Whale Watching in Port Macquarie
Port Macquarie is ideal for whale watching, with spectacular vantage points on the mid NSW North Coast about four hours’ drive north of Sydney and six hours south of Brisbane. You can get up close to the majestic giants of the ocean on special boat tours, such as with Port Jet Cruises Adventures.
Tens of thousands of whales migrate along the NSW coast between May and November. In late autumn humpback whales swim north to breeding grounds and return south in spring to feed in the Antarctic over summer. You might spot mothers with new born calves on the southern migration.
The commonest encounters are humpback whales, the stars of the whale-watching season because they leap out of the water – called breaching - and roll in the air. You’ll have the opportunity to marvel at the awesome sight of humpbacks breaching in the blue waters off Greater Port Macquarie.
Along the coastline are excellent land-based locations for spotting whales, from a heritage-listed lighthouse and beach headlands to lookouts in the Kattang Nature Reserve and the Crowdy Bay National Park, near Laurieton and North Haven. Top whale-watching vantage points include:
- Tacking Point Lighthouse, built in 1879
- Port Macquarie coastal walk – various locations
- Grants Head, at the northern end of Grants Beach
- Perpendicular Point and Charles Hamey lookout in Kattang
- Diamond Head and Mermaid lookout in Crowdy Bay
Keep an eye out too for the rarer southern right whales, which have two blow holes that exhale a distinctive V-shaped plume up to five metres. The southern right is known for swimming into shallow bays. Adult southern rights are 14 to 18 metres long, a similar length to humpback whales.
You might see southern rights and humpbacks spy-hopping, when they lift their heads out of the water and hold in a vertical position for a moment as they look around. Tail slapping is an awesome spectacle, too. A whale lifts its fluke – tail – out of the water and then slaps it against the water.
There are 45 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises – all members of the Cetacea order – in Australian waters. You’ll see bottlenose dolphins frolicking in the Hastings River estuary and chasing fish in the waters just off the sandy beaches that stretch along the Greater Port Macquarie coast.