Whale watching is big animals and big business. Australia-wide the industry generates upwards of $29 million a year in direct economic benefits and has grown by 15 per cent every year in the first five years of the century. Whale research foundation Oceania Project has a comprehensive list of Australia whale-watch options on its website www.oceania.org.au

new south wales | queensland | south australia | victoria | western australia

New South Wales
Sapphire Coast
Catch the spring humpback migration (late September to late November) via whale watch cruises from Eden, Narooma, Merimbula and Bermagui, Eden’s Killer Whale Museum (02 6496 2094) displays the skeleton of Old Tom, a local orca that used to help the whalers by herding whales into Twofold Bay.
www.sapphirecoast.com.auPort Stephens
Apart from the passing humpback trade (May to November), Port Stephens is blessed by pods of resident bottlenose dolphins that enjoy leaping alongside the five whale-watch boats.
www.portstephensnsw.com.auJervis Bay
Humpbacks often take a mid migration breather here and sometimes approach the boats.

Byron Bay
Humpbacks can pass within a few hundred metres of Cape Byron and are easily spotted from shore. FOr a closer view and a chance to hear whale song via hydrophone, whale watch boats (12 passengers maximum) depart Cape Byron daily, June to November.

Moreton Bay
The new MV Eye Spy, cruising from Redcliffe, features six viewing decks and “whale=friendly” (low emission, low noise) engines. Daily five-hour cruises during humpback season, June to November.
www.whalewatching.netHervey Bay
Australia’s unquestioned whale-watching capital and prime humpback nursery. Humpbacks holiday here from July to November; the latter months are optimal for mothers and calves. About 20 whale-watching vessels operate from Urangan Boat Harbour. Dawn trips are particularly rewarding, when whales tend to be even more numerous and playful.
South Australia
Victor Harbor
Southern right whales, June to October. Visit the SA Whale Centre (2 Railway Terrace) for whale watching in Encounter Bay. www.sawhalecenter.comHead of Bight
A third of Australia’s southern rights are born in the Bight. Mothers with calves are often seen very close to shore from viewing platforms on the Bunda Cliffs. Whales visit May to October.
Southern right whales – the other major whale species in Australian waters – appear off the Victorian coast from May to September. Warrnambool’s Logan Beach has platforms to viewing this dark, bulky species with its distinctive v-shaped double spout.
Western Australia
King George Sound
Albany Whale World at Cheynes Beach, once our last whaling station, is now a museum with whale skeletons (including the final victim, in 1978) and the restored chaser vessel Cheynes IV. Go out on the water July-October and shoot whales with cameras rather than harpoons. The Ocean Giants lookout kit (from Albany Visitor Centre) reveals the best land observation spots.
www.whaleworld.orgLeeuwin Peninsula
Whales arrive in Flinders Bay from June. Humpbacks hang out with southern rights and can bring calved as early as July. Geographe Bay is aa humpback stopover from September to early December, wen they take their fatted calves to the Antarctic. Rare blue whales sometimes surface in Geographe Bay, October to November. Naturalist Charters at Augusta (Flinders Bay) and Dunsborough (Geographe Bay).
www.whales-australia.comCoral Coast
Shark Bay (Monkey Mia), North West Cape (Exmouth) and the Kalbarri-Geraldton area offer whale watching from June to October, when humpbacks travel to and from their tropical endpoint at Camden Sound in the Kimberley region.