Our winter is a whale’s summer as these gentle giants make their way from the cold Antarctic waters to the Southern Ocean to breed, birth and raise their calves. Warrnambool, Cope Otway and Portland are the only places is the world where you can watch whales nursing their babies just 100m from the shore.
Get ready for a show as Southern Right, Humpback, Blue and the occasional Orca Whales breach, chin slap, flipper and spyhop. And if you’re lucky you might see some young calves playfully splashing around too.
The best time for whale watching in Warrnambool is between June and September. It’s when the female Southern Right Whales head to the sheltered shores of Lady Bay to give birth to their young, it’s a naturally protected playground for their calves.
Bring your binoculars to the custom-built viewing platforms at Logan Beach and get a front row seat as these majestic animals put on a spectacular show – tail slapping, frolicking and waving as they lounge around in what they find to be warm waters! Whales can come in as close as 100m to shore and they stay here for several weeks, helping their babies build strength for the long journey back to sub-Antarctic waters.
Keep an eye out of the Great Ocean Road Whales Facebook Page or pop in to see the friendly team at the Visitor Information Centre for notifications on sightings.
Located just 3hrs 30mins from Melbourne, Cape Otway sits right on the southern tip of Victoria’s Western Coast, where the Southern Ocean collides with Bass Straight. It’s home to Australia’s oldest working lighthouse (1848) –
the perfect vantage point for whale watching between May and October.
Annually, 25 species of whales migrate past the Lightstation – including Southern Right Whales, Humpback Whales, Blue Whales and Killer Whales (Orcas). Many breed and socialise here before heading off to feed in sub-Antarctic waters. Southern Right Whales give birth to young in sheltered bays along the south-west coast of Victoria.
Cape Otway Lighthouse opens daily from 10am-4.30pm. Climb the 78 stairs to reach the 21m high balcony and take in the 360 degree views, 91metres above sea level. There couldn’t be a better vantage point to admire the vastness of this ocean and the stunning diversity of marine mammals including whales, dolphins and seals. And if they are being a little shy when you visit you can celebrate them year-round at the Lightstation’s Whale Interpretive Area.
There is no other place on the Great Ocean Road where you can get this close to a whale. When you arrive at the Portland Maritime Discovery Centre you will walk straight into the rib cage of a 14m Sperm Whale skeleton.
Gracing the museum’s main hallway, it’s awe-inspiring scale makes you feel tiny in comparison. The teeth are the size of your palm, the hair-like plates that whales use to filter food from water look like brooms and the ribs are taller than most humans. Here you’ll learn about Portland’s whaling history, explore the lost treasures from the shipwreck trail and hear stories of Portland’s rich maritime past.
Grab a coffee and a bite at the cafe then pop into the Portland Visitor Centre (located in the same building) to find out if there have been any more whale sightings in the area — they will fly a yellow flag if there’s been a recent sighting.
It’s a Great Call to have a whale of a time on the Great Ocean Road.
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Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Great Ocean Road region the Wadawurrung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging. We recognise and respect their unique cultural heritage and the connection to their traditional lands. We commit to building genuine and lasting partnerships that recognise, embrace and support the spirit of reconciliation, working towards self-determination, equity of outcomes and an equal voice for Australia’s first people.