Splitting the difference for great views at Aireys

Your next Great Ocean Road selfie is within arm’s reach at Airey’s Inlet with the completion of the Split Point lookout upgrades.

Two new viewing platforms have been constructed to sensitively complement previous works in the area, catering for increasing numbers of visitors along the Great Ocean Road. Read more

Winter whale watching

It’s that time of the year again – whale watching season, and what better way to see these magnificent creatures than numerous points across the Surf Coast.

Southern Right Whales are a spectacular view from many different locations along the coast

With whales migrating from sub-Antarctic waters (where they feed during the summer months) to the coastline of Australia to breed during winter, sightings are currently at their peak.

Between June and October every year Southern Right Whales, generally females, come within 100 metres of the Coast. Females are returning to areas along the coast to calve and allow the young to feed, gathering strength for the journey back to the sub-Antarctic waters. However, the males, yearlings and young adults remain further out to sea and are more difficult to see.

For more information click here.

It is difficult to compare anything to watching the biggest mammals in water gliding lazily along the southern coastline and there are  several points along the coach at which to view them.

What are the best whale watching vantage points?

There are many lookouts along the Surf Coast to see these magnificent creatures. For a full list of all the lookout from Torquay to Lorne click here.

For an unhindered view of passing whales make your way to Aireys Inlet to the Split Point Lookout which was built by GORCC in 2009.

The Split Point Lookout in Aireys Inlet has fantastic views of the southern coastline

Perhaps it’s in Lorne where only this week have the whales been sighted just 100 metres offshore, easily viewable from the Lorne Foreshore.

The Surf Coast Walk is another option – the 44km track offering many spots with uninterrupted, breathtaking views of the coast.

While you are on your whale watching adventures, if you need somewhere to stay whilst down on the Coast and are looking for affordable, family friendly accomodation why not check out the Torquay or Lorne Caravan Park?

Whatever your vantage point, the sight of one of these incredible creatures is a special and unforgettable experience.

Have you seen whales whilst holidaying down on the coast?  Let us know where they were spotted!

Whale watching season underway

A whale breaching at Logans beach in 2010. The photo has been provided by M.Watson, DSE, 2010

The 2011 season for Southern Right whales has commenced and the majestic creatures can now be spotted gliding along the southern coastline.

Southern Right whales migrate from sub-antarctic waters, where they feed during the summer months, to the southern coastline of Australia to breed during winter.

Senior Natural Resource Management Officer Mandy Watson from the Department Sustainability and Environment (DSE) monitors the whales.

“They come here to give birth and raise their calves, presumably because it’s warmer and there is more shelter for them.” said Ms Watson.

“They also come into the shallower waters to protect their calves from predators such as Killer whales and sharks.”

There have been two reported sightings so far this season, the first on May 10 at Logans Beach in Warrnambool and the second in Ocean Grove on May 16.

Simon Branigan Victorian National Parks Association Marine and Coastal Project Officer, said there would be many opportunities to view the whales from the Surf Coast as well.

“Driving along the Great Ocean Road is a perfect way to see whales in their natural habitat, a very special experience.

Split Point Lookout in Aireys Inlet, built by the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee in 2009, features a special cliff-edge design, allowing for an unhindered view of the passing whales.

The platform is just one example of a number of spectacular viewing locations in the region.

“There are a number of lookouts and viewing platforms for drivers to safely pull over and observe the whales,” said Mr. Branigan.

Whale watchers can identify Southern Right Whales by their distinguishing features.

Unlike other whale species they don’t have a dorsal fin; they have short square pectoral fins and a distinctive v-shaped blow rather than a single plume.

They are large fat whales with a rounded heads, strongly arched mouth lines and can grow up to 18 metres long.

The whales are black in colour with some irregular white patches on their underside and white growths called callosities on their heads, which people often mistake for barnacles.

Sightings of Southern Right whales can be reported to mandy.watson@dse.vic.gov.au or by calling (03) 5561 9961 or 0408 302 421.  

This story was written by the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee and published in the Surf Coast Time’s Going Green Column.