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Top 5 Locations: Whale Watching in Australia

Australia has become known as one of the world's best destinations for whale watching. With an enormous coastline spanning more than 34,000 kilometres (21,000 miles), combined with clean waters and sheltered bays, whale watching opportunities in Australia are plentiful.

In addition to optimal whale watching conditions across the western, southern and eastern coastlines, Australia boasts an incredible diversity of whale species, including Humpback Whales, Blue Whales, Southern Right Whales and Killer Whales (Orcas).

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But like anywhere else in the world, whale watching opportunities depend on where you are, and at what time of year. We have collated the very best whale watching locations and tours within Australia to help you plan your next trip.

In summary

1. Hervey Bay, Queensland - Ultimate Hervey Bay Whale Watching

2. Exmouth (Ningaloo Reef), Western Australia - Deluxe Mega Fauna Swim and Sunset Whale Watching

3. Margaret River, Western Australia - Dunsborough Whale Watching and Augusta Whale Watching

4. Bremer Bay, Western Australia - Bremer Canyon Killer Whale Expedition

5. Eyre Peninsula, South Australia - Eyre Peninsula Winter Whale Watching and Wildlife Encounter

Whale Watching in Queensland

While you can see whales across much of south-east Queensland, the best region is Hervey Bay.

Hervey Bay, known as Australia's whale watching capital, is located north of Brisbane in south-east Queensland. In October 2019, Hervey Bay was declared the world's first Whale Heritage Site.

This sweeping bay covers 4,000 square kilometres (1,500 square miles), and sits between the mainland and K'Gari (formerly Fraser Island). Within water depths of less than 18 metres, Hervey Bay offers spectacular whale watching opportunities, providing thousands of migrating Humpback Whales a safe and protected place to rest and interact with other individuals. In fact, the region is regarded as having some of the most active and inquisitive whales on the planet.

While Hervey Bay is a beautiful region to visit year-round, the key whale watching season sits between July and October, as part of the annual migration cycle.

Hervey Bay Whale Watching Tours

Pacific Whale Foundation Eco-Adventures Australia are a not for profit whale watching operator who have conducted over 35 years of local Humpback Whale research. Guests will learn firsthand about historical and recent whale findings from on-board marine biologists, while they collect data for ongoing research studies.

Founded in 2011, Pacific Whale Foundation Eco-Adventures Australia is a fully owned subsidiary of Pacific Whale Foundation, an international NGO dedicated to protecting our ocean and marine life since 1980. With a mission to protect the oceans through science and advocacy and to inspire environmental stewardship, Pacific Whale Foundation Eco-Adventures Australia runs eco tours and a merchandise shop to raise funding for education, conservation and research projects, with regular involvement in school visits, virtual classrooms, community forums and educational conferences.

Humpback and Ocean Defender

Tour: Ultimate Hervey Bay Whale Watching

Operator: Pacific Whale Foundation Eco-Adventures Australia
July - October
Departs: Daily (within season) at 7:00am, 11:00am & 2:30pm
Duration: 3 hours
Price: From $109pp

Explore the world's first declared Whale Heritage Site at Hervey Bay, known for coming alive with thousands of Humpback Whales between July and October.

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Whale Watching in Western Australia

With a coastline stretching almost 13,000 kilometres (8,000 miles), Western Australia is Australia's largest state. There are many popular whale watching locations, from Bremer Bay, Augusta, Dunsborough in the south, right up to the Ningaloo Reef in the mid-north.

Whale Watching in Exmouth (Ningaloo Reef)

Located off the coast of Exmouth (a two hour flight from Perth) is the world's largest fringing reef - the Ningaloo Reef. A fringing reef is a reef that grows from the shoreline, meaning it is accessible right from the beach. 

A staggering 40,000 Humpback Whales migrate through to the Ningaloo region each year, where they stop to rest for a number for months before making their return south oand start to rest after their long migration from the Antarctic.

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Exmouth (Ningaloo Reef) Whale Watching Tours

As the region's original eco-tourism operation, Exmouth Dive & Whalesharks Ningaloo is synonymous with experiencing the aquatic treasures of the World Heritage Listed Ningaloo Reef Marine Park. 

Owners Debbie & Mark Ferguson have been involved taking ecotours around Western Australia for over 20 years, managing the operations of a number of boats in various locations.

Exmouth Dive & Whalesharks Ningaloo is proud to specialise in small group tours for Whale Shark swims, Humpback Whale swims & watching, scuba diving and snorkelling.

Tour: Deluxe Mega Fauna Swim (Humpback Whales or Whale Sharks)

Operator: Exmouth Dive & Whalesharks Ningaloo
August - October
Departs: Daily (within season)
Duration: Full day
Price: From $550pp 

Experience a snorkel on the beautiful Ningaloo Reef before heading out to swim with either the majestic Humpback Whale or the world's largest fish, the Whale Shark. 

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Tour: Sunset Whale Watching Tour

Operator: Exmouth Dive & Whalesharks Ningaloo
August - October
Departs: Daily (within season)
Duration: 2 hours
Price: From $99pp 

Witness majestic Humpback whales in their natural habitat as our experienced crew teaches you all about these fantastic creatures!

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Whale Watching in Margaret River

Just three hours' drive south of Perth, the Margaret River Region is in the southwest corner of Western Australia, bordered to the west by the Indian Ocean, the south by the Southern Ocean and north by Geographe Bay.

