Whale Watching in Australia…

One of the best and most memorable experiences I had in Australia was a whale watching trip. On day nine at 625 miles into our road trip along the east coast of Australia from Sydney to Cairns we arrived at Hervey Bay. Hervey Bay is a very popular spot in Queensland for whale watching trips. Matt and I had been really indecisive about our plans and whether to go whale spotting, so a last-minute decision saw us leave Rainbow Beach and drive two hours along the coast, I am so glad we made the decision to go. Arriving just after 1pm we were very lucky to get on a trip that had spaces left at 1.30pm. We hastily booked onto it and as we had not had lunch we grabbed snacks from the van and made a run for the boat!

The trip:

We went with Tasman Venture who have two trips a day running from July to October. Cruising out of Hervey Bay our route took us past the famous Fraser Island, at 75 miles long it is the biggest sand island in the world and pretty impressive. With around four hours at sea we were lucky to witness a lot of whale action! Humpbacks and right whales make their annual migration to Antarctica from July to November and stop in Hervey Bay to rest and rear their young. Not long into the journey we spotted a mother with her calf, the guides told us that this particular whale returned every year. It was incredible to see them moving so gracefully through the water, fin slapping, breaching and tail slapping too. I learnt from a very handy whale watching leaflet that the way to tell the difference between a humpback and southern right whale at a distance is from the shape of the air they blow out. Humpbacks push air straight up and right whales create a ‘v’ shape.

The first time I saw a whale from the shoreline made me feel quite emotional and to see them so close was breathtaking. It was a pretty stormy day with the boat rolling around a lot and quite a few people were ill. Before the boat left we were all warned of the impending bad weather and given the option to do the trip another day. I was alarmed at one point to see a couple shuffling along the floor on their knees, I couldn’t understand what they were up to, until one of the crew came and helped scoop them up…they had got sea sickness in a very bad way! I also found Matt up on the starboard side of the boat a one point clinging onto to the railings for dear life, unable to move because of the wind and the unsteadiness of the boat! It was getting very rough, so we retreated below deck to warm up with a cup of tea and a slice of cake and got the best sighting of the afternoon of the mother and calf leaping out of the water together. It was a fantastic day despite the weather, if you are planning a trip to Australia make sure you go whale watching, it really is a unique experience.


In Search of the Cassowary…

A Cassowary road sign

CassowaryOn the road to Mission Beach in northeastern Australia, a lot of signs appeared indicating that cassowaries lived in the area.  I really wanted to see one of these curious creatures but being so timid I knew it might be highly unlikely.  Still, I kept my eyes peeled and waited eagerly in anticipation on the drive through the Queensland rainforest just in case I spotted one appearing out of the jungle.  Further into the journey more signs popped up stating that there had been a recent sighting in the area, this made me even more excited!  The cassowary is a flightless bird, although timid and rarely spotted they can be potentially dangerous.  Found in northeastern Australia they can grow up to 1.8 metres in height, have brightly coloured heads with a casque on top and large clawed feet.  The only one I saw was at the West Pennant Hills Koala Park in Sydney, I would have loved to have spotted one in the wild.  Arriving at my campsite in Mission Beach for the night I explored the beautiful sweeping shoreline, paddled in the warm water and watched the sunset; always on the look out for this rarely seen bird.  Retiring to the campsite for dinner and a beer I did a bit of research and discovered that cassowaries had been sighted on the beach at Etty Bay about 40 minutes drive from Mission Beach.  So the next day I decided to get up early and move further up the coast.  Etty Bay, reached by a small winding road is a beautiful secluded beach surrounded by lush tropical rainforest.  With nothing but a small campsite and a café on the foreshore it proved to be a peaceful, idyllic spot for breakfast.  I am glad I visited, but there was not a cassowary in sight!  I did come across some information on the beach indicating what to do if you come face to face with a cassowary though.  The main tip was to get something solid between you and this very large bird, such as a tree!  The illustrations on the sign made me laugh; although I was not so sure after reading it how excited I still was about coming across this potentially dangerous prehistoric looking creature.  It was time for me to move on to the next stop on my road trip, which was Cairns.  Even though I didn’t spot a cassowary I have a lot of respect for this endangered bird; and don’t forget if you ever spot one yourself, find a tree!

For more information on cassowaries take a look at the Cassowary Recovery Team website.  It has a lot of information on where to potentially see them, reporting a sighting and what to do if you come across an injured one.

For more ideas on what to do in Australia check out my other posts:

Planning a road trip on the east coast of Australia

Cool campsites on the east coast of Australia