Victoria’s southern coastline is known for its annual influx of spectacular marine species, including Humpbacks, Orcas, and Southern Right Whales. Each winter, these enormous sea mammals migrate to the shores of Warrnambool, a beautiful city along Australia’s Great Ocean Road. You definitely want to experience seeing these majestic animals up close in the wild. Here’s what you need to know.
History of Whale Watching in Warrnambool
For hundreds of years, Southern Right Whales have visited the Bay of Warrnambool (also known as Lady Bay). During the summer months, the animals live in the cooler waters of the sub-Antarctic. Each winter, however, they migrate to the sheltered bays of Australia’s southern coast to calve. The shores of Warrnambool attract the females, where they give birth and raise their young.
From the early 1800s, whaling was practiced commercially in Australia. This nearly caused the Southern Right Whale species to go extinct, losing about 75% of its population. Fortunately, whaling was made illegal in 1935 and the population has been recovering slowly ever since. Today, the total Australian whale population stands at 3,500 individuals. Thankfully, conservation efforts are proving effective.
Since the mid-1950s, observing wildlife has become a popular activity for locals and visitors alike. These majestic animals can put on an incredible show, whether tail slapping, spy hopping, or fluke waving as they swim about the warm water of the coast.
Warrnambool’s dramatic location on a plateau behind a steep bluff, overlooking the sheltered Lady Bay, makes it an excellent vantage point. Today, visitors can view wildlife from dedicated platforms, rocky cliffsides, or join a whale watching Warrnambool tour. Either way, this is not an opportunity to miss.
The Best Time to See Whales in Warrnambool
The best time for whales watching Victoria is between June and September every year. During these months, the female Southern Right Whales head to the protected shores along the Great Ocean Road to give birth to their young.
The best time of day to see Warrnambool whales is when the sun is shining. During the morning and mid-day, the animals often breach to sun themselves. Even if you visit the Warrnambool port during the offseason, it is still worth the visit for the beautiful coastline alone.
Where to See Whales near Warrnambool
Wildlife can be spotted along the coast of the Great Ocean Road from Torquay to Port Fairy. Known as the ‘whale corridor’, this stretch is one of the only places in the world where whales swim within 100 metres of the shore. The best whale watch Victoria opportunities are found around Warrnambool, Portland, and Port Fairy.
Logan Beach Whale Watching Platform, Warrnambool
Address: Logans Beach Road, off Hopkins Point Road, Warrnambool
Arguably the best place for spotting these beautiful mammals is at Logan Beach Whale Nursery in Warrnambool. The protected shoreline offers the perfect refuge for the females to calve their young. Southern Right Whales give birth in many areas along Logans Beach coastline. However, the consistent number of females that return to the nursery year after year gives visitors the best chances of spotting whales at Warrnambool during the season.
The platform is specially built in the sand dunes, offering exceptional views of the wildlife as well as the coastline. The long wooden platform is just a short distance from the car park. A ramp easily allows people of all abilities to access the platform. Not only is it free to visit, but access is also open at all times, so you can check it out at different times of the day. Keep in mind that there are no public restrooms at the platform.
For the best sighting opportunities at Logans Beach, make time for multiple visits. Even if the animals are in the area, they may not always be visible from the beach. We suggest calling the Visitor Information Centre beforehand to confirm if they are active in the area.
For the best experience, plan ahead. Windy and wet conditions are not unheard of, so check the weather and bring your rain gear and a change of clothes just in case. Binoculars or a telescope can also enhance your viewing opportunities. You might even spot the males and young adults playing further at sea!
The Surf Life Saving Club, Port Fairy
Address: 4 Hughes Ave, Port Fairy VIC 3284, Australia
The town of Port Fairy is another great spot along the Ocean. Only a half-hour from Warrnambool, the quaint town with it’s famous lighthouse is home to one of the busiest fishing ports in Victoria. It is well worth a stop.
We recommend checking out the Surf Life Saving Club on East Beach during the winter months for a good viewing location.
Nuns Beach and Wade Street Viewing Platform, Portland
Wade Street Viewing Platform Address: Dutton Blu, 1 Wade St, Portland VIC 3305, Australia
Portland is another good spot for Victoria whale watching. The Southern Right Whale passes through the port on their migration south. Check out the Portland Visitor Centre – if the whale flag is raised and flying high, there’s a good chance you’ll see some in the area.
Some of our favourite spots for viewings are the cliffs above Nuns Beach and the Wade Street Viewing Platform which has free public binoculars.
Warrnambool Whale Watching Tours
One of the best ways to enjoy -the beauty of the Great Ocean Road is by joining a tour. Practice responsible tourism – choose a company that follows local and national laws.
For whale watching tours Warrnambool, Boat Charters Warrnambool offers great options. You can join a 1-4 hour customized cruise in the bay or even go all the way to Port Fairy! Prices begin at 99$/person (min. 4 people).
If you’re looking for a shorter tour, Mulloka Cruises in Port Fairy is a great affordable option. They offer daily half-hour bay cruises around the Bay for only 15$/adult and 5$/child. Weather and number dependent, so call ahead!
For a multi-activity tour, check out the ‘Warrnambool Wanderer Tour’ from Warrnambool Tours. During the season, this tour includes a stop at the Logans Beach Nursery Platform, plus a visit to the Botanical Gardens, Thunder Point, and more. The tour cost is 75$/person.
Whether you’re simply looking for a pit-stop along the whale watching Great Ocean Road corridor, or you’re an avid wildlife lover, the Warrnambool Port is not to be missed. Explore the beach on your own or join a tour, either way, you’re sure to have a good time.