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Published January 28th 2013
Get up close and personal with nature's gentle giants
Hervey Bay, located 3 ½ hours north of Brisbane, is billed as the whale watching capital of the world. It is considered one of the best spots to observe humpback whales, and their calves, as they migrate along the east coast of Australia.
The best time to experience whale watching in Hervey Bay is from August to the end of October. While whales can be seen during July, this is often referred to as whale "spotting" season and your chances of seeing a whale or pod of whales is lower.
Whales use Hervey Bay as a resting ground during their migration. This makes Hervey Bay unique in that the whales are not just in transit, they are here to rest, play and teach their young how to navigate the more treacherous waters of their journey.
The relative protection of Hervey Bay also makes it an ideal spot to see the whales. Rather than the sometimes rough open water, you are in the protected waters of the bay between the Australian mainland and world heritage listed Fraser Island.
There are a variety of tour operators and you are certain to find one that suits your schedule and budget. All vessels depart from the Urangan Boat Harbour and many tours offer a shuttle service from your accommodation. Most vessels comfortably accommodate children and, as we unfortunately discovered, the staff quickly spring into action should anyone suffer from motion sickness.
Some vessels offer an underwater viewing area which can give you an up close interaction with the whales. Tour operators are required to stop 300 metres from the whales- but the whales are allowed to move about as they please. They are quite curious and will often come close to the boat which allows for a truly awesome experience.
While whale sightings are not guaranteed, the tour operators at Hervey Bay are very experienced and use a range of spotting techniques to ensure you have the best possible chance of seeing whales. You may get to see a more playful pod with some whales breaching and tail slapping. Or you may just get to see these gentle giants gracefully cruising through the water.
Whale watching season is extremely popular and it is advised that you book your accommodation and tours well in advance to avoid disappointment.