Whale Tails from Cape Solander

Willing whale watcher

Whilst still waiting for Jones baby number two to make an appearance, we decided last Thursday to head down to Cape Solander in Kamay Botany Bay National Park to see if we could spot some whales on their migration North. On the way down I had been careful to set expectations with my two and a half year old that we might not see any whales (or dolphins) as they could be “hiding” underneath the water. Luckily I was wrong.

At the Cape we joined a small crowd of others, lucky enough to be free for a spot of ocean gazing on a Thursday afternoon. Unless you can get out in a suitable vessel there is a much smaller window of opportunity to watch the whales from the shore during the winter since on the trip North they travel further inshore to avoid the Eastern Australian Current whereas on the migration South back to the Antarctic they head offshore to take advantage of the favourable current.

There are quite a few spots in Sydney where you can watch from the shore including Long reef and North Head. Cape Solander is a good spot for people who are less mobile as you can drive right up to the lookout spot and gaze out to sea from your car.

The view South

However if you are taking small children it is advisable to have plenty of pairs of hands to supervise as although there is a barrier, it is not childproof and the cliff edge is only about 10 metres from the roadway. If you want to concentrate on the whale spotting you’ll need another adult around to take turns.

Superb Blue Wren or Variegated Wren?

We got out and had a look from the viewing platform where a group of volunteers are camped out counting the whales as they pass. They also were able to tell us that the majority of sightings including the ones we saw were humpbacks and they post the tally on a white board nearby.

We were lucky enough to spot about ten whales in four separate groups and got a good look at them through the binoculars. I even managed to capture a few on camera, but sadly, like my Jibbon Beach dolphins the photos are purely evidence that we were not telling tales!

What a fluke!

What I found particularly interesting was the speed at which each pod was passing us. They certainly had a bit of pace on, keen to reach the warmer waters of Queensland, which I can completely understand!

Even though you don’t get to see these beautiful creatures as clearly as you would from a whale watching vessel, for me the pleasure is in simply seeing enough of a splash to know that they are there, making their annual trip North as they have done for centuries.

Useful Information

Cape Solander is also a good starting point for a number of coastal walks South through Botany Bay National Park and into the Royal. Unfortunately for us the start to the walk had been cordoned off for some reason.

The National Park has a visitor centre which includes a discovery centre as well as an environmental education centre that is used by school groups. The visitor centre has an exhibition that depicts the first meeting between aboriginal people and the crew of the Endeavour as well as some beautiful marine art on display. There is also a small theatre that screens a short film of whale footage in the bay and surrounding coastline as well as recordings of whale songs which Tess was not completely convinced about!

The visitor centre also provides some useful information and pamphlets on whale watching and wildlife in the park, plus a gift shop and kiosk.

Getting There

Cape Solander is about one hour drive South of Sydney CBD. Parking is available at the visitor centre and a shuttle bus runs on weekends to take you to the lookout. There is also parking at the point which was plentiful on a weekday but may be crowded on a weekend.

Google Map

Other popular whale watching spots in NSW

  • Cape Byron
  • Iluka Bluff
  • Angourie Headland
  • Muttonbird Island
  • Smoky Cape
  • Tacking Point
  • Point Perpendicular
  • Seal Rocks Lighthouse
  • Boat Harbour
  • Newcastle Headlands
  • Wybung Head
  • Norah Head
  • Crackneck Lookout
  • The Skillion
  • Coppacabana
  • Gerrin Point
  • Box Head
  • Barrenjoey Head
  • Bilgola Head
  • Long Reef Point
  • North Head
  • Dobroyd Head
  • South Head
  • Bondi’s Ben Buckler
  • Stanwell Tops
  • Jervis Bay
  • Moruya Head
  • Montague Island
  • Eden
  • Boyds Tower
  • Green Cape

Links

Kamay Botany Bay National Park

Wildlife Preservation Society Australia

International Fund for Animal Welfare (Whale pages)

Australian Society of Marine Artists

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