, Hervey Bay, Tannum Sands, Great Barrier Reef
At the start of May, humpback whales begin to make their way to the Whitsunday Islands near Airlie Beach where they take full advantage of perfect calving conditions for newborn whales.
By July, more of these gentle giants of the ocean start arriving in Hervey Bay, which is widely recognised as one of the world’s best whale watching locations.
READ ALSO: The Whales have arrived in Hervey Bay
Locals here even celebrate their return during the annual Hervey Bay Whale Festival which runs each July and August.
In fact, Hervey Bay’s reputation as Australia’s whale watching capital was made official in October 2019, when the region was dubbed the world’s first Whale Heritage Site by the World Cetacean Alliance.
WHALE WATCHING IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Where? Margaret River, Busselton, Broome
The beginning of the West Australian whale watching season usually kicks off in Flinders Bay, Augusta near the Margaret River region, where migrating whales come to rest and feed on zooplankton which thrives in the warmer waters.
Further north, humpback whales are regularly seen frolicking in the waters off Kalbarri, Exmouth, Coral Bay and Broome, and we highly recommend signing up for any number of whale watching tours to spot whales beyond Ningaloo Reef.
The Kimberley is another hotspot to see mothers and calves as they rest and recharge in the waters of Camden Sound and Pender Bay.
On the return journey, whales will often take shelter in Albany’s southern bays to mate and calve. If you’re lucky, you can also catch the tail-end of the season in places like Fremantle - not far from our parks in Woodman Point, Busselton and Coogee.
WHALE WATCHING IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Where? Streaky Bay, Robe, Goolwa
Did you know that one-third of all whales are born in the Great Australian Bight?
This makes the Head of the Bight one of the most spectacular whale watching spots on South Australia’s remote west coast, not far from our park at Streaky Bay. Also home to a remarkable selection of marine life, southern right whales can be spotted from jaw-dropping cliff tops here between May and October every year.
Whales are also very common along the Southern Fleurieu Peninsula. Sightings usually begin around Mid-May and whale watchers gather on the cliffs and headlands hoping to spot the first whale of the season.
Further east on the beautiful Limestone Coast near Robe, mother whales and their calves are often spotted in Guichen Bay near the famous Robe Obelisk.
WHALE WATCHING IN NEW SOUTH WALES
Where? Eden, Pambula, Coffs Harbour, Emerald Beach, Gerroa, Ballina, Byron Bay, Forster, Harrington Beach
Tens of thousands of whales turn the NSW coast into ‘Humpback Highway’ during their northern migration between May and November each year. Humpbacks and southern right whales are the most common, but you may also spot orcas, blue whales, minke and sperm whales.
In the southern coastal waters near Eden, halfway between Sydney and Melbourne, places like Twofold Bay are rich with nutrients, and act as the perfect sanctuary for humpbacks to stop for a feed on their way to or from Antarctica.
READ ALSO: Road trippin' the Sapphire Coast
On the central coast, Port Macquarie is a prime spot to see whales begin their migration south, returning to Antarctic waters with their calves in tow.
Further north, the strip of coast between Byron Bay and Tweed Heads is inundated with pods of humpbacks from May to November.
Cape Byron Lighthouse sits at Australia’s easternmost point, and is a renowned watching spot, as whales move around the landmass on their southern march.
STAY WITH US: Browse Parks in NSW
WHALE WATCHING IN VICTORIA
Where? Warrnambool, Geelong
From June to September, southern right whales begin arriving in Warrnambool to give birth in sheltered bays.
Logan’s Beach in Warrnambool has long been a nursery of southern right whales, while further east in Portland, you can also spot southern right whales as well as blue whales over summer, feasting on krill from November to May.
READ ALSO: Rediscover Victoria with these quick escapes
From May to August, humpback and southern right whales can be seen frolicking in the waters off Phillip Island.
WHALE WATCHING IN TASMANIA
Where? Bruny Island, Great Oyster Bay
The east coast of Tasmania is one of the first places whales pass as they depart Antarctic waters on their round trip towards South Australia, Queensland, and NSW.
Adventure Bay on Bruny Island is where humpback and southern right whales pass the shoreline at various periods from May until December.
Great Oyster Bay is a reliable vantage point and a cruise from Coles Bay might be the perfect way to see these incredible animals up close.