Having a whale of a time
If humpback whales are the king of the seas, then Hervey Bay is the queen of Australia’s whale watching experiences.
Blessed with not one, but two natural breakwaters from the rolling Pacific swell – the Great Barrier Reef and Fraser Island – Hervey Bay takes full advantage of its location and offers sheltered, shallow waters and what has to be the most comfortable whale watch cruising in Australia.
Our whales know it too! Between July and November every year, migrating Humpbacks stop off with their calves to jump, spy-hop and cruise in the crystal clear underworld. They’re more curious about us humans than we are of them, often spending hours swimming around the whale-watch fleet grabbing a peek of life in our world.
The four month whale watching season officially starts with Paddle Out For Whales, a colourful event that takes place off the main beach at Hervey Bay just outside Enzo’s on the Beach cafe.
Each year hundreds of nature lovers hit the water in any form of paddle craft – think kayak, SUP or outrigger – to bring awareness of the plight of whales around the planet and to create a superb day on the water.
Best yet, the action happens so close to Brisbane that you can jump in a car on a Friday afternoon, book a late table (my favourite restaurant in Queensland has to be Coast) and wake up bright and early for a day with whales on the water. Simple.
There’s also some cut-price deals around if you jump so make sure you check out the Queensland.com website.
Dwarf Minke Whales
At the other end of the Great Barrier Reef, 1400kms to the north, another incredible underwater spectacle takes place. From June through to July, Dwarf Minke Whales frollik in the tropical waters around the Ribbon Reefs in North Queensland, spending a few weeks before disappearing from sight. To date there is no record of where they go.
To witness this fascinating encounter, you need to travel further than a standard reef trip to the Ribbon Reefs, a corrugation of stunning reef systems that stretch more than 400 kilometres along the outer edge of the reef. This is where the eight metre minkes hang out. They’ve only been sighted here since the late 1990s but interact with snorkelers and divers in a very special way.
Mike Ball Dive Expeditions run custom built four- and seven-day liveaboard trips during the Minke whale season and the chance to hang from a line secured to the back of the vessel and socialise with these creatures.
But nothing is more awesome than an encounter with a whale.
If you’ve never witnessed a whale up close and personal then do yourself a favour and start planning your adventure fast. Whether hop on board a Hervey Bay boat or go on a serious dive trip deep into the Coral Sea, I guarantee you’ll have an adventure that will change your perspective of our world.
Now it’s time to read Jonah and the Whale or watch Whale Rider… whilst I’m in the mood for massive mammals!