Tourists and locals alike will soon have a better understanding and view of whale migration, thanks to $250,000 in funding from the Australian Government. The money is being used to develop 11 different whale watching sites across Australia’s coast.
The development includes both the building of platforms to allow safer and better views for whale watching and signage to educate and enrich the curious. Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt said in a recent media release, “Australians love marine wildlife and there is a genuine demand for land-based vantage points along the coastline to view these magnificent migrating whales.” The goal of the National Whale Trail is to enhance and promote understanding among the community about the importance of protecting whales and dolphins.
Prominent locations that will soon be receiving all new whale watching facilities include Byron Bay and the Sunshine Coast, but the scope of the trail is far larger than a few popular areas, stretching from Queensland to Tasmania.
While the new platforms and signs haven’t been erected yet, it won’t be long before they begin springing up all along Australia’s eastern coastline. What better way to experience the majesty of these magnificent creatures than to grab your friends or family, jump in a motorhome rental and journey along the coast on a great Australian whale watching holiday? To help you start planning for the trip, we’ve put together a few Whale Trail highlights that you really shouldn’t miss.
Just an hour and a half north of Brisbane on the Sunshine Coast lies the sunny town of Coolum Beach. Popular with Sunshine Coast tourists and Brisbane day trippers alike, this little town will be getting signs and a small viewing platform for those looking to catch the winter migration of the humpback whale. Winter isn’t peak season for Coolum Beach, but it’s still probably worth booking accommodation ahead of time as the ecotourism crowd will soon catch on Coolum once the Whale Trail becomes more well known.
Half a day’s journey down the coast from Coolum Beach lies Byron Bay - famous for hosting several popular music festivals including Australia’s biggest winter music fest Splendour in the Grass, this beach town also has great surf and offers skydive opportunities for thrillseekers. NSW National Parks and Wildlife service is partnering with the Council to produce engaging and accessible signs for whale watchers and those keen to learn about the coastal ecosystem.
It’s a two and a half hour journey alongside rivers and through state forests from Byron Bay to Woolgoolga - you’ll be losing sight of the sea for a while, but the beauty of the inland vistas will more than make up for it. While many stops on the Whale Trail are just getting some signs and/or a viewing platform, there’s a spectacular walkway planned for Woolgoolga, linking the headland to the beach. This will provide multiple viewing opportunities for keen whale watchers, and the chance for visitors to stroll along the coastline admiring the natural beauty of the town’s surroundings.
You won’t want make a trip directly from Woolgoolga to Apollo Bay, as even a cursory glance as a map might tell you. But savouring the sights, sounds and tastes of two of Australia’s finest cosmopolitan cities, Sydney and Melbourne, is a pretty fantastic compensation for taking a break in your whale watching schedule. When you’re finally ready to leave Melbourne, Apollo Bay awaits, two and a half hours to the southwest. A large observation deck is planned for construction, which will allow tourists to look out over the harbour, observing both migrating whales and the workings of the port.
This is only a small selection of the many stops along the National Whale Trail - but we wouldn’t want to spoil all the fun of discovery! If you have a great whale watching story or know of some spots that we didn’t mention, let us know in the comments!