With whale numbers booming in recent years, the Barrington Coast is the perfect place to watch the parade. Pick any spot on this list and you'll be mesmerised by these gentle giants. Grab a coﬀee and a loved one and with a sunrise background, sit back and enjoy the show!
Whale watching season in NSW
Whale watching season is an annual event where whales migrate north to give birth to calves in warmer waters. We start seeing whales as they head north from late April to July. Whales then start returning to the rich southern feeding grounds in the Antarctic during August to early November. The later the season, the greater chance you will see calves.
Whale watching cruises:
- Amaroo Cruises from Forster
- Reel Ocean Adventures from Tuncurry
- Moonshadow TQC cruises from Nelson Bay (if you’re staying in Tea Gardens or Hawks Nest)
Best whale watching spots on land:
Yacaaba Headland at Hawks Nest
This headland offers spectacular views. The final section of the walk to the top is very steep and unformed, its more suitable for experienced walkers. There is no formal lookout but the top is marked by an old trigonometrical survey point. The walking track begins from Bennetts Beach (also called Hawks Nest Beach) and the initial section is a well-formed path, winding its way through a tall open forest. You'll walk 6 km in total and ascend 228 metres above the glittering waters of the Pacific Ocean and Port Stephens. Allow three hours for a return journey.
Dark Point at Hawks Nest
The rocky headland of Dark Point in the southern area of Myall Lakes National Park was declared an aboriginal site of significance in 2002. This area has a rich cultural history and has been a gathering place for the Worimi people for over 4,000 years, making it well worth a visit. Walk along Dark Point walking track to the headland and take in the fresh coastal breezes. Observing the sweeping scenic views across to Broughton Island, the immense sand dunes are a great vantage point to see the migrating whales.
Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse at Seal Rocks
Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse stands on a dramatic headland east of Seal Rocks village. Sugarloaf Point is a top spot for watching whales as they migrate on their journey along the coast. There’s a dedicated grassy lookout point behind one of the cottages, with chairs to relax and take in the view. Or climb all the way to the top of the point and observe out over the cliffs below from the lighthouse itself.
Booti Hill at Pacific Palms
Starting at the Ruins Campground, walk out to the stunning Seven Mile Beach and look for the signposted track – this climbs up the northern side of Booti Hill through twisted eucalypts. There are rest spots along the way, and a small opening with a scenic view of Seagull Point right before you enter some refreshing rainforest. Eventually the track emerges onto the ridge above Lindemans Cove and joins a fire trail that leads to a small clearing. Go straight ahead for Elizabeth Beach and a terrific opportunity for an ocean dip, otherwise get the binoculars out and start looking for those flapping fins! There are also tables and a barbecue just 100m along the trail, so don’t forget your picnic.
Cape Hawke Lookout at Forster
Just five minutes from Forster, Cape Hawke Lookout offers spectacular 360-degree views along the coast from the top of a dedicated tower, perfect for whale watching. Positioned right at the northern end of the national park, this superb lookout is worth every step of the 500m hike through regenerating littoral rainforest. Pull on your walking shoes and bring some binoculars and a camera – after approximately 420 steps you’ll reach an 8.4m tower with 360-degree views of the surrounding area.
One Mile Beach sand dune at Forster
One Mile Beach is located in the residential area of Forster and is extremely popular with surfers and families. The sand dune at the northern end is an incredible vantage point to spot waving fins and water spouts out to sea. If the kids get bored, bring along a boogie board for some sand dune downhill racing.
Bennetts Head lookout at Forster
Bennetts Head is located at the end of Bennetts Head Road or by walking over the sand dune at One Mile Beach. 360-degree views of the area can be enjoyed while listening to the gentle crash of the waves on the cliffs below. This spot is easily accessible with car parking right at the lookout.
Second Head lookout at Forster
Second Head is located between Forster Main Beach and Pebbly Beach. It can be accessed by walking along the coastal Bicentennial Track or simply driving up from the end of North Street. With plenty of car parking, seating and close to restaurants and cafes, this is a large vantage point, with plenty of opportunity to make an entire day out of whale watching.
Tuncurry Beach viewing platform
Accessed from the most northern beach access track from the Tuncurry Rock Pool carpark, this small platform is a relaxing place to soak up the vastness of 9 Mile Beach while watching the passing whales and playful dolphins.
Black Head viewing platform
One of the best purpose-built vantage points along the Barrington Coast region’s pristine coastline. The solid timber platform stands 4 metres tall to ensure the protection of its littoral rainforest surrounds. Access the platform via the street behind the Black Head Surf Life Saving Club (off Main Street).
Crowdy Head Lighthouse
The panoramic views at historic Crowdy Head Lighthouse are breathtaking. Looking north you can see beyond Diamond Head and the Three Brothers mountains. To the south you can see as far as Seal Rocks. This is a great spot for whale watching as Crowdy Head has a great easterly position.
Diamond Head Loop Track
Diamond Head Loop Track combines the best of bushland hiking and spectacular coastal views to make it the perfect vantage point for whale watching.
If you're searching for Migaloo swimming passed our coastline, this 4.3 km track combined with Diamond Head Campground as a base, is the way to go.