There’s something awe-inspiring about whales. These huge creatures so graceful in the water, that playfully launch themselves out of it to slap their fins and smack their tails. To see them up close, to look a humpback in the eye and count the barnacles on its face: this is an experience you can’t miss.

Conveniently, there are rather a lot of places to watch whales in Australia. In May and June, they head north from the Antarctic to mate and give birth in warmer waters, then start heading south from October until December. So from May to November, all along the eastern, western and southern coasts of Australia, you can watch whales frolicking.

“You can never fully appreciate a whale’s majesty until it dances in front of you. This is life-changing.”
– Catriona Rowntree

In Queensland you can dive with Dwarf Minke whales, while in Hervey Bay and Australia’s southwest you can take a cruise to a whale watching area and have them swim right up to your boat to say hello. There are also various lighthouses and hills along the coast that make excellent whale watching points.

Did you know?
Whales sing the most complicated love song of all animals, yet do not have vocal cords. They simply “push” air through hollow tubes in their bodies. Humpbacks are the most vocal, loudest, eeriest and most beautifully creative when they sing. Only male whales “sing” and this probably is an indication of territorial status and/or a mating cry, as it occurs only in the warmer waters.

The males remember their song note by note and when they commence singing again during the mating season, their song is the same as the one they last sung during the previous season – some seven months before.

Best time to go
May to November, all along the eastern, western and southern coasts of Australia

Further information
Useful websites:

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority website with info on swimming with Dwarf Minke whales


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Hervey Bay whale watching tours

Information on whales and whale watching in South Australia

** This is our original 100 Things to Do Before You Die. First published in 2006. There is an updated 100 Things To Do In Australia Before you die, published in 2011.

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