Existing Member?

Big Trip Blog Bigtripblog is a multimedia travel experience capturing the adventures of Kevin and Valerie during their one year trip around the world.

Chasing Whales Around Byron Bay

AUSTRALIA | Thursday, 21 June 2007 | Views [4132] | Comments [2]

The bay from the lighthouse

The bay from the lighthouse

Kevin: We weren't sure whether or not we'd actually make it to Byron Bay a couple of days ago. Our "plan" has turned out to be incredibly flexible, making it uncertain where we'll be at any given time. That kind of freedom is great, but it creates constant decisions, some of them split-second. It was one of those "Do we turn off the Pacific Highway or not?" decisions that led us to Byron Bay, instead of continuing up to Brisbane and Queensland in search of warmer weather. The reason? Whales, of course.

Apparently the geography of Byron Bay makes it one of the better places on the East coast to see whales. Cape Byron is actually the Eastern-most point of the Australian mainland, guaranteeing that the coast-hugging whales, on their northern and southern migrations, will swing by the Bay for some fresh organic plankton. It's wintertime here in the southern hemisphere, which means the whales, like us backpackers, are heading north for warmer weather.

Every morning dozens of people hoof it up to the lighthouse to catch a glimpse of the humpbacks on their long journey up the coast. We were dutifully up there on our first morning in town, minutes after pulling in at our caravan site and badly in need of a shower, lugging all of our documentation gear with us. Unfortunately we only caught a glimpse of a breaching whale off in the distance. It was just a large splash that wouldn't have shown up in a picture, but it was definitely a whale. We did, however, see several pods of dolphins cruising around. This only whetted our appetites for whale sightings, causing us to head into town and splash out (haha..) on a whale watching excursion.

This morning we woke up bright and early, grabbed some coffee, all of our gear, as well as our dry bags and some extra zip-loc bags, and got ready to hopefully get up close and personal with some of the biggest mammals on the planet. Only it wasn't meant to be; the wind made the seas too choppy to have any kind of fun out on the water. We'll have to try our luck again at the edge of Cape Byron in the morning, before we continue our northern migration in search of warmer waters.

In the meantime, that means we just have more time to soak up the natural beauty and atmosphere around Byron Bay. It has a laid-back vibe that attracts lots of surfers, backpackers, and those whose main pursuit is idleness. Yet it is also swanky and upscale, with chic restaurants and drinking holes aplenty. It kind of reminds us of some seaside communities in Northern California, like Santa Barbara. So whales or no whales, not a bad place for a last-minute detour.

Update: During trip two to the lighthouse we saw three or four whales splashing around a bit! Unfortunately we couldn't get any pictures of breaches or anything dramatic, and they were pretty far down there, but it was great just to have spotted them. There's a photo in our gallery, if you're interested in seeing a small whale butt.

Tags: ambassador van, beaches & sunshine




Well Kevin,

You have just missed the whales at Port Macquarie. There
were about 6 at the lighthouse to-day. So they will
take a little while to get to you. At Port you can also
catch the seaplane out to see the whales as well as
the whale watching tour.

The whale you have to keep an eye out for is the WHITE

I see on your map that you have plotted Guyra and at
the moment they have been having sleet and light snow
falls that is whay it has been so cold.

Enjoy your trip. You can follow the whales up the coast.
When you get to Broadbeach in Queensland the Kirrawa
Surf Life Saving Club you can sit on the verandah and
see the whales coming past heading north.

When the whales return they sometimes come in closer.
Hope you get another chance to go on the tour.
Bye for now.

  Alice Beaven Jun 21, 2007 10:36 PM



Thanks for the whale watching tips. We're keen on seeing some here in Queensland, and we hope the timing works out.
We heard about the white humpback. That would be so great to see! You guys are so lucky to be able to see whales every year on the east coast. Take care!

  BigTripBlog Jun 26, 2007 3:01 PM

Add your comments

(If you have a travel question, get your Answers here)

In order to avoid spam on these blogs, please enter the code you see in the image. Comments identified as spam will be deleted.



Travel Answers about Australia

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.