Whale Watching in Hervey Bay

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Hervey Bay has remained dear in our memory since our first trip to Queensland. It had been the starting point for our tour of Fraser Island*. We had also spontaneously decided to go and see Lady Eliott Island from here. And since whale season was just starting, and Hervey Bay is known for being a great place to watch whales, it was an easy decision for us to return for the third time and book a whale-watching tour*. After all, as the saying goes, good things come in threes!

Back in Hervey Bay
Back in Hervey Bay

Throwback to New South Wales

Actually, we weren’t even sure if we would book a whale watching tour when we returned to Hervey Bay. After all, we had been very lucky while we were in New South Wales on our journey up to Queensland.

We stopped to have lunch at Hastings Point Lookout when something in the ocean caught our eye. There was something moving. It was a little further out, but as we looked closer, we could clearly see whales! The whales were playing and slapping their fins into the ocean which made a thundering clap. Looking across the horizon, we could see spouts everywhere!

Whales at Hastings Point
Whales at Hastings Point

It was an incredible spectacle, and we couldn’t get enough.

Whales everywhere
Whales everywhere

Dolphins

Later in the day, we also saw dolphins, about twenty at a time, who playfully surfed the waves. To be able to experience such an unplanned natural wonder was an absolute dream.

Dolphins surfing
Dolphins surfing
We could watch Dolphins forever
We could watch Dolphins forever
Dolphins
Dolphins

We liked it so much there that we decided to stay overnight.

Enjoying time at Hastings Point
Enjoying time at Hastings Point
Hastings Point is so beautiful
Hastings Point is so beautiful

The next morning, we opened the back door of our campervan and had the best view you could wish for. As the ocean sparked from the rising sun, and a few surfers were patiently waiting for the perfect wave, we could see another whale right in front of us! It was so close that we couldn’t believe it!

While our coffee was brewing fragrantly, we kept looking out and knew that we didn’t want to leave here just yet.

Surfers at Hastings Poin
Surfers at Hastings Poin

We spent the rest of the day like the day prior: just staring at the ocean and enjoying the wonders of the world.

Coffee is ready
Coffee is ready

The hours rushed by quickly as we sat in our camping chairs enjoying our time.

Hastings Point
Hastings Point

It reminded us of our amazing whale-watching tour in Kaikoura, New Zealand, which is also forever in our hearts.

Back to Hervey Bay

Our first point of contact was the Hervey Bay Information Center. We were eager to see if we could still stay in our campervan free of charge here again. And we wanted to figure out how much a whale tour would cost.

We got our info, and the parking lot was also quite empty, so we decided to just come by later in the evening to stay the night.

Because I hadn’t been to the beach for so long, James drove me to the ocean, and we took a nice, long beach walk. At sunset, we sat on the steps and I had a video chat with my mom, who loves sunsets as much as I do.

Video Chat with my Mum in Hervey Bay
Video Chat with my Mum in Hervey Bay

Planning

Afterward, we went back to the information center and talked about whether or not we should really do a whale-watching tour.

While James looked at the different tours, I made a rough outline of where we had to be and how long we had to putter around. We had accepted a short house sit in Bowen in the next few days. This reduced our free time a little, but since we had seen almost everything that we wanted to see on our first visit to Queensland, the timing was perfect for a house sit. In addition, Bowen Golf Club, which we wanted to play, was only three minutes away from our house sit.

I could see on James’s face that he really wanted to do the whale watching tour.  Even if a small panic attack was building up inside of me because of my seasickness, I said that we should call and book a tour. It was already almost 8 p.m. and we had little hope that someone would pick up. But a charming lady answered the phone and quickly booked us in. It was uncomplicated, and we had two spots for the tour the next day. There was no going back for me! But seeing James’ beaming face, and, of course, seeing whales would be worth it.

Cast Off

The next morning, we drove to the marina and arrived at the pier for the Freedom III, our tour ship.

Pier in Hervey Bay
Pier in Hervey Bay

We were warmly greeted by Sue, who had helped us by phone the night before. AND: She had looked at our website and knew that we were traveling the world with our golf clubs. We had nice a little chat as we happily checked in.

Ready for Whale Watching in Hervey Bay
Ready for Whale Watching in Hervey Bay

Unfortunately, the news which I did not want to hear, came: the weather was about to change! Rain and strong northeast winds were predicted. That meant that half to one meter high waves were expected. But the good thing was that whales had already been spotted. I took a seasickness tablet,  and already cursed the idea of going on a ship. Why did I do this over and over again?! At some point you learn, don’t you?

An announcement from Captain Keith came. I didn’t understand everything, but he seemed to be a funny guy. The beauty of sailors is that they all have a special sense of humor that I really like. But his: “I wouldn’t call the sea rough-rough…” made me a little scared.

