Sign up for whale spotting tours, or to join the indigenous saltwater people celebrate this annual migration through ceremonies, festivals and more. The peak periods are July and September.
1. Port Macquarie
Home to the second most easterly point in NSW, Port Macquarie ensures close-up encounters just metres off the coast, and tours that take less travel time out to open ocean to find the whales. The 9km coastal walk from Town Beach to Lighthouse Beach hugs the coastline and offers stunning vantage points and a number of seats at different headlands along the way for whale watching encounters. For those looking for an adrenaline-filled experience, Port Jet’s Wave Rider can reach speeds of up to 100km/h, making it one of the fastest commercial boats offering whale watching cruises.
Ballina Head Lookout on the North Coast, located between Shelly and Lighthouse beaches, offers panoramic views over the sparkling blue water out to the Pacific Ocean. Enjoy whale spotting from this headland, or stroll down onto the beach and watch the whales go by as you swim or as you enjoy a meal at the cafe above the surf club at Lighthouse Beach. Another great spot in Ballina is the Black Head viewing platform, which is easily accessible on a short walk through a rainforest.
3. Iluka and Wolli
Iluka Bluff is a dedicated whale-watching platform that offers 360-degree views along the coast. Local tour operator Wooli Deep Sea Tours runs whale watching tours that includes cruising in the beautiful Solitary Island Marine Park, home to a rich abundance of sea life, including dolphins and turtles.
4. Port Stephens
For land-based whale spotting, set out with your binoculars to locations like Tomaree Headland, Barry Park at Fingal Bay, Fishermans Bay, Birubi Point and Stockton Beach. A favourite spot for whale sightings is the Boat Harbour headland, off Noamunga Street. Look for a ‘V’-shaped puff of spray as the whale surfaces. Humpbacks are the most surface active of all the whales, so you might even see tail slaps, pectoral fin waves, body rolls and the mighty breach.
Book a tour with NOVA Cruises departing from Newcastle Harbour, which is only a short trip out into open water to find the whales. For land-based whale spotting in Newcastle, try Shepherds Hill Lookout, a popular spot with the locals.
6. Lake Macquarie
With spectacular ocean views for most of the way, Caves Beach Walk is just the spot for whale watching. This picturesque coastal bushwalk traverses the cliff tops south from Caves Beach to secluded Pinny Beach in the Wallarah National Park. Also not to be missed are the views from Redhead Bluff, a red rocky headland that offers views that stretch across the ocean and south over Nine Mile Beach towards Blacksmiths and Swansea – a prime cetacean spotting location.