But you probably won’t see a Blue Whale, just saying.
Chances are slim. Slimmer than slim. Pretty much non-existent. But hey, you never will if you never try. It might just happen one day as it did for this one Sydney photographer who was down at his usual whale-watching spot in Maroubra watching humpbacks swim south.
To say that he was lucky is quite the understatement because although there were two possible sightings this century in 2002 and 2013 at Cape Solander, this most recent sighting is the first verified record of a Blue Whale swimming off of Sydney’s coast. That record goes back nearly 100 years!
According to the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service’s Andrew Marshall, Blue Whales ”are not often seen because they tend to live very far out to sea, their populations are widely dispersed and we have very limited data on its migration and critical habitat.” Subsequently, sightings like this as well as the rare Blainville’s beaked whale that, unfortunately, washed up on a Central Coast beach in July help ”improve our understanding of where these species live and suggest if there are measures we need to consider to try to protect them.”
So, with more eyes on the water, the more we can do to help. Though, a bit of vital information first… you’ll most likely see Humpback whales or Southern Right whales swimming by when the waters are their most calm, generally in the mornings or between the hours of 11am – 3pm. Also, the main whale-watching seasons are from September through to November when the whales are moving south, and May through to July when their heading north.
1. Cape Solander, Kamay Botany Bay National Park
This just might be Sydney’s top whale-watching spot. Located in the Kurnell area of Kamay Botany Bay National Park and with a viewing platform to boot, whale watchers shouldn’t have to look very far out to sea to see these majestic ocean creatures as they’ve been known to swim as close to 200m from the coast. However, June/July is the best time to see humpback whales as they migrate to warmer waters.
2. Ben Buckler Point, North Bondi
The most easterly point of land at Bondi and south of the harbour, Ben Buckley Point is a favourite spot among whale-watchers. Spot the gentle mammals on the horizon along the Federation Cliff Walk or from the lookout but make sure to get as high as possible for the best vantage points. No luck? Cheer yourself up with a bite from Speedo’s, made even better on your birthday.
3. Barrenjoey Headland, Palm Beach
Part of the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, this is the most northern part of Palm Beach and also a popular place for a short bushwalk up to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse via the Smuggler’s track. Once up at the lighthouse, you shouldn’t have much problem spotting whales from 100m above sea level.
4. Fairfax Lookout, North Head
Take the Fairfax walking track through North Head for unspoilt ocean views and the city skyline as your backdrop. At 80m above sea level, further east than Ben Buckler Point, and just 11km from the CBD, this is one gorgeous place to walkabout or kick back and spot whales.
5. Malabar Headland National Park, Maroubra
Walk along Boora Point or Western Escarpment walking tracks and keep your eyes peeled for whales in the distance. In Spring, there’s a chance to spot whales heading south to the food-rich Antarctic waters.
6. Watsons Bay, South Head
Specifically, The Gap lookout. The Horny lighthouse isn’t bad either, but The Gap is better.
7. The Coast Track, Royal National Park
If you’re not keen on standing around and waiting, then head to Royal National Park and complete the 26km one-way walk along the Coast Track. Between Bundeena and Otford, you will enjoy some of the most amazing coastal lookouts from the cliffs. Don’t see any humpbacks migrating? No worries, there is plenty more wildlife to spot like sea eagles, silver gulls, and terns.
8. Long Reef Point, Collaroy
One of the great short walks north of Sydney, there are amazing coastal views, city views, and picturesque golf-course views too. Oh, and there are also a couple of secret beaches to come across as well. If whales are not on the horizon, then don’t forget to explore the rock platform for all kinds of other marine creatures.
(Featured image: avalonbeachescape)