8 July 2023

Five places for Wollongong landlubbers to spot whales this bumper season

| Dione David
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Hill 60

Wollongong residents are spoilt for choice of places to whale watch. Photo: Wollongong City Council.

Once upon a time, my husband surprised me with a Whale Watching tour just off Sydney Harbour.

It was a seemingly unremarkable day, but the skipper did laughingly warn that once we left the relative protection of the harbour it “might get a touch choppy”.

The first signs of trouble hit the moment the bay was behind us. Apparently “a touch choppy” is when the upside becomes the downside and the skipper gets to say “Feeding the fish are we?” as the vast majority of passengers say goodbye to breakfast.

Oh, and we didn’t see any whales.

READ ALSO Local ‘doggos’ reveal the best spots in the ‘Gong for a walk

Not to put the kibosh on what I am sure is a wonderful experience for many, especially if you have great sea legs – it’s just not for everyone.

But the Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia (ORRCA) has announced a bumper whale season this year, and it seems unfair that some of us miss out on witnessing these majestic mammals just because we morph into Emily Rose on a boat.

READ ALSO Bumper season for beautiful ‘beasts’ heading north to warmer waters

Fortunately, Wollongong City Council has named the best spots for the Illawarra’s landlubbers to spot whales.

The trick is to scan the ocean for whales with the naked eye to look for the telltale “blow” before getting the binoculars out.

As we approach the humpback whale migration peaks (mid-winter) and they migrate north along the coast from Antarctica in search of warmer waters, grab your binoculars, sun protection, warm clothes and a comfy, collapsible chair and settle into one of these five spots.

Bald Hill aerial

Bald Hill North might not be up close as personal, but the view more than makes up for it. Photo: Wollongong City Council.

Bald Hill

On a clear day, the views down the coastline from Bald Hill are spectacular. Looking to the east, there’s plenty of scope to see whales. And while you mightn’t be as close to the action as in other Wollongong locations, the vista more than compensates.

Sandon Point aerial

There’s plenty of scope to spot whales north and south from stunning Sandon Point. Photo: Wollongong City Council.

Sandon Point

From here you can look both to the north and south to get a closer look at whales. There are a couple of picnic tables on the top of the hill, so you can bring lunch and make a day of it.

Bulli Beach leisure park aerial

This headland offers opportunities to spot whales up and down the coast. Photo: Wollongong City Council.

Waniora Point/Bulli Beach

Offering stunning views up and down the coast, this headland offers the bonus of being right on the Grand Pacific Walk’s shared path. In between watching for whales, nearby cafes offer coffee and a bite to eat and a recently refurbished playground allows kids to burn off some energy.

Flagstaff Hill aerial

Its iconic lighthouse makes Flagstaff Hill instantly recognisable. Photo: Wollongong City Council.

Flagstaff Hill

Instantly recognisable thanks to the lighthouse, this spot offers views along the coast to the north and towards the steelworks in the south. Not only is it an easy pick for whale watching, there are plenty of refuelling options around, from fish and chips to ice cream.

Hill 60 aerial

A panoramic view over Hill 60. Photo: Wollongong City Council.

Hill 60

Wollongong City Council says if you pick one spot for whale watching, make it this one. With the view over Fisherman’s Beach and towards the port on the north, and stretching out over Port Kembla Beach and towards the Five Islands to the south, you’ll have plenty of scope for spotting whales. But on top of that, the area has significant cultural value to the Aboriginal community and is also recognised as a key location in the country’s military history for the role it played in the nation’s coastal defence network.

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