The region stretching from town of Busselton on the shores of Geographe Bay down to Augusta, the most south-westerly point in Australia, is renowned for its stunning cliffs, pristine beaches, extensive cave networks, biodiverse forests and dramatic headlands.

The picturesque seaside town of Augusta is one of the best locations in Australia to view Humpback Whales as they make their migration north through the Ngari Capes Marine Park. Each year from late May, male Humpback Whales compete for the attention of females through various behaviours including breaching and tail slaps. This area is also a critical calving area for the endangered Southern Right Whale from July onwards, with the species resting before their migration to the feeding grounds in Antarctica in the Spring.

Further north, Dunsborough is one of the state's favourite holiday destinations, due to the tranquil waters and amazingly white sands. These waters provide a perfect backdrop to observe Humpback Whales and Blue Whales, as they escort calves born in Australia's north-west back to Antarctica. It is common for these majestic creatures to travel close to shore, as they nurse and rest with their calves in the protected bay.

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Margaret River Whale Watching Tours

Naturaliste Charters has been offering spectacular eco-adventures off the spectacular southwest Western Australian coastline for over 20 years, including the Margaret River region.

Paul and Alison Cross purchased the business in 2009, with the aim to enrich people's lives through provision of an ecotourism experience defined by the highest standards of safety, customer service, environmental sustainability and connection between guests and the extraordinary marine biodiversity of the region.

Tour: Augusta Whale Watching

Operator: Naturaliste Charters
May - August
Departs: Daily (within season) at 10:00am and 2:00pm
Duration: 2.5 hours
Price: From $95pp 

The picturesque seaside town of Augusta is one of the best locations in Australia to view Humpback Whales as they make their epic migration north, filling the beautiful Flinders Bay area.

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Tour: Dunsborough Whale Watching

Operator: Naturaliste Charters
August - November
Departs: Daily (within season) at 10:00am and 2:00pm
Duration: 2.5 hours
Price: From $95pp 

The tranquil waters off the beautiful town of Dunsborough, provide the perfect backdrop for travellers to regularly observe Humpback Whales, Southern Right Whales and the possibility of spotting the largest ever creature on earth, the Blue Whale, as they escort calves born in southward to Antarctica from October onwards.

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Whale Watching in Bremer Bay

Located between Esperence and Albany on Western Australia's south coast, Bremer Bay is a small coastal town surrounded by rugged cliffs, white sand beaches and the powerful swell of the Southern Ocean. Up until recently, this town was reletively unknown - that was until the discovery of the Bremer Canyon.

The Bremer Canyon is a submarine canyon located on the edge of the Australian continental shelf, more than 60 kilometres (37 miles) off shore. As cold water travels from the depths of the canyon and up onto the continental shelf, it brings with it nutrients which are used by microscoptic species such as phytoplankton. This concentration of phytoplankton provides a rich source of food for larger marine species, such as sharks, whales and fish.

Most notably, and the reason for the region's sudden spike in popularity, is the sheer number of Killer Whales (Orca) that are regularly sighted through December to April.

Other whale species encountered, and sometimes witnessed being hunted by Killer Whales, include Sperm Whales, Long-finned Pilot Whales, rare Beaked Whales and the world's largest animal, the Blue Whale. 

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Bremer Bay Whale Watching Tours

Naturaliste Charters has been offering spectacular eco-adventures off the spectacular southwest Western Australian coastline for over 20 years, including the world-famous Bremer Canyon, operating out of Bremer Bay.

Tour: Bremer Canyon Killer Whale Expedition

Operator: Naturaliste Charters
December - April
Departs: Daily (within season)
Duration: Full day
Price: From $399pp 

The Bremer Canyon has become one of the most sought-after whale watching expeditions across the globe, with over 100 Killer Whales (Orcas) returning to the submarine canyon each year from December to April; the only place in Australia where you can regularly encounter Killer Whales in the wild.

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Whale Watching in South Australia

The entire coastline of South Australia provides opportunities for whale watching from June to November, however there is one location on the Eyre Peninsula that is known as a hotspot for Southern Right Wales and Humpback Whales. 

Whale Watching on the Eyre Peninsula

Fowlers Bay, located on the west coast of the Eyre Peninsula, is a small town popular amongst whale watchers. 

Southern Right and Humpback Whales frequent Fowlers Bay during their annual migration, remaining within the bay for several months to calve and nurse their young. With up to 80 whales and with this number growing each year to visit this small bay, this is one of Australia's very best places to see these beautiful creatures.

Other species often encountered include Common and Bottlenose Dolphins, Australian Sea Lions, Long-nosed Fur Seals, White Bellied Sea Eagles, Little Penguins and some rare species of Albatross.

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Eyre Peninsula Whale Watching Tours

Australian Coastal Safaris offer seasonal multi-day tours exploring western Eyre Peninsula coastline, in search of Southern Right and Humpback Whales around Fowlers Bay.

Tour: Eyre Peninsula Winter Whale Watching and Wildlife Encounter

Operator: Australian Coastal Safaris
July - September
Departs: On request (within season)
Duration: 4 days, 4 nights
Price: From $3,780pp 

Fowler's Bay in South Australia is where you will encounter numerous opportunities to watch these magnificent creatures in their natural state; the Southern Right Whale and Humpback Whale.

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