Whales undertake a marathon migration from their feeding grounds in the Antarctic to warmer breeding and calving grounds in the north. During this migratory period, between June and October, the east coast of Australia is a prime whale-watching destination, with the Clarence Valley being no exception.
During their migrations, whales travel thousands of miles to reach their destination, following ancient migratory paths that have been passed down from one generation to the next.
Some whales have been known to travel up to 19,000km during migration which is basically Yamba to Alaska and back again. We’re exhausted just thinking about it.
Watching these majestic creatures as they swim past the coast is an unforgettable experience. One that visitors plan into their trips, especially travellers who are also heading north for winter sunshine. Whale watching from the shore is easy when you know how to spot them. Simply look out for movement in the water, such as sudden breaks of whitewash or sprays that break the horizon in the distance. You may even spot their flukes (tails), pectoral fins (flippers) and bodies, making a few larger splashes if you’re lucky.
Thankfully, the Clarence Valley has more than its fair share of beautiful coastline to choose from, so with whispers of whale sightings coming in thick and fast, here are our top 6 places for whale watching in the Clarence Valley.
Wooli – Yaegl Country
Located at either the start or end of the Yuraygir Coastal Walk, depending on which direction you’re travelling, Wooli is one of a few coastal havens sandwiched between the beautiful Yuraygir National Park and the Pacific Ocean. Favourite vantage points amongst locals and travellers include the obvious Wooli Beach, Wilsons Headland and Diggers Camp, which will give you the perfect place to set up camp. Literally. Hop on a local fishing charter during the months of June and October, and there may be more than a catch of the day for you to brag about.
Minnie Water – Yaegl Country
Just up the road, or up the coast, Minnie Water is the whales’ next stop. Head to the picnic area on Waratah Crescent or the lookout off Beach Street to see them wave hello and goodbye as they continue their travels north. Illaroo Campground offers the perfect location to camp beachside within National Park, or head to Minnie Water Holiday Park for a family-friendly holiday with a few more facilities.
Brooms Head – Yaegl Country
They say humans are creatures of habit, and much like the whales who follow the same migration path each year, so do families who flock to Brooms Head Holiday Park for their annual holiday. Generations of little ones have passed through the Norfolk Pines that line the beachfront, with tents and camp setups nestled between them. Sit in the comfort of your own makeshift lounge room, and you may catch a glimpse of a whale in the distance or take a walk up to the Brooms Head Lookout, where your chances are much higher. No pun intended.
Yamba – Yaegl Country
Probably the most pinned location for whale watching in the Clarence Valley, but this has a lot to do with the very skilled skippers at Yamba Fishing and Charters and the crew at Yamba Whale Watch rather than the whales favouring one town over another!
If you want to head out into the deep blue, these teams have you covered, but if you’re more of a land mammal (and there is nothing wrong with that), then pop up to Pilot Hill, that’s the one with the big lighthouse, you can’t miss it. From here, you have endless views of the ocean, and every so often, you catch a glimmer of something splashing on the horizon. Yep, that’s them showing off.
With so many ocean-view apartments to choose from, you don’t even have to leave the house if you don’t want to. Grab a wine, some snacky snacks and don’t take your eyes off the water.
Angourie – Yaegl Country
It’s not just the pro surfers who love this place. Angourie Bay picnic area is a great family-friendly setting that offers two lookouts, public facilities, and iconic scenes over the ocean. Angourie walking track is an option for those who want a taste of the Yuraygir Coastal Walk. Graded as moderate, this track takes you to Dirrangan Lookout, so don’t forget your binoculars and plenty of drinking water.
Iluka – Yaegl Country
It may seem like we’re taking you way off the coastal track here, but stay with us. Iluka rainforest walking track, part of the world heritage Gondwana rainforests, is a great place to spot wildlife, but not even we can promise a whale hiding amongst the ferns. We can, though, guarantee panoramic views of the ocean once you emerge from the forest onto Iluka Bluff; this, our friends, is where the magic happens.
Take a picnic and some binoculars, enjoy the views, and play Spot Wally the Whale with the kids if you dare.
Whether you’re a nature lover or simply curious about these incredible animals, take the time to witness the whale migration in Clarence Valley, and experience the beauty of nature in all its glory. Don’t forget to use our #myclarencevalley when sharing your photos, for an opportunity to feature on our Facebook and Instagram pages and have your image shared with over 50k like-minded travellers.
Do you have everything you need? Here’s our whale-watching checklist.
- Binoculars (for long-distance vision into the horizon)
- Camera (so you can share your images with us here at My Clarence Valley)
- Water (stay hydrated and awesome)
- Snacks (or snacky snacks if you’re fancy)
- Sunhat and long sleeves (because you have to love the skin you’re in)
- Sunblock (because even in winter, the sun likes to shine on the Clarence Valley)
- Patience (they’re just doing their thing… in their own time!)
Friendly but important reminder.
While being out on the water is the best place to watch these magnificent creatures, it is most important to remember while in or on the ocean, you are in their territory, and their safe journey is our priority.
Please give them space and freedom to move as they please. Boaters are reminded not to go within 100 meters of a whale or 300 meters of a whale with a calf. Please cut your motors and slow down if a whale approaches your vessel.
As always, please stay safe, mindful and respect our region.
Team My Clarence Valley