The Great Southern is famous for its incredible wines, rugged and beautiful landscapes, epic coastline and towering karri forest. Another natural phenomenon that draws visitors to the region is the annual whale migration. More than 35,000 humpbacks, southern right (and sometimes blue) whales swim through the Southern Ocean between June and November as they migrate to northern WA.
There are heaps of vantage points around the Great Southern, as well as boat trips that will take you out onto the water to see these gentle giants up close. Here are some of the best places to see the whales this winter in the Great Southern.
Western Australia’s oldest town is well known as a whale watching destination, with many bays and sheltered areas for whales to rest and play. King George Sound is a natural harbour creating a resting area for the southern migration of the humpback whale and the calving grounds of the southern right whale. You can take one of the many whale watching tours to see the whales up close.
If you’re spotting whales from the shore, the Ellen Cove Boardwalk is close to town, or head out to Torndirrup National Park, where there are heaps of vantage points including the Blowholes and The Gap, which are spectacular lookouts for spotting whales.
Albany used to be a whaling town but now thrives as a whale watching destination. If you’re interested in the historical side of the industry, head to the Albany Historic Whaling Station at Discovery Bay where you can explore an intact whale processing factory and a fully restored whale chasing ship.
Rotary Lookout is an elevated platform within Albany Heritage Park, which gives uninterrupted, panoramic views of the beautiful King George Sound and is a popular spot for viewing whales in the water below.
Located 15 kilometres from Albany, Sandpatch is considered one of the best locations along the South West coast to see humpback and southern right whales on their annual journey through the Southern Ocean. Pause at some of the lookouts to spot whales and enjoy panoramic views of the ocean and bushland.
After a day of whale watching in Albany, as you head back to town, be sure to pop in at one of the beautiful wineries en-route and book a table for dinner somewhere special so you can recount those amazing whale sightings.
Ocean Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Denmark, and it’s a great place to spot whales out in the ocean. Wilson Head offers plenty of lookouts and viewing platforms to view the seasonal passing parade of whales, including Lions Lookout, which also provides stunning views of the Nullaki Cliffs.
If you fancy a hike, pack a picnic and bottle of Great Southern wine and make the 30-minute walk to the top of Monkey Rock to spot the whales and enjoy an epic sunset. Make sure you swing by nearby Monkey Rock Winery on your way to this lookout. This family run boutique winery specialises in sulphite-free wine, liqueurs and ciders.
To create a really special itinerary, why not combine the Scotsdale Tourist Drive with some of the whale watching spots? Head to Wilson Head in the morning, then hit the trail to sample some of Denmark’s amazing cool climate wine, then finish the afternoon with a stroll along Ocean Beach for a final opportunity to view the whales.
Conspicuous Cliffs near Walpole is an amazing place to spot whales and breathe in those amazing southern coast views. There is an unspoilt beach, limestone cliffs and granite headlands to enjoy too.
Bremer Bay is a tiny coastal community about 180kms further around the coast than Albany. It’s rugged, beautiful and the only place in Australia you can be guaranteed to meet the orcas! Bremer is home to the largest known congregation of orca in the southern hemisphere, and from January to April you can take a tour to see them out in the ocean.
In winter Bremer is also home to migrating whales, so try heading up to Tooleburrup Hill to spot them from the coast.