Animal lovers rejoice – it’s whale watching season again in Australia’s South West. In other parts of the world whale watching with kids can be a tedious experience with very little reward – you could go several hours and only see a spurt of water in the far distance – but in Western Australia whale spotting with kids is a life-changing event. Here you can get right up close to the massive sea mammals – all without even needing to get wet.
It’s not often that humans get a chance to have a personal interaction with the magnificent mammals of the deep, but every year this is exactly the experience that countless families have just off the coast near Albany, Augusta and Dunsborough in Western Australia. In this part of the world southern right and humpback whales meet annually as they migrate up the coast of Australia for a more temperate clime to breed and this is one of the rare and special experiences where you – and your kids – can really see nature in all it’s glory.
Even more magnificent is the rare chance to see interactions between the southern right whales and the humpback whales as they try to escape the cooler weather for warmer waters. The humpbacks are known for their water gymnastics so you may get the chance to see the gentle giants flipping, diving and frolicking in play.
Southern right whales can often be spotted very close to shore which means kids get an opportunity to stand right alongside the massive 17.5 metre long beasts – an endangered species with only approximately 3,000 left in existence. Even more magnificent is the rare chance to see interactions between the southern right whales and the humpback whales as they try to escape the cooler weather for warmer waters. The humpbacks are known for their water gymnastics so you may get the chance to see the gentle giants flipping, diving and frolicking in play.
For those who are extremely lucky, there is sometimes a rare opportunity to also spot blue whales from May to June and November to December around Albany and Dunsborough respectively.
There are only two places in Australia with a right whale nursery. Between June and November every year lucky visitors to Fitzgerald River National Park have 6 months to witness calving season from any of the coastal viewpoints or otherwise right up close on an organised tour.
Check out the official Australia’s South West website for some cool insider tips for some of the best vantage points for whale watching with kids in the area.
For a family adventure holiday activity that’s as easy as bringing a camera and maybe some binoculars, whale watching in Western Australia will definitively make a splash.
Whales are wild animals, so they don’t appear on a set schedule. However in general at least one species of the mammals can be seen in Augusta between June and September, Albany between June and October and Dunsborough between September to December.
Naturalise Charters (Tel: +61 8 9750 5500) has hosted whale spotting tours in the South West of Western Australia for over 20 years. Today they run tours and chartered vessels out of Dunsborough and Augusta and they boast a 99% success rate of sighting not only southern right and humpback whales but also dolphins, seals and birds. They are the proud owners of (among other vehicles) a specially designed whale watching catamaran called Cetacean Explorer. The 17-metre luxury boat is suitable for all ages and even has wheelchair and small stroller access (including into the bathroom). The skipper provides an energetic and educational interpretive tour which you can enjoy over morning or afternoon tea making it an ideal option for those traveling with kids.
Albany Whale Tours & Sail-A-Way Catamaran Charter (Tel: +61 8 9845 1068) specialises in tailoring their tours to suit individual travellers. Each passenger is asked their preference on timings and route before boarding and, for those that really enjoy it, guests are invited to return for a second time for an additional free experience. There are two boats available including the powerful Wave Rider – a boat that skims along the water at high speed and will have the kids screaming for joy.