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Whale Watching From K'gari (Fraser Island)

Updated Tue 07 May 2024

Can you go whale watching from K'gari (Fraser Island)? Yes, although the best whale watching tours depart from Hervey Bay on the mainland. During the winter months, East Coast Australia is home to a huge number of migrating whales. It's one of the most beautiful phenomena! If you're an animal lover or you're interested in marine life, whale watching from K'gari (Fraser Island) and Hervey Bay should definitely be on your bucket list. Here are some useful things to know about whales on the Fraser Coast!

humpback whale breaching in the deep blue ocean of austraila

Whale Watching On The Fraser Coast Of Australia

The Fraser Coast is known as one of the best places in the world for whale watching. Few places in Australia are better for having up-close encounters with these giant mammals than Hervey Bay! Each year, whales migrate along the East Coast of Australia and spend plenty of time hanging out along the coastline.

Humpback whales, in particular, leave the Antarctic to make their way to the Great Barrier Reef, stopping on the Fraser Coast to rest before continuing their journey up towards the Whitsundays and Cairns. So the calm, protected waters of Hervey Bay and K'gari (Fraser Island) are a hotspot for humpbacks, making this area one of the best whale-watching destinations in Australia!

whale swimming near a catamaran in the Whitsundays

Can you go whale watching from K'gari (Fraser Island)?

You can spot whales from K'gari (Fraser Island) itself, though the best whale watching tours depart from Hervey Bay. K'gari is a very remote and rugged island, so you won't find a fleet of tour boats departing the island daily for whale watching tours. However, you can do some whale watching on your own from the island. Indian Head Lookout is a rocky headland on the island's northeast shore where whales are often spotted. But an actual whale watching boat tour is the best way to spot whales on the Fraser Coast, and these depart from Hervey Bay!

girl on a rocky headland with binoculars

Whale watching from Hervey Bay

The best way to see whales on the Fraser Coast is to join a whale watching tour from Hervey Bay, also known as the “Whale Watching Capital of the World”. Whales often stop here for several days to relax as they migrate along the East Coast of Australia. The ambitious whales love to spend time in the sheltered bays and warm water. For this reason, many specialised whale watching tours depart from Hervey Bay. 

Hervey Bay's whale watching boats are driven and guided by local experts. They have extensive knowledge of the area and the whales' habits, so you are almost guaranteed to see whales during your whale watch. The waters around K'gari (Fraser Island) and Hervey Bay are protected by the island's World Heritage listing, meaning the whales are safe from harm and harassment here. 

aerial view of a whale swimming near the ocean surface near K'gari

When Is Whale Season In Hervey Bay and K'gari (Fraser Island)?

Whale season in Hervey Bay and K'gari (Fraser Island) is from July to October every year. Most Hervey Bay whale watching tours commence in early or mid-July and run until October. These months are when whales journey along the East Coast of Australia in search of warmer waters!

Outside of these months, whales cruise around the frigid waters of Antarctica to feed in the nutrient-rich waters. When the weather turns colder as winter approaches, thousands of whales migrate north to the warm, calm waters of Australia's Tropical North.

Up here they mate, have babies, and raise their young. Hervey Bay and K'gari (Fraser Island) act as a pit stop during this long journey. Whales love to relax, swim, and play in the calm waters of southern Queensland, enjoying the protection offered by the K'gari (Fraser Island). 

Whale Season and Migration Patterns In Australia

The annual migration brings in a flood of Humpback and Minke whales, both of which migrate along the coast. Most tours are centered around Humpbacks, which are the larger and more interactive of the two species. About 7,000 Humpback Whales will visit the waters around K'gari (Fraser Island )during the winter, giving you a great chance to see these stunning animals for yourself! 

aerial view of mother and baby humpback whale in australia

Fun Facts about Humpback Whales

  • Every whale has a unique pattern that can be used to easily identify it. Photographers and scientists can often tell which whale is which by the pattern on their tail flukes.
  • Whaling is illegal in the waters around Australia and Australian citizens have been banned from whaling anywhere else in the world too!
  • Humpback whales don’t have teeth but instead have baleen plates which trap their food.
  • They don’t eat at all during their migration - they’ll wait until they are back in Antarctica to feed.
  • Humpback females are larger than males and can weigh up to 40 tonnes. 
  • Baby humpback whales can gain up to 45kg a day while they are nursing.
  • They have two blowholes, one for each lung!
  • Songs of humpback whales can be heard for many kilometres underwater.
  • Their pectoral fins can grow up to be almost 5 metres in length.
  • They can propel their bodies completely out of the water - all 40 tonnes of it!

Fun Facts about Minke Whales 

  • Minke whales are one of the smaller species of whale, growing from 6.5m - 7.5m in length.
  • They can weigh up to 10 tonnes and typically eat small fish and krill.
  • The maximum speed of a Minke whale is about 40 kilometres per hour.
  • They are found all over the world with two distinct subspecies, the North Atlantic Minke whale and the Antarctic or Southern Minke whale
  • Minkes can hold their breath for up to 25 minutes
  • Minke whales live 40 years on average 
  • The only natural predator of Minke whales is another type of whale - the orca

whale drifting through the calm ocean in australia

Whale Watching Tours From Hervey Bay

There are several tours departing from Hervey Bay that will give you a chance to witness these amazing creatures up close and in their natural environment. Choose between half day tours or full day tours, all of which have great ratings and experienced guides. You can look forward to seeing mothers and their babies, dueling males, breaching whales, and more from the safety of your boat. Bring along a camera and prepare to be amazed by the immensity and beauty of whales on the Fraser Coast!

K'gari (Fraser Island) coastline on a beautiful day

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