Tag Archives: annual humpback migration

Where to See the Annual Humpback Migration on East Coast Australia

australian humpback whale migration map

It’s that exciting time of year when humpback whales migrate up and down the Queensland coastline from the Antarctic to mate and give birth in warmer waters. The arrival of the whales is celebrated throughout East Coast Australia and we reckon it’s the greatest show on earth! Why not head down to the coast and join in the celebration? Read on to find out when and where to see the annual humpback migration on East Coast Australia and to learn a whole lot more about it…

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The Best Time to see the Humpback Whale Migration on the East Coast

whale watchingThe exact timing varies depending on the temperature of the water, among other factors, but generally the best time to see humpback whales on the East Coast is between May and November each year.

The whales firstly migrate north up the East Coast, then can be seen migrating back south from September to November. This is the best time to see the humpback whale migration as they often have calves and swim close to the shore in order to protect the calves from predators.



Calm morning waters make humpback whales easier to spot but sunsets make for spectacular photos!


The Best Places to See Humpback Whales in Queensland

great barreir reefThe best places to see humpback whales in Queensland are considered to be the Sunshine Coast, The Great Barrer Reef, and Hervey Bay.

The humpback whale’s spectacular acrobatic displays can be easily seen from the shore or from a viewpoint, but if you want to get closer, take a whale watching tour.

Don’t forget to ensure you book with a company that operates in a respectful manner as whales need to be protected from human impact.

The Best Places to See Humpback Whales on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast

You can easily see whales on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast from the shore. Sometimes you’ll see several pods at once as the view points tend to offer 180 degree viewing. Not many people can say they can watch whales from close to their own doorstep!

The best places on the Sunshine Coast include:

Coolum: Point Perry or Point Arkwright, Coolum

Kawana: Point Cartwright

Moffat Beach Headland

Noosa: Hells Gate, Noosa National Park

Alexandra Headland

The Best Places to See Humpback Whales near Brisbane

If you live in or are visiting Queensland’s biggest city, Brisbane, then North Stradbroke is the best place to see humpback whales from the shoreline. It’s an easy and very beautiful 50 minute boat ride from the outskirts of Brisbane. North Stradbroke is home to a large Aboriginal population which celebrates the arrival of the whales each year.

Whale Watching Tours in Queensland

whale watching toursIf you wish to do a whale watching tour in Queensland, you could find the whales swimming under your boat. It’s really not uncommon as whales can be very inquisitive!

Boats are not permitted to go within three hundred meters of whales but if they come to you, that’s another matter. Our recommended spots for whale watching boat tours are Mooloolaba, Hervey Bay (about a quarter of humpbacks pass through here), Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef.


Humpback Whale Migration Events & Celebratons

Humpback whale events and celebrations take place annually along Queensland’s coast. The Quandamooka Aboriginal people of North Stradbroke Island host a “Welcome the whales” traditional celebration and no wonder, the island has some great vantage points for watching the show!

Further north, Hervey Bay is famous for the Hervey Bay Whale Festival. Hervey Bay is unlike anywhere else along the ‘humpback highway’, as many whales stop here to spend around ten days resting, socialising and playing before continuing their trip back south to the Antarctic for the summer months.


Want to know more humpback whale facts?

Check out our online humpback whale course to learn a whole lot more humpback whale facts. The course includes awesome videos, infographics, a whale-watching guide, migration calendar, maps, quizzes and more! 

humpback whale teaching resources

Click here for teaching resources



How Can I Protect Whales? 

You can make a difference and protect whales while watching them by following the following guidelines:

Educate yourself and tell friends

Whale watch with a thoughtful and responsible company

Report sick or injured animals

Reduce plastic usage

Support a whale charity such as:

Whale & Dolphin Conservation
Marine Conservation
Sea Shepherd
Humpbacks & Highrises

Get your FREE Humpback Whale Migration Calendar

Annual Humpback Whale Migration – East Coast Australia

Each year between April and November, Australia’s eastern coastline comes alive with the spectacular acrobatic displays of humpback whales. After a summer of feeding on krill in Antarctic waters, these charismatic animals migrate north to sub-tropical waters where they mate and give birth. And we are lucky enough to be able to easily spot them on their travels from our majestic coastline! Read on for more fascinating information about the migration and for FREE Humpback Whale Resources.

Why not book a Humpback Whale themed incursion or check out our Humpback Whale Teaching Resource Pack.

During their annual migration of up to 10 000 kilometres, humpbacks can easily be seen off the coast of New South Wales and Queensland.

The exact timing of the migration period can vary from year to year depending on water temperature, sea ice, predation risk, prey abundance and the location of their feeding ground.

Humpback Migration Route and Timing

The majority of humpbacks in Australian waters migrate north from June to August, and back towards the Southern Ocean from September to November.

Migration Grouping

Groups of young males typically lead the migration while pregnant cows and cow-calf pairs bring up the rear. Adult breeding animals form the bulk of the migration in the middle stages.

Humpback Whale Facts

  • Humpback whale length: 12- 16 metres
  • Humpback whale weight: up to 50 tonnes or 6 elephants!
  • Average birth weight of humpback: 2 tonnes
  • Birth length: 4-5 metres
  • Humpback whale gestation period: 11 months
  • Favoured birth temperature: 22-25 degrees
  • Origin of Humpback Whale name: the name comes from their very long pectoral fins and knobby looking head which looks a bit like a hump!
  • Easily tracked as identifiable by the unique markings on their tail fluke – so we can learn lots about them!
  • Humpback whale travel speed: up to 8 km an hour
  • Migration travel speed: humpback average only 1.6km an hour during the migration as they rest and socialise along the way
  • Humpbacks sing songs that may be heard hundreds of kilometres away
  • East Coast Australia’s most famous humpback whale is white and has an Aboriginal name, ‘Migaloo’ which means white fella.

The humpback whale is not the largest whale found in Australian waters but we reckon its’ the most iconic.


Click here for FREE Humpback Whale Resources

Click here for our Humpback Whale Online Course

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