WA is home to several species of whales – including one of the largest populations of humpback whales in the world – and they can be spotted from countless viewpoints along the coast. History buffs, meanwhile, can visit the heritage-listed Whale World in Albany, formerly a whaling station.
WHERE TO GO
NorthWest | From June to November you can take a whale-watching tour of Camden Sound Marine Park, where the Kimberley’s humpback whales nurse their calves. Around Broome you’ll likely spot them between July and October. If heading out onto the water, remember to give the animals their space (at least 100m is recommended). It’s about 6km from Broome to Gantheaume Point, from which you can take a cruise, or alternatively, hit the beach with binoculars. Truth is, if you’re travelling along the Kimberley coastline, there are a lot of places you can stop and stay that allow for land-based whale-watching opportunities at the right time of year. Eco Beach Resort Broome, Goombaragin Eco Retreat, Middle Lagoon, Whalesong Cafe and Campground, Mercedes Cove Exclusive Coastal Retreat, and Kooljaman at Cape Leveque are worth looking into.
Coral Coast | Blue, humpback and even killer whales can be spotted at Ningaloo Marine Park. The whales visit twice a year – when heading north during autumn, and on their return in spring. The northern trip is generally more off-shore, so you’re better off booking a boat cruise for a sighting, while the spring journey’s closer to shore. Whale watching in Kalbarri is popular – grab a pair of binoculars and watch from the shore (try to find somewhere high), or book a boat tour for a closer look. In Kalbarri National Park there’s Natural Bridge, Eagle Gorge and Red Bluff, which are accessible with sealed roads. Closer to town is Chinaman’s Point. (Note there are tours that will drive you to the best whale-watching spots on land.) Around mid-August, humpbacks and their calves come in to Exmouth Gulf, close to shore, making Exmouth a prime location, especially since the whales don’t start
to head off until early November. From Town Beach, Sunrise Beach and Bundegi Beach, you can see them quite close to shore. If you’re visiting Vlamingh Head Lighthouse, the top of the hill is a great place to look out for whales. Point Quobba, north of Carnarvon, is a popular whale-watching spot. A whale-watching boat charter through Shark Bay Marine Park is also worth booking.
Perth & Surrounds | If you’re heading out to Rottnest Island, consider a water-based whale- watching tour, running from September through to November. (The Perth Canyon off Rottnest is a pygmy blue whale feeding area.)
There are also tours that that head out from Hillarys Boat Harbour and Fremantle.
Golden Outback | From July to October, whales pass through the Recherche Archipelago. Take a whale-watching tour that heads out from Esperance (humpbacks and southern rights are sighted). For land-based sightings, hit the coast – there are several places to stop on the Great Ocean Drive, like Blue Haven Lookout and Rotary Lookout. The lookout at Dolphin Cove in Cape Arid National Park is another spot; drive, or walk via the Tagon Coastal Trail. Locals recommend a drive out of Esperance to Thomas River to spot whales. The beaches of Hopetoun are also great during whale-watching season. Try Four Mile Beach in Fitzgerald National Park or the picnic site near the Four Mile Campground.
A spyhopping whale (photography Legend Charters).
SouthWest | There’s a whale nursery 65km east of Bremer Bay, so the coastal town has plenty of land-based viewing options. Head into Fitzgerald National Park where there are purpose-built whale-watching platforms at Point Ann (you can camp nearby at St Marys Inlet). In the Albany region, humpback whales travel in a line that locals call the Humpback Highway, from the edge of King George Sound to Bald Head, with first sightings usually in June – pick up the Ocean Giants Lookout Kit available from Tourism WA. Albany was previously home to the Cheynes Beach Whaling Station, the site of which is now Whale World. Aside from information about whales, it offers a fascinating and educational look back into the (now defunct) Australian whaling industry. If you’re visiting Denmark and Walpole from July to October, take South Coast Highway, then Conspicuous Beach Road and head for Conspicuous Cliff. There are two lookouts, one less high and so slightly less of a climb. Around June, Flinders Bay in Augusta is often the first location where whales stop to feed as they travel from Antarctica. In July and August, a whale-watching hotspot in the Margaret River region is Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. For a few months from September, Geographe Bay is a stop for humpback whales and their babies, and the endangered blue has also been sighted here.