Where to go whale watching near Melbourne

Grab your binoculars and hit these coastal locations for a whale of a time
Whale swimming in the ocean
Photograph: Time Out
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Is there anything more majestic than watching a whale breach or seeing a huge tail disappear beneath the waves? Whales are fascinating creatures that are made all the more intriguing by the effort involved in observing them. Nothing really compares to seeing a whale in the wild, and in Australia we’re lucky to have around 60 per cent of the global whale population living in our waters.

For Victorians, the prime whale watching season is roughly from May to October each year. While whales can be seen all along the state’s coast, you can improve your chances of getting a slice of the cetacean spectacular by visiting these locations.

Whale swimming in the ocean
Photograph: Time Out

Phillip Island

After visiting Phillip Island’s famous fairy penguins, stick around and see if you can spot a whale. From Phillip Island it’s possible to see humpback and southern right whales – updates on where whales have recently been spotted can be found by checking out the Phillip Island Whale Sightings map or by following the Two Bays Whale Project Facebook page. Top whale spotting sites on the island include Cape Woolamai, Pyramid Rock, Surf Beach and the Nobbies and Summerlands areas.

Book a tour: Wildlife Coast Cruises runs whale watching tours, during which you’ll also see Phillip Island’s seals, albatrosses and dolphins.

Whale swimming in the ocean
Photograph: Time Out

The Great Ocean Road

If you’ve ever driven along the Great Ocean Road you’ll realise why it’s a great spot for whale watching. The entire 243-kilometre stretch of road features lots of vantage points to stop and spot whales, with the most spectacular roadside lookouts found between Lorne and Apollo Bay. Make sure to stop in designated stopping areas as the road is narrow and has many blind corners. It’s also possible to see whales from Apollo Bay beach, where they come as close as 100 metres to the shore. You can stay apprised of recent whale sighting on the Great Ocean Road by visiting the road’s official tourism website.

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Whale swimming in the ocean
Photograph: Time Out

Warrnambool

Whales can be spotted right along the Great Ocean Road, but drive just a little further and you’ll reach one of Victoria’s best whale watching locations: Warrnambool. The seaside town that gave us Dave Hughes, Paul Jennings and Tom Ballard is also home to a nursery for southern right whales. Head to Logan’s Beach between June and September to catch a glimpse of whale calves and their mothers from the specially constructed platforms on the sand dunes. It’s not uncommon to spot the whales only a 100 metres from the shore.

Book a tour: Southern Coast Charters offers whale watching tours from out of nearby Port Fairy

Whale swimming in the ocean
Photograph: Time Out

Portland

Keep going west from Warrnambool and you’ll reach Portland – a town of only 10,000 people plus whales. From May to October you’ll be able to see southern right whales as they migrate and calve, but visit in summer for something special: blue whales. During November to May Portland is occasionally visited by the largest animal to ever live: the mighty blue whale. Some of the best whale spotting locations include the lookout on Wade Street, and vantage points at Portland Harbour and Bridgewater Bay.


Book a tour: South West Charters runs whale watching tours by appointment.

Take a trip out of the city

Great Otway National Park
Photograph: Robert Blackburn
Travel, Short getaways

The best day trips from Melbourne

If you're looking for a break from the inner-city grid, there's no better cure than a day trip from Melbourne. The state of Victoria is full of friendly neighbourhood towns, whether you're in the mood for a winery tour, a road trip or a national park to explore. These one-day escapes are just what the doctor ordered, so get out there and explore Melbourne's beautiful backyard.  

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