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

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

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
9
Where
North Coast
The coastline near Tuckers Rocks Cottage, Bongil Bongil National Park. Photo: John Spencer/DPIE

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
12
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.

Coastal view from Tomaree Head summit walk. Photo: John Spencer/OEH

Tomaree Head Summit walk

Take a guided tour along Tomaree Head Summit walk, absorbing views of Port Stephens and the north coast. When you reach the summit, enjoy a relaxing lunch on the bench by the lookout.

Price
Free park entry.
Distance
2.2km return
Time
1hr 30min - 2hrs
Grade
Grade 5
Where
Tomaree National Park in North Coast
Wreck Beach walk, Tomaree National Park. Photo: John Spencer/OEH

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 park entry.
Distance
2km return
Time
30min - 1hr
Grade
Grade 4
Where
Tomaree National Park in North Coast
A man fishing on the beach in Worimi National Park. Photo: John Spencer © DPIE

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
7
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.

Two men walk along Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay National Park. Photo: Michael Van Ewijk © DPIE

Jervis Bay National Park

Explore the natural beauty of Jervis Bay National Park on NSW's sparkling South Coast, near Nowra. Discover Aboriginal heritage, visit Hyams Beach, renowned for its white sand, whale watching and water activities.

Fees

Free park entry

Things to do
15
Where
South Coast
White sand and clear water at Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay National Park. Photo: David Finnegan &copy: DPIE

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, and loop back along Hyams Beach.

Price
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
21
Places to stay
4
Where
South Coast
Length
6 days
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