Whale watching in Australia

Now while whale watching in Australia can be a fantastic experience, the first thing you need to understand is that Australia is big. So if you look at a map of the country with all the whale watching places marked, you'll quickly see that [a] there are plenty of them and [b] they are spread far and wide. If the whales are high on your list of must-see things to do then plenty of planning is a really smart move.

I mean if you're only going to one state, say sunny Queensland, then you only need to look for whale watching sites in that state. But then the Queensland coast goes on forever and if you’re in Surfers Paradise and you want to watch the whales who are leaping skywards off Cairns then, depending on how you’re travelling, it could be a serious journey to travel north. If you’re new to backpacking Down Under, trust me, the country is big.

If you’re planning on visiting various states then your choice of whale watching sites is far greater but there are a couple of interesting points to remember.

• Whale watching is seasonal and
• You don’t have to go to sea

In Australia, June to November are the months to go whale watching. It’s all to do with the oceans’ royalty [the whales] doing their migration thing heading from the cold waters of Antarctica to the warmer waters around Australia and back again in order to raise their families. So the first important point is to know thy season.

Then as a backpacker you’ll be interested in money. There are cruises from many ports which take tourists out to where the whales can be seen. Some people report amazing experiences claiming they were so close they could almost touch the great mammals. Some people get sea sick and see a lot of rain. Most tourist companies will offer a 100% guarantee of seeing some whales during certain months - August to November - but do your own checking.

Some boats have underwater viewing rooms as well and as professionals, these cruise operators know everything there is to know about finding and showing you the wonderful creatures of the sea.

But cruises are not free and if you’d like to see some whales but have a limited budget, there are alternatives. For example there are whale watching areas on the beaches around Warrnambool and Portland in Victoria. Again there are times of the year when the whales are likely to appear and having some binoculars or a good zoom lens on your camera obviously helps. The major benefit of course is that you stay on dry land and can even drive into the car park adjacent to the whale watching deck. Depending on which beach you choose and the time of the year, you can even see the calves or baby whales as well.

Perhaps the best idea is to tie in your landlubber activities with local whale watching. If you’re enjoying the Gold Coast in Queensland then the whale tours in that area could be the go. The fact that many backpackers recommend this area helps too. But research and planning are your best tools. And at the risk of sounding corny, studying the options beforehand means you’re sure to have a whale of a time.

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