While firing up the engine, his next joke did not arouse a laugh in me, but rather a panic. “If you want to get out, you should do it now!” he said with a smile in his voice.

Freedom III
Freedom III

Remembering back to our time in our lockdown in Jervis Bay, where we had sometimes meditated a bit. I was practicing exactly this at this moment. I pictured whales protruding from the sea in my mind. That would be worth it. Absolutely. Stay cool, look out at the horizon, and everything will be all right!

Concentration

As I stared at the horizon, I heard over the loudspeaker that Fraser Island was originally called K’gari, which translates to “paradise.” We passed Big Woody Island and Little Woody Island, which were once used as quarantine islands.  

Happy at the Whale Watching in Hervey Bay
Happy at the Whale Watching in Hervey Bay

I was reasonably able to admire the islands. The tablet seemed to work, so I could even say yes to the homemade scones with strawberry jam and cream. Our plates included another specialty: Captain Keith himself had made his famous chocolate profiteroles for the tour, and they tasted fantastic!

Homemade profiteroles and scones at our Whale Watching in Hervey Bay
Homemade profiteroles and scones at our Whale Watching in Hervey Bay

Slow Motion

At about 9:30 the engines had been started, and by 11:00 a.m. we already saw our first Humpback whales!  And one of them was directly right in front of the ship!!

First sightings
First sightings

Everything felt like it was in slow motion. In the distance, we saw another whale that was obviously having fun jumping out of the water. Again and again, he slapped his fin into the sea, and we wished he would come closer

Playing in the Water
Playing in the Water

The curious whale, which had now swum closer to the boat, did not jump but did what Captain Keith referred to as “Spyhopping”. A spyhop is when a whale raises their head vertically out of the water.

Curious Whale
Curious Whale

He then swam sideways, and we could see his flipper a few times!

As the boat bobbed up and down, I tried to take photos with one hand while desperately clinging to the rail with the other. Apart from us, there were no other boats as far as the eye could see, and we had the whale all for ourselves! And he was so close that we could hear him.

What an experience
What an experience

A Whale of a Day

We drove on and saw so many whales that Captain Keith couldn’t decide in which direction to go to next. Even a mother with her calf swam to us. While I was enjoying these fascinating animals, the rocking of the boat unfortunately was taking its toll on others. Their nausea was visibly written on their faces, and I was so glad that I had taken the tablet at the beginning of the trip and had concentrated so intently on the horizon. Time passed so quickly, and James and I were overjoyed. We hadn’t just seen whales! We witnessed how they played in the water, slapping their flippers loudly, and looking out with their heads. It seemed almost as if they were curious to see who was on the boat!

Seeing Whales in the Wild
Seeing Whales in the Wild
Getting a show
Getting a show

Our Unforgettable Highlight

And as if all of this wasn’t enough, the highlight of our day was about to come! A Humpback whale read my mind. He approached the boat and suddenly leaped out of the water! To say that I had goosebumps would be a massive understatement. It is for experiences like this, why we travel! We will never forget this moment!

Our Highlight of the Day
Our Highlight of the Day
Unbelievable
Unbelievable
The Highlight of the Day
The Highlight of the Day
Highlight of Our Day
Highlight of Our Day

The Day Comes to an End

Lunch was served on the Freedom III and they even provided us with a vegetarian plate.

Vegetarian lunch on the Freedom III
Vegetarian lunch on the Freedom III

I was still trying to look at the horizon as much as possible because the weather hadn’t gotten any better. On the contrary, it had gotten worse. It started raining so hard that the Captain decided to drive towards the harbor after lunch. Some guests were feeling worse and worse. I’m sure Captain Keith’s decision sparked the brightest joy in them.

Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale

We will always remember our whale watching tour in Hervey Bay. Watching this spectacle up close was and is an absolute highlight of our trip that we will never forget!

What a day
What a day
Grateful to be able to seeing this wonder
Grateful to be able to seeing this wonder

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This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Sue Reid

    Thanks for your wonderful article. Hopefully the conditions will be better next time you visit Hervey Bay for whale watching.

    1. Hello Sue,

      Thank you for your wonderful words! Weather conditions aside, our day on your tour was one of the most unforgettable experiences we have had in our entire travels!

      All our very best,
      Menekse and James

  2. Jonjdi

    Another great write up! Sounds like so much fun and glad you survived the rough seas!

    Wish I could make one of those purchases! ?

  3. JEN WURSTHORN

    We can’t wait for our whale experience next week. Your blogging made us feel like we were on the boat with you…albeit bar the seasickness. Hope the weather is fine for us. Thank you for those amazing pictures.

    1. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment Jen! We sincerely appreciate it and are so happy that we could take you along with us.
      We hope, you will have an unforgettable day on your Whale Watching Tour. Please let us know how you liked it.

      Yours in travel and golf,
      Menekse and James

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