State by state guide to Australia’s whale watching hot spots

Australia is entering whale watching season.

These gentle giants are entering our waters on their annual migration from Antarctic waters to breed and give birth to the next generation.

Here’s our state-by-state guide to the best whale watching spots. 


Season: May-July, September-December

Taswegians are blessed to get a double dose of whales because they pass the coast twice on their migration between Australian and Antarctic waters. A whale highway, if you like. The most common species are humpback and southern right whales, but you may also see orcas and blue whales. 

Best chances to see whales: the east coast. Yep, just about anywhere along the coast you will see whales. Hot spots to watch from land include Cape Tourville Lighthouse in Freycinet National Park; Fluted Cape on Bruny Island, St Helens, Frederick Henry Bay and Oyster Bay. Otherwise do an online search for boat cruises. But rug up, it’s Tasmania in winter after all. 

Insider’s tip: download the East Coast Whale Trail to plan your itinerary. 

Getting there: Hobart to Freycinet takes only three hours, so stop off where you want to.

While you are there: enjoy Tasmania’s world-beating food and wine scene. 


Season: May-September

There are a few spots to whale watch in Victoria, but the best location is Warrnambool. This is because southern right whales come within 100m of the shoreline to calve. Yes, that’s right, whale babies. It’s a whale nursery, so they hang around for weeks, building themselves and their babies up for the long journey back to Antarctic waters. There are viewing platforms on the beach. 

Best chances to see whales: Logans Beach, Lady Bay.

Insider’s tip: travel 1.5 hours further along the Great Ocean Road to see rare blue whales feeding at Cape Nelson near Portland. 

Getting there: it’s a three-hour drive from Melbourne, or there are daily trains. You can take the scenic route along the famous Great Ocean Road, but it’s quicker to take the Hamilton Highway via Geelong. 

While you are there: loads of great pubs, Deep Blue Hot Springs, get your chance to cuddle a willing wombat at Warrnambool Wildlife Encounters.


Season: May-November

If you want to see whales in Queensland, head to Hervey Bay. It’s touted as the best place to see whales in Australia, if not the world. The area is protected from the open ocean by K’gari (formerly Fraser Island), giving humpback whales the chance to breed and nurse. A cross between a pick-up joint and a maternity hospital if you like. The males are quite keen to show off, so there is a lot of jumping and slapping of fins and tails and singing whale songs. Peak baby whale viewing chances are the first week of September. 

Best chance to see whales: one of the many tours. Expect to spend a minimum five hours onboard. 

Insider’s tip: check the terms and conditions of your tour; some will offer guaranteed whale sightings or you cruise again for free.

Getting there: It’s about three-and-a-half hours from Brisbane by car or there are flights from Brisbane taking less than an hour. 

While you are there: stroll along the Esplanade and pier at sunset, enjoy local seafood, or a day trip to K’gari. 

South Australia

Season: June-September

Victor Harbour is your best bet for whale watching in South Australia. Like Warrnambool, southern right whales come to these sheltered waters to have their babies and just generally chill out for a while before they return to Antarctic waters. 

Best chance to see whales: there are several viewing points to see whales onshore including the cliffs at The Bluff, Encounter Bay and Basham Beach, which is popular with the mother and baby whales. Also boat tours, with chances to see other wildlife including dolphins and seals.

Insider’s tip: follow the South Australian Whale Centre on Facebook for up to the minute tips for where the whales are being sighted. 

Getting there: just under one-and-a-half hours from Adelaide. 

While you are there: Victor Harbour is now a bustling tourist town, so there’s just about all you would expect with that including great food and wine, arts centres, cafes and there’s also a horse-drawn tram because why not?


Season: May-late November

You can see whales occasionally on Sydney’s famous Bondi to Coogee track, but your best chance for humpback whales in New South Wales is the Jervis Bay area. The whales use the calm waters of the Jervis Bay Marine Park to rest and play with their newborn calves. 

Best chance to see whales: on land, try the headlands from Shoalhaven Heads to Bawley Point or Point Perpendicular Lighthouse, or clifftop walks in the Booderee National Park. A choice of boat tours. 

Insider’s tip: orcas are increasingly being sighted in the area.

Getting there: just under three hours from both Sydney and Canberra. 

While you are there: enjoy beautiful Booderee National Park, including some of the most stunning beaches in the world, sea caves and plenty of unique Australian wildlife. 

Western Australia

Season: June-November

Western Australia’s massive coastline provides plenty of opportunities for whale watching. If you don’t want to venture too far from Perth, southern right whales and humpbacks enjoy a bit of a frolic in Augusta. If you want to travel, Ningaloo Reef sees the highest number of humpback whales in the Southern Hemisphere. An estimated 30,000 pass by its shores. 

Best chance to see whales: you can take your chances on seeing whales from the shore, but it’s best to take boat tours at both locations.

Getting there: Augusta is a three-hour drive from Perth, Ningaloo Reef is a more than a 12-hour drive. 

Insider’s tip: bottlenose dolphins are known to feed in the bay at Augusta, and Ningaloo Reef is one of the few opportunities to be warm and watch whales. 

While you are there: Augusta offers plenty of food and drink options as well as the opportunity to explore the region’s early settled history. Ningaloo Reef is a cradle of wildlife and, as well as whales, you can enjoy a swim with whale sharks. 

Have you ever been whale watching? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: Five of the best camping spots in NSW

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


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