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Whale watching for free

Whale watching for free

The high season for whale watching in NSW is in full swing.

Boats, planes and helicopters operated by whale watching tour operators are a common sight along the east coast.

But if you have your binoculars ready and want to explore at your own pace, it's possible to spot some beautiful whales from land for free.

Why are whales on the move?

Huge populations of whales move through the oceans every year to feed or breed on certain migratory routes.

Off the east coast of Australia, whales migrate north in June and July to give birth and mate in the warmer waters - then they head back south in October and November.

What can you see?

It's possible to see Humpback, Southern Right, Sperm, Killer, False Killer and Pilot whales and the odd dolphin off the coast.

Whales can be observed exhibiting certains behaviours such as; breaching, lobtailing or tail slapping, spyhopping, mugging as well as feeding.

A popular app called Wild About Whales has information for whale enthusiasts and ORRCA - a marine mammal rescue and research organisation - that allows whale watchers to log their sightings, so they can measure numbers on the annual whale migration.

So if you want to get into some whale watching here are eight great land based spots in NSW.

1. Green Cape Lighthouse, Ben Boyd National Park

In southern NSW near Eden, the Green Cape Lookout in Ben Boyd National Park is a favourite for whale watching.

Once known for whaling, Eden is now a centre for sustainable whale watching.

It's stunning, rocky coastline and local wildlife makes it a nature lover's outdoor adventure, with the chance to spot dolphins, seals, sea eagles and gannets too.

2. Tathra Beach, Sapphire Coast 

Another favourite in the south of NSW is Tathra Beach, where whale sighting happen pretty much daily during the season.

This area is also one of the few places where you can see whales eating, from the shore.

3. Snapper Point Lookout, Murramarang National Park

Housed within the Murramarang National Park, near Batemans Bay, the Snapper Point Lookout offers magnificent views across the Murramarang natural skyline, including the imposing Gulagas mountain. 

Whale spotting remains a common occurrence in the migrating season along the long coastline. The lookout is easy to access after a short 400m walk.

4. Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay

While whale watching cruises from nearby Huskisson are common, Hyams Beach is known for mama whales and calves sightings.

Hyams beach has additional boasting rights of being one of the whitest beaches in the world.

5. Cape Solander, Kamay Botany Bay National Park

Cape Solander lookout in Southern Sydney has so far had over 3000 whales sightings this season, according to the Wild About Whales Facebook page.

The lookout has a viewing platform.

While you're in the area check out the Kurnell visitors centre for a download of Captain Cook's landing in the area.

6. Tomaree Head, Tomaree National Park

Northwest of Newcastle at Mount Tomaree, you can catch some of the best sightings of whales and other marine life from the high vantage point of the Tomaree Head.

Mostly in October, whales can be seen as they swim down south for feeding.

This is a wonderful spot to catch beautiful views of the nearby Port Stephens.  

7. Crackneck Lookout, Wyrrabalong National Park

Many sightings have been reported from this location in the heart of the Central Coast.

At Bateau Bay, the lookout is stunning, with landscape views across to The Entrance.

Park rangers hold talks during peak migration season between middle of May to June for local knowledge.

7. Smoky Cape Lighthouse, Hat Head National Park

A great spot for picnicking, Smoky Cape near Kempsey also offers whale watching opportunities.

The beautiful octagonal lighthouse is gorgeous for photography and nearby attractions such as Captain Cook’s lookout and Hat Head National Park are also worth taking the time to explore.

Get your dose of vitamin sea

Whale watching takes a bit of patience and usually a bit of a walk into national park.

So make sure you have water, snacks, picnic maps, comfortable clothes and footwear as well as your fully charged smartphone for whale watching logs, camera and your important insurance apps.

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