ICYMI, whale season down here runs from May to October. Which means, uh yep, you need to get in and spot these beauties fast, before they swim off for another year. There’s a couple of types of whales you might see hanging around Victoria. One of these is the humpback—barnacled giants with a big white stripe on their bellies, a tiny dorsal fin and long flippers. Southern Right Whales are the whale that Keisha Castle-Hughes rides at the end of the Whale Rider (if you’re familiar). If not, they’re basically smaller than humpbacks, move slower, and have white chunks of calluses on their head.
If you’re super lucky, you might see an orca on your whale-watching trip. Orca’s are the same whale from Blackfish or Free Willy. Both worth a watch for different reasons.
Feel like you've got the whale watching thing nailed? Good, let's figure out where to spot them.
Phillip Island is basically a goldmine for Aussie wildlife—you’ve got kangas, wallabies, seals, penguins and whales, too. You’ll get the most success if you head out on the water and join a whale tour, but there’s still plenty to see on your own two feet. A few spots with good vantage points over the southern coast are Pyramid Rock, Cape Woolamai and the Summerlands area. Bring binoculars.
The Prom, aka one of our absolute bangers of a National Park, is a great place to get your whale watching on. Hitch yourself on a boat tour, like this Wildlife Coast Cruise—appaz spotting humpbacks is touted as a 90% chance. We like those odds. As well as whales, you’ll get to see dolphins, albatrosses, seals and aaaaaalll that scenery you don’t get in the city. Check out our camping guide for some accom info.
Warrnambool in general is pretty popular with visiting whales, but if you’re serious about seeing some dorsal fins, then Logan’s Beach is the best place to get a look. There’s a huge viewing platform that stretches across the beach and it's roomy and long enough that you won’t feel like sardines trapped in a can. Visit this one before the end of September for prime-time viewing, check out some Southern Rights Whales, and possible baby whales too.
If you visit Portland Bay, and a whale flag is flying above the visitor information centre, chances are good you're going to see some whales. Portland Bay, Cape Bridgewater and Cape Nelson are all great places to spot whales during the season—mostly Southern Rights on their voyage to mate and calve. But if you visit during summer, you might also be in with a chance to see the Blue Whale a.k.a the world's biggest animal. Kind of the perfect thing to tick off your bucket list.
Great Ocean Road
Yeah ok, this one’s a pretty *broad* location but, really, travelling town-to-town along the Great Ocean Road is going to give you one of the highest chances of spotting whales in Victoria (between May – October, anyway). Lorne and Torquay are known to get their fair share. For high-up lookouts, Anglesea (above the main beach) and on the cliff at Split Point Lighthouse in Aireys Inlet. They'll give you the best chance of viewing whales form afar. Check this page on the regs for recent sightings and tips.
So, Apollo Bay technically fits in with travelling along the Great Ocean Road, but this one’s a biggie so we thought we’d mention it specifically. This paradise-y beachy town gets more then its fair share of the big-flippered friendly faces, especially Southern Rights who flock to the warmer waters. Check out the FB page Apollo Bay Whale Watch for updates on where and when to spot the big beauties.
You don't need fancy hotels to spot whales. In fact, coastal campgrounds might give you a better chance. Here's our pick of the best in Victoria.
Image credit: Guille Pozzi