The first time I went whale watching in Australia was in July 2010. We got the ferry out to Stradbroke Island, which is off the coast of Brisbane. From there we stared out at the sea from the beaches and sometimes from the cliffs, for about five hours.
All we saw was, well, the sea…
Undeterred, we decided that the only way to see whales in all their magnificence would be by way of a whale watching trip on a boat. So in August 2011 we drove an hour and a bit south to the Gold Coast and then set off from Mariners Cove on said boat, in search of whales.
This was much more successful, by comparison at least, inasmuch as we did see one whale. Can you see it too?
Of course you can, because that photo is pretty much on full zoom. From the distance we were at, as I said at the time, it could just as easily have been a bald HGV tyre bobbing around in the ocean.
In January 2013 we went to Hervey Bay for a short break and that’s when we discovered that this particular Queensland seaside town was THE place to go for whale watching.
Well, as one shopkeeper we spoke to put it, “You can see whales swimming almost anywhere up and down the coast, but mostly that’s all you’ll see, whales swimming. Here the whales stop for a rest in the bay, they have a play, the adults teach their young how to swim and they splash around and have fun.”
January though isn’t the right time for whale watching, so we vowed to return to Hervey Bay at some point to give it go, and that’s what we did during the school holidays at the end of last month.
Let’s have a look to see how that turned out for us.
Whale watching in Hervey Bay
The boat, The Spirit of Hervey Bay for those who would like to know, set off at around 1:30 PM and it wasn’t long before we were spotting whales, and almost every sighting was better than the HGV tyre lookalike mentioned earlier.
Let’s get stuck into some pictures. Worth mentioning here that, like an idiot, I forgot to take my proper camera so all of these photos were taken with my mid budget smart phone.
Yes, I am zooming in on these photos, but these whales were coming in very close. I’ve left my daughter Elizabeth’s head in this one so you can see just how close these two whales came to the boat…
Then this whale started waving at Mrs Bob…
And these too hung around our boat for quite a while, just swimming really…
Just to give you an idea of how much whale activity we saw, I took around 200 photographs during this four hour trip, and when I got home I deleted all the pictures that didn’t have a whale in them. Or if it did, it didn’t look like an old tyre.
I still had 142 good photographs left. So, it’s safe to say, we had a great whale watching trip this time round.
At around 3:45 PM, we were enjoying a bit of a display by a young calf, this one…
…And I’m pretty sure we would have stayed with him until around 4 o’clock, when we would have returned to shore.
But things were about to get much better. Much much better.
In the distance, at about five minutes before 4, we could all see a great deal of splashing around and showing off from this big boy…
As our boat got closer and closer, the display or, from the whale’s point of view, the showing off, just got better and better…
This whale was putting on such a display that we all got more photographs than we could ever possibly want. After a while the cameras stopped clicking and we all continued to watch in absolute awe as this fully grown adult continued breaching, lobtailing, tail slapping, spy-hopping and blowing to his heart’s content.
Well, I took one more photo just to show how close we were to this magnificent mammal. My apologies to the complete stranger whose head you can just about see in the bottom right-hand corner of this picture…
As this beauty continued, trick after trick after trick, time was moving on and eventually we had to leave him to it. If we could have talked to him, we would have said “Anyway, I’ll let you get on. See you later!”
At 4:17 PM, the boat began its journey back to shore.
To say it was an awesome day is an understatement; it was the whale watching experience of a lifetime. We all had an amazing time, Mrs Bob in particular, I don’t mind telling you, got quite emotional.
Hervey Bay truly is THE place to go whale watching.