Merimbula & Sapphire Coast Whale Watching
The waters of the NSW Sapphire Coast come alive in late Winter when conditions create a spectacular feeding ground for whales. Winter time is when huge numbers of whales – primarily humpbacks and lone southern right whales – stop and congregate off the coast to feed their young before the last stage of their journey south to Antarctica.
The combination of a warm East Australia Current and nutrient-rich Arctic flow creates an explosion of krill and pilchards that sustains life above and below the waves, year after year. Chances are you may encounter a spectacular humpback or rare blue whale, minke, southern right or even orca.
Take a cruise with Cat Balou or Merimbula Marina and you can be on the migration path within minutes of leaving port. Most guides offer guaranteed encounters between September and early November. The area thrives with other sea life as well: look for common and bottlenose dolphins, seals, penguins, sunfish and turtles.
The town of Eden has a rich fishing and whaling history. Learn about this heritage and the hunting partnership between local indigenous groups and killer whales along the Killer Whale Trail. The trail includes Eden Lookout, Davidson Whaling Station, Boyds Tower and the Killer Whale Museum, home to the skeleton of famous local killer whale, Old Tom.
Watch for whales alongside experts from the Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre at Eden Lookout, one of the State’s best vantage points, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in September and October. Each November, the Eden Whale Festival celebrates the season with street parades, music, food, wine, storytelling and more.
The clifftop views from Tathra and Tura Beach headlands are dramatic. You can also drive to Short Point Beach in Merimbula, and make yourself comfortable in one of the wooden deck chairs that look out over a gentle sweep of sea, sand and sky. If the whales don’t show, the beach also has good surf in the Winter months.
Combine a hike through the unspoiled wilderness of one of the area’s rugged national parks with whale watching from cliffs and headlands. Bournda National Park is a pretty playground filled with secluded beaches and scenic coastal walks. The challenging Kangarutha Walking Track in the park is dotted with lookouts.
Choose a spot along the 45km of coastline in the Ben Boyd National Park or follow the three-day Light to Light walk through the park from Green Cape Lighthouse to Boyds Tower for more fantastic vantage points. The Wajurda Point track in the Mimosa Rocks National Park leads to a lookout with one of the best views in the region.
For more information on whale watching around NSW, visit wildaboutwhales.com.au