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Humpbacks Stay and Play in Hervey Bay

From late July until the end of October, there is no place like Hervey Bay on Australia’s east coast for breathtaking, up close and personal encounters with Majestic humpback whales.

Welcome to Hervey Bay. A haven for humpbacks, and a must-do bucket list item for any wildlife lover.

The world’s first Whale Heritage Site, Hervey Bay is scientifically recognized as a rare stopover site for migrating humpback whales, making it an eco-experience uniquely different from any other whale watching destination along the east coast of Australia (and the world).

Like thousands of tourists each year, Hervey Bay is where the whales choose to stop, stay and play during the cooler months of their annual winter migration. These intelligent and inquisitive creatures utilise the calm, subtropical waters of Platypus Bay to rest, relax and nurse their young, before heading back to their feeding grounds in Antarctica for summer.

Famous for our close encounters, Hervey Bay has gained international recognition as one of the best places in the world to get ‘mugged’ by whales. Bouncing back from the brink of extinction, Hervey Bay’s unique connection with humpback whales has blossomed over decades of eco-tourism in the area. Proudly known as Australia’s whale watching capital, we truly are the best place for an up-close and personal experience with these gentle giants.

The Journey

Thousands of Humpback whales pass by our coastline each year during their annual migration; from their feeding grounds in the Antarctic to their breeding and nursing grounds in tropical north Queensland.

It is here that pregnant females give birth to their 5-meter long (and 2-tonne!) calves. The gestation period for humpbacks is approximately 11-months and once born, calves accompany mum on the annual migration, nursing until at least their first birthday.

It is a constant journey, either north or south, depending on the time of the season. But there is one special place on Australia’s east coast where the whales stop to take a break – Hervey Bay. 

It’s here in our Whale Heritage Site, where the whales rest, and calves practise the incredible behaviours whale watchers yearn to see, from breaching, spy-hopping to tail slapping.

Learn More

The world’s first Whale Heritage Site

Hervey Bay’s reputation as Australia’s whale watching capital was made official in October 2019, when the region was dubbed the world’s first Whale Heritage Site by the World Cetacean Alliance.

This 6, 000 square-kilometer area, covers about 20 percent of the Great Sandy Marine Park, spanning from Rooneys Point, across to Burrum Heads, and as far south as Big Woody Island. The area is part of the wider Great Sandy Biosphere, awarded reserve status by UNESCO back in 2009.

Today’s Hervey Bay whale fleet operates in the renamed Great Sandy Marine Park under strict regulations, aimed at ensuring the thousands of whales that come into Hervey Bay each year are protected – and that they keep coming back in greater numbers.

Joined by a select few ecologically significant sites for cetaceans worldwide, including The Bluff in South Africa, and Dana Point in the USA, our heritage-listed waters puts us on the map as a gold standard destination for eco-tourism, paving the way for sustainable whale watching practises worldwide.


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