The world’s largest mass migration is about to start and Australia’s Central Coast is the prime spot to see it. Beginning in June, pods of whales will start to head up from Antarctica to spend three months feeding and breeding. Some whales such as the humpbacks can be easily viewed from the beach while others such as the orcas are best seen from a little further out.
The best place to begin a whale-viewing expedition is Avoca Beach. Though this spot is primarily known as a quiet vacation spot for surfers and beachcombers, it is also the beginning of the famous Pacific Coast Whale Watching Trail. This trail which runs from Avoca to Tweed Heads has seventy-one spots perfect for whale watching including sand dunes, lighthouses, scenic lookouts, and national parks.
After getting your bearings or meeting up with your party at Avoca Beach, head towards Norah Head Lighthouse on the northern end of the Central Coast. This lighthouse, the last manned one build in NSW, is the perfect spot for viewing whales frolicking in the surf. With binoculars, whole pods can be seen from the top of the lighthouse.
Munmorah State Conservation Area
Munmorah State Conservation Area is the next spot you’ll come to. Though there is no lighthouse, there is a viewing platform that allow awesome views of whales from the beach. Next go inland at Wyrrabalong National Park to walk through a red gum forest before heading to the Crackneck Lookout to look out over Shelly Beach and see more whales. The lookout is also a great place for a picnic.
Great Caves Beach Coastal Walk
Though a road runs the length of Caves Beach, you may want to park your car at the entrance and take the great Caves Beach Coastal Walk to see large caverns right on the ocean. This option is only available at low tide and during calm seas, but whale watching can be done from other sections if the caves are inaccessible. Wallarah National Park can be reached by foot from the trail. At Wallarah, you may see swamp wallabies and sea eagles along with dolphins and whales. Walk down to Pinny Beach, a place once known as the windswept heath of pincushion plane, to see more humpback whales.
If your expedition is on a Sunday, you should stop at Nobby’s Headland for a trip up their lighthouse and a walk along the Macquarie Pier. Nobby’s tends to be breezy and a bit of a hike from the carpark. And it’s only open on Sundays. Despite this, it’s many people’s favorite spot due to its isolated nature. If you have to skip it, try Shepherd’s Hill Lookout where you don’t even have to get out of your car to spot a whale. This makes it a good choice if the weather turns cold or rainy. Whales often get as close as 50 metres from the shoreline. Keep an eye out for Migaloo, an albino whale known to frequent these parts.
Whales are not the only things spotted at Merewether Beach. Four time world champion surfer Mark Richards began his career here at the tender age of five. He still comes by to surf or hang with his family on the beach. If you didn’t picnic earlier, you may want to grill out on this gorgeous and well-equipped beach. There are several companies offering whale cruises near the beach, in case you want to go out for a better chance at seeing an orca.
If you’ve brought hiking boots, you should go to Yacaaba Headland and take a vigorous hike to get a great view of Seal Rocks and Tomaree Headland. The walk will also take you to several spots known to be good for viewing whales. These vistas are well worth the hike.
Saltwater Point at Saltwater National Park is another great place to see whales. It’s also a beautiful place to explore a rare coastal rainforest. Look for signs telling about the Aboriginal seasonal camp which existed here for thousands of years before taking a quick swim from one of the two swimming beaches.
If you have hit all of these spots, you are probably ready to head back to Avoca for dinner and a good night’s sleep. Whale watching is an exhilarating experience and no where is it easier to do than the Central Australian Coast. It is very common for people to set out on a day or even half a day whale-watching excursion only to end up stretching the adventure out over several days. Many get such a rush from seeing the giant mammals surfacing and breaking the water that they become life-long devotees of whale conservation.
When you stay at Avoca Beach, whale watching is so easy to do. There are so many places and different situations near Avoca that it would be rare to not see a whale. Whether you take a boat, climb a lighthouse, or hike to a promontory, whales are never far away during migration season. The images they burn into your brain will stay there forever. The pictures taken of the giants in the surf will evoke memories of the sound and smell of the sea for years to come.