“Thar she blows!” – Our Guide to Whale Watching
There are many great things about living on the coast – ocean views, quiet beaches, a laid-back lifestyle and for a short while, twice a year, the thrill of whale watching.
In June and July, and again from September to November, it’s possible to view the gentle giants of the sea migrating past the Central Coast.
According to the local Darkinjung people, the Central Coast is ‘whale dreaming country’ and at the peak of migration, when thousands of Humpback and Southern Right whales are migrating along the coastal highway, there is a good chance of seeing them.
While just about anywhere with a view of the sea will do, here’s a few key vantage points, where, with a good pair of binoculars, you could spot a whale.
NORAH HEAD offers visitors a stunning panoramic view of the eastern coastline, making it an ideal location to watch the whales travel past.
The 19th-century lighthouse at Norah Head is considered such a great place to watch the whales migrate that once a year it becomes the backdrop for the Whale Dreamers Festival – a chance to celebrate and share information about these extraordinary mammals.
While the usual 10,000-strong gathering at Norah Head Lighthouse can’t go ahead this year because of COVID restrictions, organisers are taking the festival online for the first time and doing a Live Stream on Sunday July 5 from 1030am til midday.
Tune in at www.facebook.com/WhaledreamersPage/ and have a whale of a time with guest speakers, live music, a special Welcome to Country, video, artworks and of course – whales.
If you can’t catch it live, the mini online festival will be repeated later in the day.
TERRIGAL SKILLION is another major whale watching location, with a large viewing platform at the tip of the headland. This is one of our favourites, with spectacular views of North Avoca and Avoca beaches to the south and Wamberal and Forresters Beach to the north.
The Skillion is also easily accessible, with a concrete pathway and steps scaling the grassy slope. Bench seats along the way are great for a breather.
Copacabana’s CAPTAIN COOK LOOKOUT has two vantage points that are ideal for whale watching.
The first offers expansive northern views and the second, slightly higher up and larger, faces east and south.
It’s a bit of a trek up a hill to find the platforms and there is only a little space for parking but it’s definitely one of the best spots on the Coast with unhindered ocean views stretching on for miles.
We’ve spotted many a water spout from this perch, especially during the annual 5 Lands Walk which takes walkers along the Coast from MacMasters Beach to Terrigal during the peak of whale watching season.
This year’s event was cancelled due to COVID but hopefully it will be back in 2021.
Anywhere along BOUDDI NATIONAL PARK’s coastal walk is prime whale watching territory but from Gerrin Point there are great views of Maitland Bay and beyond. The lookout is an easy walk from the eastern end of Putty Beach, about 1.2km along the boardwalk and up the stairs.
A bench built into the lookout offers a nice place to rest until that special moment when a playful Humpback breaches or a mother and calf send synchronised spouts into the air.
It’s best to wear joggers or hiking shoes when you visit Bouddi, as the ground is uneven in areas.
CRACKNECK LOOKOUT is another viewing gem that’s not only popular with surfers searching for good swell.
Here, you can make a morning of whale watching by throwing a picnic rug down on the grass and watching the gentle giants pass while sipping on a coffee.
There are picnic tables and chairs too and you can drive all the way up to the lookout so it’s easily accessible.
When you’re not staring straight at the horizon for sprays from whales, cast your eyes north. On a clear day, you’ll get beautiful photos of the coastline from Shelly Beach, past The Entrance and to Norah Head.
To really get up close and personal with the gentle giants of the sea, it’s best to hit the water.
TERRIGAL OCEAN TOURS run hour-long whale watching boat tours out of Terrigal complete with a marine biologist.
The tours offer a great chance to see whales breaching and tail slapping as they frolick and play during their journey along the coast.
Coastal Chic tip: Don’t forget to take binoculars or a long lens camera if you want to capture the moment. Share any sightings on social media with us @coastalchic_au