Winter Whale Trailby I AM WARRNAMBOOL
As the warmer months are windswept aside for the cool change and wild shores of winter, we’re taking the heat off the Great Ocean Road’s most trodden sites and following in the tail slaps of the whales.
We know that chilly days can be a real drag, but that’s no reason to meltdown your travel plans. Winter along the Great Ocean Road isn’t all grey skies and rainy days. Rainforests come to life, the ocean adds powerful drama to the coastline, fireplaces crackle and invite cosy evenings, and crowds dwindle. And of course, our giant flippered friends return to the southern shores for their annual babymoon.
Our winter is a whale’s summer and from May to September, the giants of the deep journey from the Antarctic to the warmer waters of the Southern Ocean to breed, birth and raise their calves. This is what we call that ‘whale corridor’. It’s the only place in the world where you can watch whales nursing their young so close to the shore, and we’re not at all surprised our mammal friends love to come here and play. It is one of the most spectacular stretches of coastline in the world – if we do say so ourselves.
Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Portland offer some of the best whale spotting vantage points to watch the Southern Right, Humpback, Blue, and the occasional Orca whale breaching, chin slapping, flippering and spyhopping. And if you’re lucky enough, you might even see a few young calves splashing about, too.
But the region offers much more beyond blow holes and flipper slaps.
Sure, the limestone structures of the 12 Apostle sand London Bridge are pretty remarkable, but there are some lesser selfie-ed spots just as worthy of a snap’n’brag. Visit Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village to see the resurrection of the 19th century village brought to life with a dazzling sound and light show. Warm up at the Deep Blue Hot Springs; then brunch, lunch, wine and dine on lip-smacking local produce in one of Warrnambool’s cafés or restaurants - is there a better way to spend a winter’s day? We’ll wait.
Uncover the secrets of the Shipwreck Coast at Loch Ard Gorge and Wreck Beach in Port Campbell National Park. Give the native land animals some attention as you explore the ancient volcanic landscapes of Tower Hill. Brush up on your knowledge of the local Indigenous cultures at the Worn Gundidj Visitor Centre and make your activity trackers buzz with one of the many walking trails, like the Port Fairy Historic Town Walk. There’s also the Portland Maritime Discovery Centre, which will give you an old-school perspective of the whaling industry, and Cape Bridgewater will offer a marine-life view of a furrier kind thanks to the colony of fur seal that call it home.
Talk about a whale of a time.
Winter is no time to curl up and while the days away, why not whale the days away instead and let that adventurous spirit fly free.
DOWNLOAD THE MAP (Winter Whale Trail at a glance)
VIEW THE ITINERARY (All the juicy details and insider secrets)