This World Heritage-listed island lies off the Queensland coastline, at the start of the Great Barrier Reef, and is a 'must do' on any Australian tour – for humans and for Humpbacks! These giants of the deep (and the men and women who track them) are the star attractions on Hervey Bay's event calendar and visit like clockwork from 1 August until the end of October each year – it's the perfect wildlife experience to add to your itinerary during your east coast visit and the perfect accompaniment to your Fraser Island adventure.
Each year an estimated 4000 to 5000 whales take time out of their migration - down the eastern Australian coastline - to wallow in the warm waters on Fraser Island's lee side. These calm waters provide natural protection and allow the Humpbacks to socialise, perform, and perhaps take a little Hervey Bay holiday themselves, before setting off on the long journey back to Antarctica.
Kingfisher Bay Resort, on Fraser Island's western side, is just a short cruise away from Platypus Bay and the Humpback action and can help put whale watchers in the thick of the action.
The resort's Head Ranger, Colin Anderson, said researchers believed there were only two places in the world where whales took time out of their migration schedule – one is in Hervey Bay, the Australian whale watch capital; the other Hawaii.
"There's no doubt the calm waters off Fraser Island offers some of the most jaw-dropping whale watching in the world's – that's why it keeps popping up in those ubiquitous 'best experience' lists," he said. "And that's why visitors come back year after year – it's quite a show."
Skipper Brian Perry, who captains the daily whale watching excursions from Kingfisher Bay Resort, said Humpbacks were the most surface active of all the whales and were extremely inquisitive – which made great viewing.
"Under marine park law, there is a 100m exclusion zone on tourist boats approaching the whales, so we encourage our guests to wave their arms and make some noise and the whales come to us."
"It's a win-win for the guests who get up close to some of these 40-tonne adult Humpback and their 4.5m long newborns – and the Humpbacks get to indulge in a spot of people watching," he said.
The resort's Fraser + Whales package includes two nights‟ hotel accommodation with breakfast, half-day whale tour and return ferry transfers and is priced at $379*per person (twin share) or $121* per child when sharing with an adult.
*Some booking conditions apply.
Daily Whale Watch trips cost $115AUD for adults and $70AUD for children. Each ticket sold includes a levy which assists local marine park management.
For information and bookings contact your local travel agent or visit www.kingfisherbay.com.
Watch Out Whales
Typical Humpback surface behaviours include:
Spy hop – occurs when the whale rises vertically in the water with their eyes just out of the water. The whale maintains this position for a while, before slipping beneath the surface.
Blow – A distinctive vapour cloud visible above the surface, caused by the Humpback exhaling through its two blow holes.
Head Lunge – The whale‟s knobbly head breaks the surface and the mammal falls forward into the water.
Footprint - When a whale dives, the up-thrust of its tail drives water toward the surface. On the surface this can be seen as a round, calm area of flat water, known as a whale's footprint.
Pectoral slap – The humpback has a distinctive body shape, with unusually long pectoral fins. During the pectoral slap, the whale rolls onto its side and slaps its fin against the side of the water.
Breach – This happens when a whale propels two-thirds of its stocky body out of the water – then falls back with an almighty splash. Often times the whale can clear two-thirds of its considerable body out of the water.
Fraser Island is just offshore from Hervey Bay on Australia‟s east coast and Kingfisher Bay Resort passenger and vehicle ferry services depart daily from River Heads (secure parking is available). Virgin Blue and QantasLink have direct flights to Hervey Bay from major city centres. The resort operates airport connections.
More About The Resort
Kingfisher Bay Resort - on Queensland‟s World Heritage Listed Fraser Island – includes 109 self-contained two and three-bedroomed villas; Kingfisher holiday houses for bigger groups; the 152-room Mercure Kingfisher Bay Resort – Fraser Island hotel; as well as touring and marine businesses.