Tag Archives: humpback whale 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

Humpback Whale Migration Guide

whale watching

After a summer of feeding on up to 4 tonnes of krill in nutrient-rich chilly Antarctic waters, more than 20,000 Humpback Whales migrate north to the sub-tropical waters of East Coast Australia. They head to the warm waters of the Coral Sea and Great Barrier Reef, to mate and give birth. The east coast migration is one of the longest migratory journeys of any mammal on Earth – up to 10,000 km round trip! Our Humpback Migration Guide will help you make the most of one of the most incredible shows on earth…

To get the full low down on the east coast migration, check out our online course. humpback whale

When to Watch the Humpback Migration

The exact timing of the humpback migration can vary slightly from year to year but generally the whales can be easily seen off the East Coast at the following times:

May – Aug             Migrating north (generally 5-10km from the coast)

Sept – Nov            Migrating back South (often with new-born calves)

This map highlights some of the best whale watching lookouts on the east coast.

Tip: The whales are normally easier to see migrating south as they tend to travel closer to shore, protecting their calves from predators.


Check out our humpback migration calendar for more details…

Humpback Migration Calendar

Time of Day whale tail

Morning – Calm morning waters make easy viewing, before the wind picks up.

Evening – Sunsets make for spectacular whale watching as the changing light highlights the action.


Where to Watch 

The humpback’s spectacular acrobatic displays are often easily observed from the beach or land-based lookouts – so everyone gets the chance to watch for free!!



Best Whale Watching on the Sunshine Coast whale watching

The best whale watching on the Sunshine Coast can be observed from…

  • Coolum: Point Perry or Point Arkwright, Coolum
  • Kawana: Point Cartwright
  • Moffat Beach Headland
  • Noosa: Hells Gate, Noosa National Park
  • Alexandra Headland

Queensland Whale Watching by Boat 

whale watchingOur favorite places to go whale watching by boat…


-Hervey Bay: about a quarter of humpbacks enter Hervey Bay


-Great Barrier Reef

Best Whale Watching near Brisbane

In our opinion, the best whale watching near Brisbane is from…

  • North Stradbroke Island – Point Lookout


Whale Watching Tips Humpback eye

Here are our whale watching tips – to ensure you get the most from your experience

  • Be respectful and mindful – follow 100 meter distance regulations
  • Take binoculars
  • Take a copy of our Identifying Humpbacks guide so you know what you’re looking for
  • Get up high for a better view
  • Be patient
  • Get educated so you can impress your friends with the facts!


Don’t forget to look out for East Coast Australia’s most famous white humpback whale. It’s Aboriginal name is ‘Migaloo’ or ‘white fella’.




Why We Need Whales

Whales are essential to the marine eco-system and therefore to us. They help to keep our oceans healthy. As we get up to 70% of our oxygen from the sea, we need it to be healthy enough to produce that oxygen, else we humans can’t survive!

5 Ways You Can Protect Whales

  1. Educate yourself & your friends
  2. Whale watch with a responsible company & keep 100 metres away
  3. Report sick or injured animals
  4. Reduce plastic usage & do not litter
  5. Support a whale charity:

Whale & Dolphin Conservation
Marine Conservation
Sea Shepherd
Humpbacks & Highrises



humpback whale kids courseTo get educated about the humpback migration and why we need to protect whales, why not check out our online course for kids




amazing sharks kids courseInterested in other courses for kids? Check out our Amazing Sharks Course