Almost 60 per cent of the world’s whale population – including humpbacks, blue whales, minke whales and orcas – call Australia home. Here are our the best destinations for a close encounter

Exmouth,WA

Although not technically whales, whale sharks visit the warm waters of Exmouth to feed between April and July. Ningaloo Reef is one of the only places they regularly return to in large numbers, where visitors can dive with them or watch from afar. whalesharkdive.com

Albany,WA

Humpbacks can be seen passing Albanyen route to Broome between June and October, while southern right whales tend to shelter in local bays during this time. Visitors can learn more at whaling-station-come-interactive-museum, Whale World. whales.com.au

Geographe Bay,WA

From September to December, humpback mothers stop in GeographeBayto fatten up their young before returning to the Southern Ocean. You may also spot bottlenosed dolphins and rare blue whales with calves – the largest animals on earth. geographebay.com

Great Australian BightMarinePark, SA

From the Head of Bight region, visitors have close, clifftop views of southern right whales mating, calving, and nursing between May and October, before they depart for the Southern Ocean. Also keep an eye out for sea lions and great white sharks. environment.sa.gov.au

Whitsundays, QLD

From May to September, tropical Whitsunday waters become a nursery for humpbacks and pilot whales. Although there are no whale-watching cruises, you can see them on day boat tours with sightings almost daily in winter. tourismwhitsundays.com.au/attractions/whales/

ByronBay, NSW

Once a thriving whaling station, Byron is now a humpback hotspot between June and November. Visitors can board a whale-watching cruise or keep lookout at CapeByronlighthouse. It was here that Migaloo was first spotted in 1991. byronbaywhalewatching.com.au

Jervis Bay Marine Park, NSW

Typically a haven for dolphins and seals, humpback whales also retreat to the area’s sheltered waters between May and November on their journey back to Antarctica, particularly mothers and calves. jervisbaywhales.com.au

Bruny Island, Tasmania

Humpbacks and southern right whales can be seen passing the island from May to July and September to December, with some taking shelter in AdventureBayfor weeks. On occasion, pygmy right whales, minke whales and orcas can be spotted too. brunycruises.com.au

Warrnambool, Victoria

Between June and September, southern right whales return to give birth in the sheltered bays. They stay for several weeks, while calves build strength, but males and adolescents remain further out. There’s a free viewing platform at LogansBeach. visitwarrnambool.com.au/whale-watching

Victor Harbour, SA

From May to October, southern right whales return to sheltered bays to calve and mate – and clifftops around EncounterBayoffer the best views from land. Also look out for little (or fairy) penguins. sawhalecentre.com

Hervey Bay, Queensland

See our Hervey Bay whale watching special for an up close and personal perspective on these majestic giants.

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