Moreton Bay whale watching is one of the best attractions of the greater Brisbane area. You can also visit the wild dolphin resort at Tangalooma.
Humpback whales migrate up and down the coast on their way from and back to the Southern Ocean. From April to August, the whales move up the coast and from August to November, they return back down.
Depending on where you are, the timing of whale tours vary so check ahead. The trip out to look at the whales on a whale watching boat is certainly worth doing, as it is an experience you will remember for a long time.
© Richard Fisher | Flickr - Southern Humpback Whale at Platypus Bay
There is a guide below to some of the great Moreton Bay whale watching tours you can find in the Brisbane area. Redcliffe is also known as the First Settlement City, and is just a 35 to 40 minute drive north of Brisbane, on Moreton Bay. This is a great place to go whale watching. There is a small harbour there.
The Moreton Bay whale watching boats leave from there, during the whale watching season. See the photo below of the Redcliffe beach and jetty and the whale watching boat parked at the end of the Redcliffe jetty.
© Bert Knottenbeld | Flickr - Redcliffe Pier Morteon Bay
Redcliffe is an easy spot to get to for a whale watching experience, especially if you are driving there. There is a scenic drive over a long bridge from the mainland, and you can take a quite picturesque drive past the local beaches to Redcliffe. Moreton Bay whale watching tours leave from Redcliffe jetty during the period from June 1 to Nov 30 each year.
© Don Campbell | Flickr - Whale Watcher Redcliffe Pier Morteon Bay
On board is a guide to help identify whales and other marine life as well as give you information about the local area. Depending on the company, cruises leave around 9am and return around 3pm. They usually serve a hot buffet lunch with morning and afternoon snacks provided. Prices vary depending on the tour operator but are around A$135 for an adult. Children, seniors, and family passes are available.
The photo above shows a Moreton Bay whale watching boat, which leaves from the end of the jetty at Redcliffe. She is parked there for much of the whaling season, and I can tell you the trip on this boat was great.
The captain knows the waters and where to find whales, and also give you a great deal of information about what you are passing as you go. After your cruise you can wander on Redcliffe beach or walk along the Esplanade, browsing shops and cafes.
Redcliffe City has more of a small town atmosphere, and is a laid back very relaxed town. It has been developing more cafes and restaurants along the strip near the jetty, so there are quite a few places to eat.
There is also a swimming area just up from the jetty, known locally as the Lagoon, which is actually a man made large swimming pool with BBQ facilites that are free to use. It has sandy beaches just like the beach, or you can go around the corner and swim at a real beach if you prefer. If you don't have a car, some of the cruise companies have organized hotel transfers from Brisbane hotels.
© Katrina Walker | Flickr - Moreton Island
Tangalooma is the resort on Moreton Island, which is the biggest of the islands located off the coast of Brisbane in Moreton Bay. This is a sand island, and if you look at the picture shown below, you can see that it has little on it other than scrub and sand dunes.
Moreton Island is quite beautiful and is a well known holiday destination for campers who want to get away and enjoy nature. It is also a very popular fishing area, and many folk go there on week-ends to fish off the beach.
© Jenna C. | Flickr - Cruise to Wild Dolphin Resort Tangalooma
Boat tours to Tangalooma leave from the Holt Street Wharf in Brisbane, and they include a stop at Tangalooma Wild Dolphin Resort. There are two options available:
1. A 'whales only' cruise of about 3 hours for Moreton Bay whale watching followed by a stop off at the resort where you are free to use most of the facilities. The cruise leaves at either 7:30am or 10am and returns at 4pm. This cruise is about A$110 for an adult.
2. If you would like to include the opportunity of feeding and interacting with the wild dolphins in the area, then the cruise returns at 7pm and is A$175 for an adult. Both of these tours include a guide onboard to educate and give you information to help identify the local wildlife.
© Roderick Eimes | Flickr - Swimming with Whales Blue Dolphin Tours Hervey Bay
Hervey Bay is another great place to see whales. Although it is a four to five hour trip traveling north from Brisbane, it is said to be an excellent place... and in some peoples opinion possibly the best place to see wild whales. This is because the whales often take time in the bay to rest and play and have their young before continuing their journey.
There are tours all along the eastern coast of Australia, as well as the southern and western coasts, which are outside the scope of our site.
© Tchami | Flickr - Humpback Whale at Hervey Bay
If you are keen to whale watch, Brisbane makes a good base for you to travel to, because there is so much more to offer than only seeing the whales.
Most of Australia's people live around the coast, close to the vast oceans that underpin so much of their outdoor lifestyle, particularly the beaches.
The beauty and adventure found in the ocean can certainly occupy visitors for months and natives for a lifetime. Close to the shore you can surf, boogie board, or just splash through the water.
If you're braver, venture further off shore for the more spectacular sights. From scuba diving HMAS Brisbane or the Great Barrier Reef, to getting up close and personal with whales and dolphins. Depending on where you are in Australia you'll find whale watching tours leaving at some point in the year.