Best Whale Watching Spots In Australia 2020

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Australia is one of the best places in the world to enjoy whale watching, with more than 45 species of whales dolphins and porpoises calling Australia home, and this year's annual migration is already well underway, with whales spotted on the move since early May. The most commonly sighted whales are southern rights and humpbacks, which make annual migration up both the west and east coasts of Australia from Antarctica, to breed and mate, however you may also get the chance to spot blue whales, minke whales and orcas from a number of spots along Australia's coastline. Covid-19 might have changed how you spot whales this year in terms of tours, but if you're going it alone, here’s a collection of our favourite places around the country to head out to in order to spot these fascinating animals.

New South Wales

Byron Bay: Cape Byron on the northern NSW coast is an excellent whale watching destination on both land and water, with its headland offering a lovely walking track and an ideal place for whale watching. It does get busy during whale season, the peak time of which is June to November, but 360 degree views offer a great opportunity to spot humpbacks, and local pods of dolphins.

Eden: The first humpbacks making their annual journey to the warmer waters off Queensland can often be seen between in from here between June and August, while between September and November you'll see mothers and calves as they return south to Antarctica. Humpbacks tend to travel in large numbers and stay close to shore with their young, while sperm whales and orcas can be seen further off the coast near the continental shelf. 

Port Stephens: Port Stephens is blessed with 26 golden sandy beaches, with the bay itself home to more than 150 bottlenose dolphins. It is also an excellent location to spot humpback whales on the annual northern migration between June and August, and the southern return between September and November.

Sydney: Australia’s most beautiful harbour city is home to a variety of marine life, including whales which can be seen each year during their annual migratory season from May to November. Popular places include Botany Bay and Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Parks, which are blessed with sweeping ocean views, also the popular Bondi to Coogee Walkway offers potential sightings, along with Manly on the Northern Beaches.


The Gold Coast: It may be more famous for nightlife and family attractions, but the Gold Coast is also home to over 70 kilometres of beaches stretching from the upper Tweed in the south, to Main Beach in the north. Along the way there are plenty of popular and highly accessibly lookouts and tour departure points, as well as a long season, thanks to large shallow bays, inlets and warm water making it a favourite destination for whales to linger with their calves. Around 12,000 to 15,000 whales per year pass by the Gold Coast over the course of a five-month whale watching period from May to November.

Hervey Bay: Humpback whales have made this pretty southern Queensland town a regular stop on their annual migration, arriving in Hervey Bay from mid-July and often staying until late November. The waters are sheltered by Fraser Island, so the whales stop to rest or play - especially with their young.

Sunshine Coast: Whale watching here is mostly from boats off shore on organised tours, with departure points including Noosa or Mooloolaba, and different sized vessels. This part of QLD is blessed with large whale numbers each year, with around 15,000 passing this region, with the key months being August to October.

The Whitsundays: From May to September each year humpback whales make the waters in and around the stunning Whitsunday Islands their home. The waters are shallow, sheltered and warm, making it the ideal place for calving and as a nursery for newborn whales. 


Bruny Island: Humpback whales and southern right whales cruise past Bruny Island each year between May and July, and September and December, with some stopping to take shelter in Adventure Bay. Some whales stay for as long as five weeks and occasionally, other whale species like the pygmy right whale, minke whale and the orca can also be spotted.


Philip Island: Although you won’t see as many whales from here in other Victorian locations, the ruggedly scenic coastal landscapes and other marine life make the Phillip Island unique. A bonus is viewing the Penguin Parade of Little Penguins as they make their way ashore in the evening. The key time of year for spotting whales is June to August.

Warnambool: This is a popular place for souther right whales to return to, and to give birth in sheltered bays along the coast, and great for whale watchers, they are easy to spot as they like to stay close to the shore. The whales start arriving in June and usually stay until September.  

Victor Harbour: This is another great spot in the south, with most reliable time to whale watch being July or August, when southern right whales return to the sheltered bays to calve and mate, and stay close to shore. Victor Harbour is also home to a colony of fairy penguins. 

South Australia 

The Head of Bight: This remote area provides excellent cliff-top viewing of southern right whales mating, calving, and nursing between May and October, often close to shore. And there’s another bonus as dolphins, sea lions and great white sharks also live here and can be spotted. 

Western Australia

Albany: Humpback whales travelling north towards Broome can often be seen swimming through Albany's bays between June and November. Southern right whales also migrate north from Antarctica, and often take shelter in Albany's southern bays to mate and give birth before returning south. 


Ben Hall


  • 5
    Forget Byron

    Posted by Susan Jacobs on 29th Jun 2020

    Byron is always too busy. Head to Kingscliff instead.

  • 5

    Posted by KarmaQueen on 29th Jun 2020

    We live in the northern Gold Coast and walk our dog early every morning....we've seen so many whales so far this season! First the blue butterflies and now this....we're blessed to live here :)

  • 4
    More Info Please

    Posted by DreamStar1 on 29th Jun 2020

    Might just do a road trip for this in a few weeks but more info on each spot would be great such as where to park, stay etc