Queensland Holidays - The Official Tourism Site for Queensland

Experience Natural Encounters


Imagine a whale launching its entire body into the air and creating a spectacular moment of suspension above its ocean home before crashing back into the cool ocean waters.

Witnessing the awesome strength and beauty of one of the world’s largest creatures is an experience you must add to your bucket list. Whether you’re watching Humpback whales on their migration break at Hervey Bay, or the Dwarf Minke whales swimming on the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland is the perfect place to have a premium whale-watching experience.

Whale Watching

Humpback whales travel along the Queensland coast from June to early November each year on their southern migration to Antarctica. They are best seen in the shallow coastal waters of the Great Barrier Reef, in Tropical North Queensland and the Whitsundays, and in Southern Queensland in Hervey Bay, Moreton Bay and on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts. Hervey Bay is used as a resting ground by the whales on their long journey south and is recognised as the Whale Watching capital of Australia.

A number of marine tour operators conduct full and half-day whale watching tours in these areas.

When: June - early November

Where: Fraser Coast, Brisbane/Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast. Whitsundays, Tropical North Queensland

Minke Whale Swim Programs

Minke whales are commonly seen along the Ribbon Reefs north of Cairns between May and August. In June and July there are Minke Whale Expeditions which allow you to snorkel with these very curious whales. These research-based trips have reported seeing up to 28 of these graceful mammals in one pod and the whales have been known to remain with the boats for up to 10 hours. Trips are usually 3 or 4 nights.

When: June - July

Where: Cairns/Port Douglas, Tropical North Queensland, Townsville

Whale Facts Infographic

Download the whale infographic here >

Whale Infographic

Whale Facts

  • Growing to up to 16 metres in length and weighing up to 40 tonne, a single whale can be equivalent to eleven elephants or 600 people.
  • Whales are very active creatures; regularly perform a variety of behaviours like pectoral slapping, tail flapping and breaching.
  • Whales can live to at least 48 years, but it is likely to be higher and probably closer to 100 years!
  • Whale songs are only sung by the males and can last from a few moments to an hour and travel for hundreds of kilometres. These sounds of around 170 decibels!
  • A whales cruising speed when leisurely moving is 3.5 knots to 5 knots but when chased they can reach speeds of 9 or 10 knots.
  • Their annual migration from Antarctica to Queensland covers 10,000 km’s (5000km each way) between May – November.
  • Hervey Bay has now been recognised as the only genuine stop-over on the humpback whales' southern migration along Australia's east coast and is known as the whale watching capital of the world.
  • Read more about whales on the Queensland Blog.

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