Whales have lured people to the regional port of Eden for centuries - the Yuin people used whales for food and oil and the first European whaler arrived in the 1820s. Today, the whales travel the 'humpback highway' around Eden between September and November taking a break to rest, feed and play on their way to Antarctica. This provides the perfect opportunity to see whales up close and Eden celebrates them with a weekend-long festival each November.
The festival has a massive program of events from Friday to Sunday. Entertainment including kite flying, magicians, circus performers, fireworks (9pm Saturday) and even chainsaw sculpting will run across the weekend. There are two stages with a packed line up of music and dance with the headliners set to keep the sunset stage pumping and plenty of kids activities in the grounds of Eden High School.
Saturday is the big day so if you can only stay for one day, you'll get the best bang for your buck then. Saturday's highlights include a colourful street parade with floats, trucks and local groups winds through town creating a real festival atmosphere at 10am. Entertainment will run through the day and peak with a fireworks display at 9pm.
If you're feeling competitive, you can sign up to take part in some unique and hotly contested competitions. These include an Oyster Shucking contest, the mackerel toss and the capstans pull which (get ready for this) re-enacts the task of hauling whale blubber through the try-works - definitely something you don't get to do everyday.
For the foodies, Alex Stollznow from the Sydney Fish Markets will be hosting a seafood showcase to teach the tricks of serving delicious seafood. The festival will also feature a food alley featuring both local produce and flavours from around the globe.
If whale watching is on your to-do list - and let's face it, it should be if you're at a festival celebrating whales - there are onshore and offshore options. Onshore, head to one of Eden's lookouts for a bird's eye view or find your sea legs and jump aboard one of the charter cruises which run throughout the festival to come face to face with a majestic whale.
Like many small-town festivals, the Eden Whale Festival is a celebration of something unique to the host town and a great excuse to venture out and experience regional Australia at is best. Whether you want a weekend away or a longer stay, here's your excuse to hit the road for Eden. Get going, the whale's are waiting to say hi!