I'm a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia, who enjoys writing about the things I love: travel, nature-based activities, the arts, spirituality and creative, fun activities for children.
Published September 12th 2012
Meet the gentle giants of the open ocean
The largest creatures on the planet, whales have intrigued humans for thousands of years. Here in Western Australia we're fortunate to regularly sight these gentle giants every year, as they migrate up and down our coastline.
Image from Wikimedia Commons. By Michael Catanzariti (2005)
The following are a few of the best places to catch a glimpse of them:
From the coast overlooking King George Sound, whales can regularly be seen playing in the sheltered waters. While whaling flourished around Albany for over a century, these days the whale watching industry is just as successful, and many people enjoy whale watching cruises or watching these magnificent creatures from the shore, just metres from where they use to be slaughtered.
A popular destination for visitors is Whale World on the southern coast of King George Sound, which once housed Albany's last operating whaling station. Today it's a large museum which tells the story of whaling in Australia's southern oceans.
Great for aspiring whale watchers, the 'Ocean Giants Lookout Kit' which contains general information about whales and a map showing all the best spots, can be acquired from the Albany Visitors Centre.
Augusta Augusta, on the shores of secluded Flinders Bay is another spot for land-based whale watching. The bay is considered to be very unique as it's one of the few places where Humpback and Southern Right whales can be seen interacting together.
Image from Naturaliste Charters website
A few years ago on a visit there, I marvelled for hours at the antics of a group of whales in the harbour as they repeatedly breached, just metres from the shore. If you'd prefer a whale watching cruise, several companies operate out of Augusta, including Naturaliste Charters
Dunsborough At Dunsborough, just three hours south of Perth, you might be lucky enough to spot a whale while strolling or cycling along the coastal pathways. The crystal-clear waters of Geographe Bay have long been favoured by whales during their seasonal migration and they're often seen frolicking in its waters. Just a couple of weeks ago, I saw two humpback whales playing in the bay, about 100 metres off-shore.
Whales can frequently be spotted on Geographe Bay near Dunsborough
You can get more information about whale-watching in Dunsborough at the Dunsborough Visitors Centre on 08 9752 5800.
Perth and Rottnest Island While sharp-eyed observers can sometimes spot whales off Perth's beaches from September until November, you're more likely to see one 'up close and personal' by booking in for one of the whale watching cruises which departs from Fremantle. Oceanic Cruises is a reputable company which has been escorting visitors out to the 'Humpback Highway' for years.
Rottnest Island provides many whale watching opportunities and a good place to do it is from the island's West End. Many visitors enjoy an invigorating bike ride to get there, while others prefer the convenient Bayseeker bus.
World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef Marine Park is a pristine ocean reserve situated just north of the tropic of Capricorn. One of the largest fringing coral reefs in the world, it's home to an amazing number of exotic corals and tropical fish, as well as the unique and immense whale sharks.
Whales can be seen migrating north every April, while during August they make their return. Although they're often sighted from the coast, you can also see them by taking a cruise from either Exmouth or Coral Bay. For information about whale watching cruises in the area, go to the Exmouth Visitors Centre website.
The rugged Kimberley coast offers incredible views of whales during their annual sojourn in its warm tropical waters, where they give birth and suckle their young. However, the immense size of the area and its remoteness means that very few people get to see them unless they are extremely lucky or take one of the many cruises which depart from Broome, the Kimberley's whale watching capital.
For further information regarding cruises in the Kimberley, as well as tips about where the best land-based observation spots are, check out the Broome Visitors Centre website or give them a call on 08 9195 2200.
Being a regular visitor to Exmouth. I can almost guarantee you will see whales from the shore at this time of the year. My family often see whales as we are driving between Learmonth and Exmouth and a visit to the Lighthouse will provide a great panorama with whales a feature. It is a long drive, or there are regular flights, often with very reasonable fares. Many other amazing things to see there too!! Don