The picturesque town of Augusta in Western Australia is a sanctuary and meeting place for two of the greatest whale species found in Australian waters, the Humpback and Southern Right Whales. The arrival of winter signals the beginning of an epic migration as the largest population of Humpbacks in the world leave Antarctica and begin their long migration to warmer waters to reach important calving grounds. Whale watching in Augusta begins in late May when the very first arrival of Humpbacks can be found in the sheltered waters of Flinders Bay, for many this is their very first opportunity to rest after 3,000 kilometres of open ocean travel from Antarctica!
The very first arrivals in Flinders Bay are the mothers and calves from the previous season. After a year of living together they are making their way north as mum teaches her final lesson of the northern migration to her yearling calf before they separate ways. The second wave of arrivals are the boisterous teenagers and young adults who are on the verge of being mature breeding age adults… but not quite there just yet! These younger whales are full of energy and focus their attention on learning from the older whales upon their arrival.
We can always tell when the mature age adults begin to visit as Augusta comes alive with the spectacular surface behaviour of competing males. The intense competition pods of up to twenty male Humpbacks chasing after and competing for access to a female is the most intense energy sighted during the epic Humpback migration. The females will rest in Flinders Bay and call in the males with pectoral fin slapping and it can take only minutes on some days for three or more males to come charging across the bay to meet her. These intense heat runs are most regularly sighted from June to July during the peak of the northern migration.
August is a special time of the year as the heavily pregnant female Humpbacks are the last to make the northern migration. They have spent every last moment possible feeding in Antarctica to prepare themselves for the trip ahead and perfectly time their due date with a safe arrival in the warm northern waters of Western Australia. Joining them in Flinders Bay is the magnificent Southern Right Whales who arrive heavily pregnant and begin making themselves at home as Augusta will be their nursery grounds until mid October. The nursery grounds for Southern Right Whales are vital to the recovery of this endangered species with just over 2,000 individuals believed to be in Australian waters.
The Augusta whale watching season is from late May through to the end of August with the peak of Humpback Whales sighted in June/July. The best time for Southern Right Whales is August as we see the arrival of many mums to be and brand new calves being born. We have highlighted some recommendations when planning your experience to make the most of your time whale watching in Augusta during the whale watching season.
- We recommend allowing flexibility when planning your whale watch experience in Augusta to accommodate for any changes to departure due to weather.
- Please prepare with motion sickness medication if you are susceptible or have not had experience on the ocean before. The Augusta Pharmacy has products available and please speak with their health care professional.
- Augusta is a beautiful town and after your whale watch experience you will have plenty of time to include a visit to the local beaches, lighthouse and enjoy a meal or coffee at one of the local restaurants and cafes.
- The Augusta Boat Harbour is located halfway between the township and Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. There is plenty of free parking and restrooms located at this state of the art facility.
- Experiences depart daily with morning or afternoon options available. The best time of day to see whales is completely dependant on which whales are visiting Flinders Bay at that time! The behaviours that we sight can be seen at any time of the day and in different weather.
- Dress warmly and if rain is forecast a poncho is recommended. Blankets and warm inside areas are available onboard Whale Watch Western Australia.