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Top 10 whale watching hotspots in NSW national parks

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Wild About Whales
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Cape Byron Lighthouse, Cape Byron State Conservation Area. Photo: D.Young/OEH

Whale watching in NSW can be made all the more memorable if you’re in the right place at the right time. So we know the right time – with the whale watching season being from 1 June to 30 November - but how about the right place?

Location, location, location. It can make all the difference when it comes to witnessing this spectacular wonder of nature from land.

NSW national parks make up some of the best spots for whale watching. Here’s our top 10 hot spots:

1. Cape Byron Lighthouse, Cape Byron State Conservation Area
This is the most easterly point on the Australian mainland. Known for its iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse, it’s a brilliant location for whale watching on the Far North Coast, at Cape Byron State Conservation Area. The walking track offers panoramic views across the ocean and the hinterland. Daily tours include a trip to the top of the lighthouse where you can take advantage of one of the best whale spotting vantage points in the country.

2. Wilsons Headland, Yuraygir National Park
Wilsons Headland walk is a coastal cliff top walk on the NSW north coast between Yamba and Coffs Harbour and nestled in Yuraygir National Park is boasts the state’s longest stretch of undeveloped coastline. The headland walk with barrier-free platforms and magnificent beach and ocean views provides some of the greatest opportunities to view the whale migration.

3. Eastern Side lookout, Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve
No visit to Coffs Harbour is complete if you haven’t been to Eastern Side lookout, in Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve. With spectacular views from the coast to islands, it’s a great spot for watching birds up close and is also an important Aboriginal place, harbouring stories of the Dreaming. You can join the Discovery rangers for an informative and exciting whale watching experience with the powerful viewing scope and binoculars helping you to get a better view of these awesome marine mammals.

4. Smoky Cape Lighthouse, Hat Head National Park
Hat Head National Park offers beaches, rainforest and wetlands, but by far the crowning glory are the Smoky Cape Lighthouse which offers stunning coastal views. You can watch the whales frolicking near the rocks just below the light house and take your pick of walking tracks. Nearby at the Trial Bay Gaol in Arakoon National Park, you can enjoy a guided whale watching activity with parks rangers throughout July.

5. Tomaree Head Summit Walk, Tomaree National Park
Take the invigorating short walk to the summit of Tomaree Head in Tomaree National Park, 161 metres above the Port Stephens entrance. Whale watching in Port Stephens is great from up here – and you may also see the world’s only nesting sites for the endangered Gould’s petrel.

6. North Head, Sydney Harbour National Park
The North Head lookout provides inspiring views across Sydney Harbour National Park towards South Head and is one of the best spots for Sydney whale watching. Head to Fairfax Lookout for a great view of the whales and equally impressive views of the harbour. Join Parks Discovery volunteers for whale watching at North Head on weekends throughout June and July.

7. Cape Solander, Botany Bay National Park
Cape Solander is another great spot in Sydney within Botany Bay National Park. From your viewing point high above the ocean on sandstone cliffs you’ll often see whales come as close as 200m off the coast. This is also the site where the annual whale ‘count’ takes place.

8. White Sands Walk and Scribbly Gum Track, Jervis Bay National Park
Whale and dolphin watching are a thriving industry in Jervis Bay National Park. White Sands Walk and Scribbly Gum track are interconnecting walking tracks which together create a beautiful – and easy – loop walk. You’ll pass several glorious white sand beaches, be treated to incredible bay views at various points along the track and enjoy bird watching and glimpses of dolphins too.

9. Montague Island Lighthouse, Montague Island Nature Reserve
Montague Island walking track reveals the lighthouse against a dramatic island backdrop with 360 degree views taking in the East Coast of Australia. The walk leads past penguin breeding boxes, and whales, dolphins, seals and migratory birds are all regular visitors – Montague Island Nature Reserve is a wildlife lover’s paradise.

10. Green Cape Lightstation, Ben Boyd National Park
No wrap up of NSW whale watching is complete without Eden. Located on the far south coast of NSW, it’s home to the Davidson Whaling Historic Site. The Green Cape Lightstation at the nearby Ben Boyd National Park is an historic site built in 1883 and perched on the edge of the peninsula. Take a tour to explore the lightstation which overlooks Disaster Bay, the site of many shipwrecks, and the passing whale migration.

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