Whale, whale, whale, it may be winter, but now is the perfect time to go to the beach. Why? Because it’s whale watching season in Victoria! Journey along the state’s southern coastline between May and early October, and keep an eye out for humpback whales, southern right whales, blue whales and orcas as they migrate to Australia’s warmer waters to give birth and raise their calves. And luckily for us, there’s plenty of spectacular spots for you to go whale watching around Victoria. Just remember, even though you’re going to the beach, it’ll still be quite cold and windy! So rug up, bring some binoculars and have fun.
1. Phillip Island
Phillip Island may be famous for their penguins, but there’s plenty of whale sightings to go around too! Visit this popular island between May and October for the best chance of a whale sighting. Try and spot them from the comforts of dry land, or head out to the water for a closer look. Keep an eye out for humpback whales, southern right whales and orcas as they migrate from Antarctica, journey along the Victorian coastline and up towards Queensland for calving.
Stay on land and see if you can spot any whales at Cape Woolamai, Surf Beach, Pyramid Rock, The Nobbies or the Summerlands area with a pair of binoculars. Sometimes, southern right whales are also visible in the shallow waters off Cowes or San Remo Jetty.
If you feel like stretching your legs, journey along the Bass Coast Discovery Trail, and keep your eyes peeled for whales, while enjoying magnificent views. Signs dotted along the trail will tell you more about the whales, their behaviour and the environment.
For a watery adventure, hop on a Winter Whale Cruise by Wildlife Coast Cruises. Circumnavigate Phillip Island and look out for whales, while listening to historic commentary and wildlife interpretation. On your journey, you’ll also look at fur seals, and you might encounter dolphins too!
Meanwhile, if you’re after spectacular views, take to the skies with the help of Phillip Island Helicopters, and look out for the unmistakable silhouette of a migrating whale.
2. Wilsons Promontory
Travel east into Gippsland and go whale watching at Wilsons Promontory. Wildlife Coast Cruises do whale cruises to help you spot migrating humpback and southern right whales. While you search for these majestic creatures, admire the picturesque scenery of Wilsons Prom, including rugged cliffs and rocky islands. Then, look out for other marine wildlife like albatrosses, seals and dolphins. The Wilsons Prom Whale Cruise lasts for six hours, and includes morning tea and lunch.
Almost every year, between June and September, female southern right whales travel to Logans Beach in Warrnambool to give birth and raise their young. These whales often swim within a hundred metres off the shore. To go whale watching, head to beach or visit a specially constructed platform in the sand dunes. The viewing platform is free, close to a carpark, and there’s a ramp available for accessibility. Between morning and midday, the whales often breach the water to sun themselves, so you can watch them splash and frolic in the water.
Warrnambool also marks the start of the ‘whale corridor’ on the Great Ocean Road’s Winter Whale Trail. This corridor stretches from Warrnambool to Portland. Find out more about the trail here.
4. Port Fairy
Nestled between Warrnambool and Portland, you’ll find Port Fairy, one of the key destinations on the Winter Whale Trail. After exploring this delightful coastal town, head to East Beach for whale watching. Take a stroll on the fine, white sand along the 5.8km beach, and keep an eye out for whales.
Go on a walking trail, and stroll along to Griffiths Island. This island is the site of breeding colonies of short tailed shearwaters, and also supports an abundance of native wildlife, including swamp wallabies. The island is also home to a lighthouse which was built in 1859, and is still operational today. Griffiths Island was named after John Griffiths, who set up a whaling station on the island in the 1830s. By the early 1840s, so many whales were killed that the station had to close. Whaling was outlawed in 1935, and since then, their numbers have been growing. As you amble around the island, look out for whales in the water.
Portland is the last spot on the Winter Whale Trail. You’ll find humpback whales, southern right whales and even orcas travelling through the waters around Portland Bay and Cape Bridgewater Bay.
Portland has a whale viewing platform on Wade Street. This platform is free, and there’s even public binoculars available. From this high vantage point, you can enjoy spectacular views, and look out further beyond the harbour.
Portland Harbour also has a number of vantage points, allowing you to see any whales that might enter the harbour waters. Whales are more likely to appear near the outer edge of the harbour, around Lee Breakwater. If you’re lucky enough to be there when this happens, you can see whales as close as 30 metres away.
You’re also likely to see whales around Cape Bridgewater Bay and the Cape Nelson Lighthouse.
6. Apollo Bay and the Otway Coast
Every year, from May to October, the coastline along the Otways hosts 25 different species of migrating whales, including southern right whales, humpback whales, blue whales and orcas.
For an excellent vantage point, visit Cape Otway Lightstation and spot the migrating whales. While you’re there, check out some works of art celebrating these incredible creatures, including a geoglyph whale sculpture made from limestone and sandstone, as well as a baby whale carved from a cypress tree.
As Apollo Bay is along the Great Ocean Road, you’ll also find some lookout points scattered around the area, providing great spots to look out across the water.