With over 1200 kilometres of coastlines in the south west, there’s plenty of possibilities for interacting with marine life. Catch humpback, southern right and blue whales along the coast, as well as dolphins, orcas, rays, seals and other ocean-dwelling animals. Read on to find out where best to spot marine life:
Australia's South West has one of the longest whale watching seasons in the world, spanning from January to December. Here are some of the best vantage points to see them from the shore:
Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse and Flinders Bay, Augusta
Cape to Cape Track, Margaret River region
Point D'Entrecasteaux, south of Northcliffe
Conspicuous CLiff, 15km east of Walpole
Ocean Beach, Denmark
Albany's Historic Whaling Station, 22km from Albany
Torndirrup National Park, near Albany
Point Ann, Fitzgerald River National Park, 65km east of Bremer Bay
Whale watching cruises depart daily (weather and season dependent) from Albany, Augusta, Busselton and Dunsborough.
The Bremer Canyon in Bremer Bay is home to the largest known pod of orcas in Australia. Expeditions from Albany run from January to early April.
With their playful, carefree nature and great intelligence, dolphins are entertaining for travellers young and old. The species most commonly encountered by visitors to the coast of Australia’s South West is the bottlenose dolphin, or Tursiops truncates.
Koombana Bay, Dolphin Discovery Centre, Bunbury
A group of around 100 to 150 dolphins use Koombana Bay as a resting area and breeding ground. Approximately 20 to 40 of these are considered residents, and many of these visit the interaction zone at the Dolphin Discovery Centre (almost) daily. An interpretive centre provides visitors with an insight into these cetacean locals and boat cruises and swim tours (seasonal) offer a closer view.
King George Sound, Albany
Bottlenose and common dolphins are regularly seen in the sheltered natural harbour of King George Sound in Albany. During the whale migration season in the winter months, dolphins often appear to be playing with and taunting the visiting humpback and southern right whales.
Blackwood River and Flinders Bay, Augusta
A small group of dolphins can often be seen in the lower reaches of the Blackwood River near Augusta. Flinders Bay, which is at the mouth of the river, is home to large pods of dolphins.
Smooth and eagle rays are most commonly sighted in the south west. Rays are usually docile and gentle if they feel unthreatened.
Many stingrays inhabit the Walpole Nornalup inlet and can be seen from a boat on the water, or from the jetties. Resident rays often slide up to the jetty in search of fish scraps at the Rest Point Caravan Park, allowing guests a good view.
Many travellers are lucky to get up close to stingrays in the clear waters of Hamelin Bay. This caravan park and boat launch area is a popular haunt for the marine creatures. The stingrays hang around here, hoping to get fish scraps from the fisherman, and will often swim over the feet of wading visitors.