Whale Watching at Hervey Bay
Our QLD blogger Andrew had a whale of a time at Hervey Bay.
There are many places one can see Mother Nature’s creatures in the wild, but none put on a show quite like whale watching at Hervey Bay. Curious by nature, the humpbacks that migrate south down the coast of Queensland each year from July to November are well aware of their surroundings and the best way to witness these majestic wonders of the ocean is onboard a whale watching boat tour.
We began our whale watching adventure on a Tasman Venture catamaran and set course for the humpbacks’ hang out. It’s a beautiful sail along the coast of Fraser Island – the world’s largest sand island spanning a distance equal to the Gold Coast to the Sunshine Coast. We even spotted a dingo on the beach, drinking from a freshwater stream.
At first I thought this was going to be a day of whale waiting rather than watching, as an hour and a half had passed and still not a marine mammal in sight. I convinced myself to remain patient – everyone knows what it’s like when you’re working with kids and animals! The anticipation of expecting something to launch out of the calm, blue waters is suspenseful yet frustrating. Will this be the one time there are no whales?
After taking up multiple positions on the many decks of the cruise boat, my patience paid off when a pod of active humpbacks was located nearby and we floated over to check them out. What came next was nothing short of exhilarating, as the gentle waves of the protected bay were broken with an almighty breach of an adult male humpback.
The whales had seen us and were keen to get a closer look, swimming over to the boat, within two metres of the vessel. Having heard stories from people who had been whale watching before, I was in awe of the performance these creatures were giving us, never imagined we’d be able to get so close to these amazing beasts! The stand out feature of the whales in Hervey Bay is that they rest, play and engage with their watchers unlike anywhere else in the world.
We spent the afternoon at the Hervey Bay Whale Festival – a celebration to mark the opening of the whale season. It was a wonderful community event with stalls, rides, showbags and loads of activities such as candle making, tie dying, knot tying and painting – perfect for families with little ones. Once the sun had set, the Esplanade was lined with people on either side for the Lantern Parade. Then it was off to Enzo’s on the Beach for canapes and wine whilst watching the fireworks.
We enjoyed a truly scrumptious dinner at the newly opened restaurant, Coast. Serving a traditional English-style home cooked menu with seaside influences and fresh ideas, our host Julia guided us on what to order so we didn’t end up ordering everything on the menu – it all looked so good!
We shared the bourbon-glazed beef ribs – the meat just falling off the bone and melting in the mouth. The atmosphere is gorgeous, service exemplary and food divine. My favourite was the grilled prawns topped with cannellini beans, pancetta and watercress. A must if you go to Hervey Bay!
We woke up bright and early at our resting place for the weekend, Alexander Lakeside B&B . Nestled in a quiet suburban location, a short walk from the beach and nearby cafes and shops, we were warmly greeted by owner Sharon Lagan who prepared a lovely breakfast and introduced us to the local turtles and birdlife that reside in the freshwater lake at the rear of the property. The room was comfortable and inviting, self contained and peaceful – the perfect relaxation spot for a weekend packed full of action.
Besides the whale watching, another great reason to visit Hervey Bay, is the warm shallow waters of the sheltered bay that are ideal for water sports. Strapping on our life jackets, we hired a kayak from Aquavue Café Watersports and paddled out toward the horizon. We were fortunate enough to see a pod of dolphins feeding off the reef and an interested dugong that kept its distance but popped up every few minutes to see what we were up to. After our arms had their workout, we relaxed on a sailboat as Rod skippered the cat out on the crystal clear bay. It was such a peaceful ride and the perfect way to end our weekend.
We would love to return again later in the season to see the larger whales and mothers with calves pass through and perhaps experience some of Fraser Island and dive or snorkel off the secluded Lady Elliot Island.
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