Summer is well and truly behind us and while the warm weather is gone, there are plenty of things to look forward to now that winter is coming. I’m talking, of course, about whale season!
For around 6 months of the year, the Eastern coast of Australia is treated to spectacular whale displays. The whales migrate north to warmer waters each year so they can mate and give birth, before returning to the southern ocean at the end of the year. Which gives us plenty of opportunities to spot their splashing antics.
Whales are an amazing sight and such a great travel idea if you’re looking for some local activities over the winter. Here are the hotspots in NSW you must visit to catch these glorious creatures.
When is whale season?
According to the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture and the Environment, whale season is active between April and November.
Most humpback whales will migrate north along the east coast from June to August, before returning south around September to November. This can vary depending on ocean temperatures and feeding grounds, but still gives us a good few months to spot whales.
The later months are particularly desirable as you might catch whales travelling back south with their new calves in the water.
Where should you go to spot whales?
NSW is a hotspot for whale watching, with so many great coastal hubs on offer. Here’s what Destination NSW recommends:
Sydney has a bunch of vantage points that are in close proximity to the city. Here are some safe bets:
- Barrenjoey Headland, Palm Beach
- North Head, Manly
- South Head Heritage Trail, Watsons Bay
- Cape Solander, Kamay Botany Bay National Park
For a chance to see humpback, southern right, minke, Bryde’s, blue and orca whales check out some of the on-the-water experiences. Whale Watching Sydney, FantaSea Cruising, Sydney Princess Cruises and Manly Ocean Adventures are just some of the whale-watching cruise boats that leave from Circular Quay, Darling Harbour and Manly.
North Coast, NSW
Home to Byron, Ballina and Port Macquarie, the North Coast of NSW isn’t short of whale lookout spots. Try these ones on your next road trip:
- Cape Byron (Australia’s most easterly point)
- Ballina Head and Black Head, Ballina
- Coastal Walk, Port Macquarie
- Tomaree Head and Stockton Beach, Port Stephens
- Shepherds Hill, Newcastle
Coffs Harbour also offers the chance to get up close and personal with the whales. Jetty Dive allows you to grab some flippers and masks and dive right in to swim with the whales.
South Coast, NSW
Further south in NSW you have the chance to see the whales stop and linger with their newborns. Here the spots to be:
- Penguin Head at Culburra Beach
- Booderee National Park viewing platform
- Toragy Point, Broulee Island
- Killer Whale Trail, Eden
If you want a 100% chance of seeing some whales, Merimbula’s Sapphire Coastal Adventures has a spotting guarantee.
Eden is also one of the best places to check out. They have a dedicated whale festival in October-November with land-based whale-spotting, tours of the historic Davidson Whaling station and a bunch of other food and entertainment options.
NSW isn’t the only state blessed with good whale-watching sites. If you want to find some other great spots across the country, check out these recommendations from Australia.com.
As for spotting the actual whales? That often comes down to good timing but if you see a spout of water or an odd splash, keep watching, there’s likely a whale nearby.
Happy whale watching!