Throughout my time in Australia I wanted to go on a Whale Watching tour. I even got as far as booking on with a company called Tamsan Adventures in Hervey Bay, but as these things go, the one day of high winds I witnessed our entire 3 week trip, was the day of our boat trip, so it was cancelled.
I was pretty gutted, but it did mean I booked a Fraser Island day trip, something which I was previously not planning on doing, and boy am I glad I didn’t miss out on Fraser.
So anyway our trip continued, and we reached Byron bay, a highly anticipated destination for me. The guy at our hostel pointed to the lighthouse, whilst giving us a mini tour of the bay, and explained if you walked up there you get to the most easternly point of mailand australia. What he didn’t tell us, was that its actually one of the best places for whale watching in the area!
How to get there:
From the Main Street in Byron bay, facing the direction of the lighthouse, with the beach/sea on your left, follow the path and then continue straight along the costal path. You walk for around 30 mins in a straight line, until you reach a fork in the road, where you can go uphill towards a no entry sign for cars or continue straight. Walk uphill, towards the right, past this no entry sign. The sign is directions for cars driving up to the lighthouse, as a one way system is in operation to help with traffic. You continue uphill at a steady incline for 10 minutes or so until you will walk past 2 car parks on you left hand side and then the lighthouse will come into view, further to the left. On the right hand side of the road, you get the first spectacular view of costal Byron – don’t miss this photo opportunity!
Continue further up the hill towards the lighthouse – you cant miss it, its massive and white and the tallest point in the area!
Once you reach the lighthouse you then walk down towards the most easternly point, and can continue further down back to the level of the coast if you choose.
But this is the spot, with the Pacific Ocean truly giving that flat earth impression at this vantage point, look for massive splashes in the water, vertical columns of water vapour and black shadows, because if you are here in whale watching season (July-October), then there will be humpbacks swimming in this bay!
We watched them for around 2 hours, I saw countless males splashing around, backflipping trying to impress the females. And closer to shore could see the calves and their mothers playfully showing you their fins. It was absolutely spectacular, didn’t cost a penny, and there was no worry of whether the tour operator was ethical or would be chasing the whales – one concerning thing I heard from a lady, was that on her recent tour, the operator ‘hounded’ a calf and its poor mother to try and get the visitors a closer look. There is no way I would have wanted to have been on that boat. Of course, most tour operators are highly professional, whale lovers who wouldn’t dream of doing this, but it does happen.
The whales are humpback whales, migrating to the warm waters of Queensland from Antarctica to calve, before returning to Antarctica later in the season. Around 20,000 whales are expected to migrate each year, so it is unsurprising that on my 3 week August trip, I saw whales as far north as Airlie beach and the whitsundays, and whilst touring Fraser Island, as well as here at Byron Bay.
If you are heading to Byron Bay soon, or planning a trip there, definitely add this FREE activity to your itinerary – you wont be dissapointed! (Just make sure its Whale season!)