School excursion

Whale secrets

Stage 1 (Years 1-2), Science and Technology, Cape Byron State Conservation Area

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Overview

Discover whale secrets in a playful mix of drama, games, story and ocean discovery for Stage 1 (Years 1-2) students. This excursion supports the Living World topic of the K-10 Science and Technology syllabus.

Read more about Whale secrets

Students will learn how to identify humpback whales based on their characteristics and features. They will understand how the marine environment provides for the needs of whales species.

They will meet Bowe the humpback whale and explore his life story. Students will make informal measurements and record observations using labels and tables.

Students will come away with a greater understanding of whales and how science helps us how to care for this important species.

There is dedicated time for whale watching and seeking out other marine animals and seabirds from fantastic vantage points throughout this iconic reserve.

For program outline, safety and practical information about this excursion, see info for teachers

Stage Stage 1 (Years 1-2)
Learning area Science and Technology
Student outcomes

ST1-4LW-S. Describes observable features of living things and their environments

ST1-5LW-T. Identifies how plants and animals are used for food and fibre products

Objectives

Students will:

  • Learn the external characteristics and features of a humpback whale
  • Investigate how to group whales based on their external features
  • Understand that the marine environment provides for the needs of whales species
  • Identify that whales live in different places to suit their needs
  • Understand ways in which we use science to care and protect whales
  • Explore how whales grow, change and have offspring similar to themselves
  • Learn how whale products are used today and in the past to meet human needs
  • Learn how to identify whales in the wild

Excursion details

When

Weekdays during school term.

Availability
Guided. Available on request.
Where
Cape Byron walking track, Cape Byron State Conservation Area
Duration
2hrs
Grading
Easy. Guided activities in a national park, on formed and uneven bushwalking tracks and on a grassy picnic area. The track from the lighthouse to Wategos Beach is around 1km.
Price

$10.50 per person (includes GST). Minimum fee of $210.00 (includes GST). Teachers and other staff are free.

Accessibility
No wheelchair access
Meeting point
Cape Byron Lighthouse precinct at the end of Lighthouse Road, Byron Bay. Groups meet on the verandah of the northern side of the Lighthouse Keepers Cottage (visitor centre).
Equipment
provided
Yes
Booking
If you would like to organise a NPWS school excursion please get in touch with local staff or use the 'Enquire' link for the online form.
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Current alerts in this area

There are no current alerts in this area.

Local alerts

For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/education/stage-1-science-technology-whale-secrets-cape-byron-state-conservation-area/local-alerts

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Operated by

Park info

  • in Cape Byron State Conservation Area in the North Coast region
    • Cape Byron State Conservation Area is open all hours, but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.
    • Cape Byron Lighthouse precinct is open 8am to sunset.
    • The Maritime Museum in the former Lighthouse Keeper’s office at the base of the lighthouse is open 10am to 4pm daily.
    • Opening before 8am for events or disabled access can be arranged by prior notice – contact NPWS Byron Bay office during business hours 02 6639 8300.
  • Park entry fees:

    Cape Byron Lighthouse precinct and Information Centre: $8 per vehicle per hour/$4 per hour motorcycles. Maximum 1 hour per vehicle per calendar day, including all NPWS annual passholders.

    Captain Cook lookout, Cosy Corner, and The Pass: $4 per vehicle/motorcycle per hour. Pay and display machines - cash and credit cards accepted.

    Coach entry: $29 per coach up to 30 seats; $55 per coach 31 to 43 seats; $91 per coach 44 seats and over.

    Buy annual pass (//pass.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/).
See more visitor info

Info for teachers

All the practical information you need to know about Whale secrets.

Program outline

  • Start at Cape Byron Lighthouse precinct. Introductions, acknowledgement of Country and safety talk.
  • Activity 1: Whale study, including characteristics, identification, grouping, habitat, needs and how we use whale products.
  • Activity 2: Whale investigations and games, with a focus on scientific enquiry and the use of measurement tools.
  • Toilet break prior to walk
  • Activity 3: Guided junior ranger whale walk through Cape Byron State Conservation Area to Wategos Beach (1km). Students will focus on seeking out whales using identification techniques.
  • Activity 3 alternative: An alternative walk is a loop walk to the most easterly point (650m return) returning to the lighthouse precinct. This walk includes whale watching tips and use of the whale watching education cart. This option is available to schools that feel the walk to Wategos Beach is too long for their students.
  • Finish at Wategos Beach, or Cape Byron Lighthouse precinct if requested.

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    This activity begins at Cape Byron Lighthouse and ends at the western end of Wategos Beach. To get to Cape Byron Lighthouse, take Lawson Street (which becomes Lighthouse Road) and follow it to the lighthouse. Wategos Beach is on Marine Parade, off Palm Valley Drive, Byron Bay.

    Parking

    Bus parking is located at the lighthouse precinct. Buses transporting students on approved programs are free. Additional vehicles will need to pay appropriate fees.

    Parking is limited at excursion venues. An $8 car entry fee applies at the lighthouse. Those with NPWS Parks Passes are exempt. Annual passes can be purchased online or from any NPWS office.

    What to bring

    Bring a hat, sunscreen, adequate food and drinking water. Fresh water bubblers are available at The Pass.

    Please wear long pants, closed comfortable shoes and bring a hat and sunscreen. Be ready for all weather conditions with a jumper and raincoat. And remember to bring food and any necessary medications. 

    It’s a good idea to pack your belongings in a backpack rather than a plastic bag.

    Maps and downloads

    Safety messages

    Pre activity briefing: participants will be briefed at the start of the activity/day.

    Safety equipment: NPWS staff carry radios and first aid kits, hold current first aid certificates and are aware of emergency procedures.

    Staff accreditation: NPWS staff have current Senior First Aid accreditation. They are experienced in working with groups of students in the natural environment and have excellent knowledge of the specific areas they are visiting including potential hazards. NPWS is committed to a Child Safe and Friendly Environment. Our staff have been screened for child-related employment and have completed a Working with Children Check.

    Emergencies: NPWS staff are trained to deal with emergencies and emergency procedures are in place. Ongoing supervision of a student following first aid treatment will be the responsibility of the visiting school.

    Risk assessment and risk benefits

    Our rangers and guides have the technical skill and experience to assess the risks and the benefits of a variety of activities delivered as part of our learning programs.

    We believe in including opportunities that allow students to learn and experience for themselves through exploration in the natural environment.

    Please make your own risk assessment based on the information provided. Detailed potential risks and controls are provided for the site to assist teachers in risk management planning. Teachers and carers should be aware of, and consider the needs, abilities and medical conditions of students when visiting this site. The supervision of students remains the responsibility of the teacher. The school must ensure an adequate number of adult supervisors are present.

    Accessibility

    Disability access level - no wheelchair access

    Wheelchair facilities are available at the lighthouse precinct, however the track from the lighthouse to The Pass is not wheelchair friendly. If you are interested in booking this program, please let us know in advance if you are bringing someone with special needs so that we can plan accordingly.