Guides

The Best Places To Spot Whales In New South Wales, No Tour Necessary

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Yes, whale season is almost upon us. From May to November, thousands of whales make their way along the New South Wales coast on their migration from Antarctica to the South Pacific and back again.

While there are plenty of fab tours that’ll take you out on the water, getting up close and personal (or, at least, as close and personal as is safe for the whales), there’s something particularly special about going on a regular coastal walk and spotting a fin or spout in the water.

Luckily, there are plenty of places to do so along the ‘Humpback Highway’.

Sydney

#1 Barrenjoey Headland, Palm Beach

Nestled inside Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, trek up to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse on the most northerly part of the Palm Beach peninsula, and a common place to spot humpback whales.

#2 North Head, Manly

With epic views across Sydney Harbour National Park and towards South Head, this is one of the best spots for whale watching in Sydney. Take a stroll along Fairfax walking track.

#3 South Head Heritage Trail, Watsons Bay

Beautiful at any time of year, this trail is especially worth doing during whale season. The Gap is a particularly good place to park and watch if you don’t want to do the whole trail.

#4 Cape Solander, Kamay Botany Bay National Park

The sticking sandstone formations and wide ocean vistas of Cape Solander are always a good idea, but they also provide one of the best places to wait for whales.

North Coast

#1 Cape Byron, Byron Bay

 

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The country’s most easterly point is a renowned land-based vantage point for spotting whales. It’s impossible to miss the famous lighthouse from Byron Bay, which makes it a good place for spotting.

#2 Ballina Head/ Black Head lookouts, Ballina

Just a half-hour drive south of Byron Bay you’ll find the quieter Ballina and plenty of places to enjoy the views and spot a few whales. The lookouts at Ballina Head and Black Head are two of the best.

#3 Coastal Walk, Port Macquarie

This nine-kilometre (one way) trail is dotted with lookouts perfect for whale spotting. Start the walk from Town Green foreshore in Port Macquarie, following the coast through Rocky Beach lookout, Nobby’s Beach and Harry’s lookout overlooking Shelly Beach and more.

#4 Tomaree Head/ Stockton Beach, Port Stephens

Just a two-and-a-half hour’s drive from Sydney is Port Stephens and a bunch of perfect lookouts for whale watching that won’t even involve a hike — like Tomaree Head, Stockton Beach and Shepherds Hill.

South Coast

#1 Jervis Bay

It goes without saying that Jervis Bay should absolutely be on your whale list. It’s halfway along the whales’ 4000km migration route, and whales often stop here to rest and play with newborn calves.

#2 Eden, Sapphire Coast

Eden was (sadly) a whaling centre for centuries before it pivoted into a whale-watching hub, so the history runs deep. There are plenty of shoreline vantage points around Twofold Bay and along the coast in Ben Boyd National Park.


(Lead image: provided / Jordan Robins via Tourism NSW)