What is it about these hairy, loud, ungainly mammals called seals that we humans love so much? Is it the way they sun themselves on the rocks, much as we do on the beach? Is it the careful way they look after their little ones? Is it their wrestling? Their cantankerous barking? Or the pure joy of seeing them flop into the water and transform into sleek, swift, graceful marine creatures?
“One of the things I loved about Esperance in WA. Scores of beaches, from Twilight Bay to Cape Le Grande, with turquoise waters all but empty except for seals, sea lions and a zillion fish.”
– David Koch
There are various places to hang out with happy and hilarious seals in Australia, including Phillip Island and Cape Bridgewater in Victoria’s south and southwest respectively. At the Cape, it’s possible to take a 45min boat ride into a cave where more than 1000 New Zealand fur seals live. Predictably, the seals play and show off around the boat.
Did you know?
There’s probably a set of rocks on every local coastline around Australia called Seal Rocks, because seals were everywhere when the Europeans arrived. By as early as 1820, seal populations had been reduced dramatically, hunted for their meat, oil and fur. Some breeding colonies, such as those in the Bass Strait, were completely wiped out. Today, all seals are protected.
How to get there
Qantas and Virgin Blue offer frequent flights to Melbourne from most major cities in Australia.
Cape Bridgewater is located near Portland, along the Great Ocean Road.
For information on Phillip Island, see Parade with the Penguins.
Best time to go
Cape Bridgewater seal tours operate daily, weather and sea conditions permitting.
Visitor info on Cape Bridgewater
Info on Cape Bridgewater seal tours by Sea Tours
Visitor info on Portland
** This is our original 100 Things to Do Before You Die. First published in 1996. There is an updated 100 Things To Do In Australia Before you die, published in 2011.