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6 days Itinerary

Itinerary: Whale watching

Overview

Pack your binoculars to experience the majesty and grandeur of these oceanic giants. This epic 6-day drive showcases the best places to whale watch all along the NSW coastline. Humpback whales and southern right whales sail north for warmer waters throughout June and into July, and return southwards from around September to November.

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Get ready to spot them, and other less common whale species, as you wind down the NSW coast, from Cape Byron State Conservation Area in the far north to Ben Boyd National Park in the south.

Stop at the Coffs Coast, Port Stephens, Sydney and Jervis Bay. Marvel at the whales’ size and grace as they glide past panoramic coastal lookouts or get up closer on a whale-watching tour. Take a guided tour to learn more about the migratory paths, complex underwater love songs and acrobatic communication of these awe-inspiring creatures. You can drive this journey in sections or take a longer time to do its entire length.

Experience the annual whale migration in coastal national parks between June and November. Find the perfect vantage point to enjoy the migration and plan your next coastal adventure at the Wild About Whales website.

Day 1: A guaranteed fluke

Start your adventure in Cape Byron State Conservation Area, which sits at Australia’s most easterly point and is a sensational location for whale watching. Follow the coastal walk to the Cape Byron Lighthouse, looking out for the majestic whales which often frolic just a hundred metres offshore. To get closer, join a whale watching tour or go kayaking from the beach. Spend the night in a classic beach cottage such as Partridge Cottage and Geoff's Shed or Thomson’s Cottage.

Day 2: Whale watching headquarters

Continue down the Pacific Coast to Coffs Coast Regional Park, where the Solitary Islands coastal track winds past rocky headlands that are perfect for whale watching. Don’t miss Arrawarra Headland and Woolgoolga Headland, which the locals have nicknamed ‘whale watch headland’ for a reason. Continue on to Bongil Bongil National Park, for a night in the spacious, self-contained beach house of Tuckers Rocks Cottage.

Pied butcherbird, Bongil Bongil National Park. Photo: Michael van Ewijk

Bongil Bongil National Park

Bongil Bongil National Park, near Coffs Harbour on the NSW north coast is a great spot for fishing and barbecues, great for a day trip or school excursions. It is also home to a large population of koalas.

Fees

Free park entry

Things to do
10
Places to stay
1
Where
North Coast

Day 3: A sea of possibilities

Drive to the holiday haven of Port Stephens and explore Tomaree National Park, where the easy walk to the top of Tomaree Head offers panoramic views across the north coast and surrounding ocean. Stop at the picnic area for more chances to catch whales gliding past the headland. You can also spot the majestic mammals from Fishermans Bay foreshore, the Wreck Beach walk or in Worimi National Park, where you can see the huge Stockton sand dunes and camp on the beach.

Day 4: Harbouring spectacular views

Head into Sydney, where the harbour headlands and jagged coastline are lined with scenic vantage points. In Sydney Harbour National Park, check out Middle Head, North Head and Hornby Lighthouse near Watsons Bay. Further south, whales swim as close as 200m to Cape Solander in Botany Bay, one of Sydney’s best places to whale watch. If you stay around Sydney Harbour, book a night in charming Constables Cottage in Watsons Bay. Or continue south after Botany Bay for the tranquil riverside Bonnie Vale campground on the northern fringes of Royal National Park.

Day 5: Charter your own adventure

Continue south to Jervis Bay National Park, where each year, more whales are sighted in the calm, protected waters. Watch them from the deck of a charter boat or try your luck from the white sands of Hyams Beach. You should also check out Cape St George Lighthouse, Caves Beach and the Perpendicular Lighthouse. Spend the night in nearby Nowra.

Day 6: Wild rock

It’s a long drive to Ben Boyd National Park, near Eden, where the wild, rocky coastline is an inspirational place to whale watch. See gracious humpback whales glide through Twofold Bay and visit Davidson Whaling Station to learn more about the area's whaling history. In early November, this stretch of coast is backdrop for the Eden Whale Festival. Spend the night in Green Cape Lightstation Keepers' Cottage - heritage accommodation with breathtaking views.

Aerial view of beach and headland near Saltwater Creek campground in Ben Boyd National Park. Photo: John Spencer/OEH

Ben Boyd National Park

Ben Boyd National Park, near Eden, offers whale watching, fishing and beach camping. Stay in heritage lighthouse accommodation or enjoy the scenic Light to Light walk.

Fees

Park entry fees apply (southern section only).

Things to do
19
Places to stay
4
Where
South Coast
Length
6 days
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North Head hero, Sydney Harbour National Park. Photo: David Finnegan