Whale Watching in Albany

Western Australia has one of the longest whale-watching seasons in the world! The annual migration of humpback, southern right whales and the rare blue whale brings these marine creatures to Albany waters each June, kicking off whale watching season in Amazing Albany. 

From June to October, observe these gentle giants from Albany’s shores or hop on a whale-watching cruise and get up close. As the whales frolic in our sheltered bays to calve and mate, sometimes binoculars aren’t necessary – they can be seen from prime viewing spots around Albany’s coastline! Dolphins and seals are also regularly spotted in Albany’s sheltered waters. 

Southern Right Whale 

The Southern Right whale was once abundant in the waters of southern Australia but numbers were drastically reduced during intensive whaling in the 1800s. It was called a ‘right whale’ as it was the right whale to catch because of its meat and high oil content. Its habit of lingering in bays and sheltered coastal areas made it an easy target so much so that it had virtually disappeared by the beginning of the 20th century. 

It is readily distinguished from other species by the callosities, or bumps, on its head. It also has a broad back without a dorsal fin and a long arching mouth that begins above the eye. 

Fortunately, with strong protection, its numbers are gradually increasing and the species is returning to its former numbers. It is most commonly sighted in Albany later in the season, from August to October. 

Humpback Whale 

The Humpback whale is found close to coastlines, feeding on tiny shrimp-like krill, plankton, and small fish. They migrate annually from summer feeding grounds near the South Pole to warmer winter breeding waters off the North West coast of Western Australia. 

The Humpback whales most distinctive physical features are their humped back and long pectoral fins, which average one-third of their total body length. 

Humpbacks are very acrobatic, often breaching high out of the water and then slapping the water as they come back down. The best time to see them around Albany is from June to August. 

Whaling History 

After WWII, a worldwide shortage of fats led to the development of the modern whaling industry. The Albany Whaling Company commenced operations in 1947 and in 1952 was succeeded by the Cheynes Beach Whaling Company. 

Shore whaling continued at Albany until 1978 when a downturn in the industry and mounting pressure from the environment movement led to the closure of the whaling station. 

Today thousands visit during whale watching season to catch sight of the whales as they cavort around in King George Sound. Visitors also visit  Albany’s Historic Whaling Station, home of the former Cheynes Beach Whaling Company. 

Albany’s Historic Whaling Station 

The Historic Whaling Station is situated on the site of the old Cheynes Beach Whaling Company, located on the picturesque southern coast of King George Sound in Albany. Since its inception in 1980, the heritage-listed site has undergone dramatic change. The old whaling station has transformed into Discovery Bay, a truly unique attraction. 

As well as being home to Australia’s last operating whaling station, Discovery Bay now encompasses a stunning Botanic Garden of plants from Western Australia’s south coast as well as a close-up experience with friendly Australian Wildlife. Maximising its location, Discovery Bay is a showcase of amazing regional bio-diversity, yet still remains true to the original whaling display. Take a self or guided tour of the Station, explore the last Whaling Ship "The Cheynes IV" and see Australia's largest marine mammal skeleton display.

The entry to Albany's Historic Whaling Station, along with 2 other main attractions can be purchased as part of The Amazing South Coast Pass and can save you on your entry fee.

Whale Watching

Some of the best spots to catch sight of whales from shore include the Ellen Cove Boardwalk, Discovery Bay, Marine Drive lookouts, Cheynes Beach, Camp Quaranup, Gull Rock, Bald Head, and Middleton Beach. 

Be sure to bring your binoculars and wear sturdy shoes! Stay off the rocks, as the coastline is dangerous with strong waves and high tides. 

As you head down to Amazing Albany, be sure to book your whale-watching cruise by calling the Albany Visitor Centre on 6820 3700 or email stay@amazingalbany.com.au.

Image courtesy of Keith Lightbody

Book your tour here