I love whales. Who wouldn’t? But every time I get on a whale watching boat (and I’ve tried this theory several times), I spend more time in the bathroom throwing up breakfast than out on the decks, and usually end up missing the wildlife display.
If you’re like me, and the thought of stomaching another wavy whale watching trip turns you green, do not despair!There are plenty of options to get a dose of these gorgeous mammals close to Brisbane– without stepping foot on a little whale watching vessel! Here are the best options for spotting whales from June to October every year near Brisbane without getting on a boat!
Byron Bay Lighthouse
Time from Brisbane: 2 hours
Head up to the Cape Byron Lighthouse and you’ll be likely to see dozens of whales from June – October every year. There is a little shop so you can grab a coffee or ice cream and hang out for an hour or two just watching the displays! We recommend taking some binoculars so you can see the whales up close.
If you’ve got a couple of days head out to Broken Head nature area, a gorgeous rocky outcrop where you can spot the passing whales. To get the best view take the Three Sisters walking track, a meandering nature walk which pops out overlooking Kings Beach where you can spot the playful whales.
Moreton Island – Cape Moreton & Eastern Beaches
Time from Brisbane: 20 minutes’ drive, 75-minute ferry
Though technically not ‘boat free’ as you have to catch a ferry to get to the island, the size of the ferry makes it a pleasurable and non-rocky trip that would not bother most people; much unlike the rocky nature of a small whale watching vessel.
Cape Moreton Lighthouse is the premium whale watching location, but whales can often be spotted along the Eastern Beach and even in the bay at times (one of our guides has been lucky enough to see a whale between the Tangalooma Wrecks and the beach!). You can either take your own 4WD and travel to the Cape yourself, or you can join a Moreton Island Eco Tour around the island.
Indian Head Fraser Island
Time from Brisbane: 4 hours’ drive, 10-minute ferry
The spectacular nature of Indian Head combined with the fact that it’s located on an amazing World Heritage Listed all-sand island makes this one of the best land-based whale watching options out there. Because of the distance from Brisbane, you’re probably going to want to make this a 2 – 3 day trip but it will definitely be worth spending the extra time. If you don’t have your own 4WD you can hire one (we recommend Fleet Crew) or join a 2 or 3 dayFraser Island tour which hits the main destinations on the island.
Q1 Gold Coast
Time from Brisbane: 1 hour
There are a multitude of land-based whale watching points on the Gold Coast. You can try many of the points like Point Danger Lookout Coolangatta or Burleigh Heads, but one of the more spectacular experiences is to head up the Q1 tower to the Sky Point Observation Deck which rises an amazing 230 meters into the sky! You can take in 360-degree views that extend from the surf to the hinterland and enjoy a bite to eat from their café. Worth bringing your own binoculars in case the shared ones are all in use.
Time from Brisbane: 1-2 hours
The Sunshine Coast has an array of great land-based whale watching areas perfect for watching whales from the comfort of solid ground. Try Point Perry at Coolum, Point Cartwright Lighthouse or Moffat Beach Headland; all gorgeous spots great for spending the morning keeping an eye out for spouts.
A special mention must go to Noosa National Park Dolphin Point, as the track is assisted wheelchair and pram accessible and a great walk to do. Make sure you take binoculars as whales can often be a bit further out; the bonus is you can pop back down the street for a coffee and an ice cream afterwards!
So as you can see, there are a number of available options for avoiding the ‘whale watching chunder’ experience! So if you’re looking for somewhere to go whale watching near Brisbane, why not try one of these!
If you don’t have your own vehicle and want to join a guided tour of Moreton Island or Fraser Island, please check out www.sunsetsafaris.com.au for available tours.