Sunrise Whale Watching


Whale playing off Hamilton Island at the Hamilton Island Race Week 2010 (Photo: Andrea Francolini)

By all accounts it has been a great season for whale watching. My only whale watching experience of this year was very low key but very nice.

Having spent a special anniversary night at qualia in the Long Pavilion restaurant and in a stunning Windward Pavilion, we woke to the sunrise and a view of Whitsunday Island over the Fitzalan Passage. The morning was very still, and the water was rippling through the passage with the change of tide.

Not long after the sun had risen we saw them – a humpback mother and calf swimming slowly against the tide. They can’t have been in too much of a hurry as they stayed in the same place for 25 minutes. They were easy to spot, with their low humped backs glistening in the sun as they slowly surfaced and submerged over and over again. Finally their heads bobbed up to the surface for the last time, and they were gone.

Humpback whales use the waters around the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef to give birth and teach their calves to swim and fish. I heard a lot of reports of whale action off the northern end of the island and also on the ferry to Shute Harbour (near Airlie Beach). A whale watching cruise is definitely high on my list of things to do for next winter.