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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.

Read more about Itinerary: Whale watching

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.

Cape Byron Lighthouse, Cape Byron State Conservation Area. Photo: David Young/OEH.

Cape Byron State Conservation Area

Cape Byron State Conservation Area is great for school excursions and is home to Cape Byron lighthouse, heritage accommodation, walking tracks, scenic lookouts and the Cape Café.

Fees

Park entry fees apply.

Things to do
30
Places to stay
5
Where
North Coast
Cape Byron Lighthouse, Cape Byron State Conservation Area. Photo: John Spencer/OEH

Cape Byron Lighthouse

Cape Byron Lighthouse is closed until further notice to protect the health and safety of our visitors and staff. Cape Byron Lighthouse sits on Australia’s most easterly point, a shining light over Byron Bay. Take a guided tour, find out about shipwrecks and enjoy spectacular views.

Price
Free. Park entry fees apply.
Wheelchair
access
Medium
Where
Cape Byron State Conservation Area in North Coast

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.

Tree tops, Campbells Beach, Coffs Coast Regional Park. Photo: Rob Cleary

Coffs Coast Regional Park

Coffs Coast Regional Park, near Coffs Harbour, is a top spot for fishing, surfing and birdwatching. You’ll find great picnic areas, plus beaches with off-leash dog zones.

Fees

Free park entry

Things to do
8
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.

Wreck Beach walk, Tomaree National Park. Photo: John Spencer Copyright:NSW Government

Wreck Beach walk

The short walk to Wreck Beach offers a private alternative to the beaches of Port Stephens, with opportunities for picnicking and whale watching.

Price
Free. Free park entry.
Distance
2km return
Time
30min - 1hr
Grade
Grade 4
Where
Tomaree National Park in North Coast
Shadows on the sand dunes. Worimi Conservation Lands. Copyright:NSW Government

Worimi National Park

Worimi National Park is a special Aboriginal place near Newcastle. Enjoy whale watching, fishing and beach driving on the Worimi Conservation Lands. 

Fees

Beach Vehicle Permit required. Annual passes are not valid for this park.

Things to do
6
Where
North Coast

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 Steele Point Cottage in Vaucluse. In Sydney's northern beaches, Barrenjoey Lighthouse has views across the ocean and back to Pittwater.

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.

Hyams Beach trail, Jervis Bay National Park. Photo: Mike Newling

Hyams Beach trail

Hyams Beach trail, also known as the Bird Spotter’s walk is great for birdwatching in Jervis Bay National Park. Continue the walk to Seamans Beach for a refreshing swim.

Price
Free. Free park entry.
Distance
2km return
Time
45min - 1hr 15min
Grade
Grade 5
Where
Jervis Bay National Park in South Coast

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 headland, ocean and eucalypt trees near Saltwater campground. Photo: John Spencer/DPIE

Ben Boyd National Park

Ben Boyd National Park spans 47km of rocky coastline and sheltered inlets. Located near the whale watching town of Eden on the far South Coast of NSW, its crystal clear waters are perfect for snorkelling and swimming.

Fees

Park entry fees apply in the Green Cape area of the park (south of Eden).

Things to do
18
Places to stay
4
Where
South Coast
Davidson Whaling Station Walk. Photo: John Yurasek

Davidson Whaling Station

Take a guided tour at historic Davidson Whaling Station – discover how killer whales helped the Davidson family. And when you're done, finish the day with a picnic at the nearby beach.

Price
Free. Free park entry.
Wheelchair
access
Medium
Where
Green Cape area in South Coast
Length
6 days
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North Head hero, Sydney Harbour National Park. Photo: David Finnegan