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Hervey Bay Whale Heritage Area
Hervey Bay

Hervey Bay Whale Heritage Area

Visitor centres or museums
Visitor centres or museums
Boat-based wildlife tours
Celebratory events or festivals
Visual or performance art

Known as the Whale Watching Capital of Australia, Hervey Bay is famous for the beautiful beaches and abundant marine life along its coastline.

An increasing population of Southern humpback whales use the area as a ‘whale nursery’ for resting and socialising, with multiple mothers and calves joining together before they undertake their long migration back to Antarctica.

The pride and sense of connection that local residents and businesses feel with regard to whales is clear to see throughout the town.

Top photo: Fraser Coast Tourism & Events

Species and habitats

More than 20,000 humpback whales migrate through this area each year between July to November, with more than 8,000 of them using the calm waters of Hervey Bay to rest and nurse their new-born calves as they make their return trip to Antarctica.

The area also hosts various other cetaceans, including the endangered Australian humpback dolphin, bottlenose dolphins, minke whales, false killer whales and increased sightings of Southern right whales.

Gallery: 1.Fraser Coast Tourism&Events, 2.Fraser Coast Tourism&Events, 3.Unknown, 4.Fraser Coast Tourism&Events, 5.Fraser Coast Tourism&Events, 6.Fraser Coast Tourism&Events, 7.Fraser Coast Tourism&Events, 8.Clive Martins, 9.Liz Carter, 10.Fraser Coast Tourism&Events.

Threats

The threats faced by cetaceans in Hervey Bay include global issues like climate change that can affect the habitats and food sources of cetaceans. These changes may disrupt migration patterns.

In addition, localised threats such as increasing recreational boats and vessel strikes can result in serious injuries or fatalities.

Did you know?

Hervey Bay became the world’s first certified Whale Heritage Area in October, 2019.

Migaloo, the famous white humpback whale, has been sighted a number of times in Hervey Bay in past seasons.

Special Management Declarations can be made when Migaloo is in the area. Boats and prohibited vessels cannot approach within 500m of a predominantly white whale and aircraft cannot fly within 610m. This applies to all whales that are more than 90% white.

Hervey Bay is one of the few places in the world where multiple mothers and calves join together in a single pod.

More than 20,000 humpback whales migrate through this area each year.

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Why visit a Wildlife Heritage Area?

Trustworthy

Visitors to Wildlife Heritage Areas can take part in outstanding wildlife watching experiences that put wildlife first. Staying in a Wildlife Heritage Area helps local communities invest in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, benefitting community well-being and driving forward sustainable practices.

Designated for excellence

Communities achieve Wildlife Heritage Area designation by playing a central role in protecting wild animals and their habitats. With support from responsible travel organisations and wildlife experts, these communities are committed to help turn the tide on biodiversity loss and the climate crisis, adopt a zero tolerance for wildlife suffering in tourism, and advocate for positive change through a willingness to collaborate.

Stories

Human-cetacean conflict solutions

Human-cetacean conflict solutions

The Hervey Bay whale watch fleet and the community prides itself on being a site with usually premium conditions for whale or dolphin watching, where the welfare of the animals is ultimately respected through close observance of regulations.

Commercial whale watching in K’gari Waters started in 1987. Immediately, the Queensland Government implemented a process to establish...

Education and research

Education and research

Many research organisations and universities have studied whales in Hervey Bay since the 1980s and continue to do so, including The Oceania Project, Pacific Whale Foundation, University of Queensland, Sydney University, Southern Cross University and University of the Sunshine Coast.

Australia’s two foremost humpback whale researchers, Drs Trish and Wally Franklin from The...

Cultural heritage (new/modern)

Cultural heritage (new/modern)

Hervey Bay has a well-established community engagement programme that has been evolving over many years, with several cultural events held annually during the whale season. The annual Hervey Bay Whale Festival in July/August is a month-long celebration of the whales that visit these waters.

This festival includes the ‘Blessing of the K’gari Waters (Hervey Bay) Whale Watch...

Cultural heritage (traditional)

Cultural heritage (traditional)

Dolphins are the native totem of the Hervey Bay Butchulla People and were called Boothu or Yul’u or Djamarmee.

The clans are not permitted to hunt, harm or eat the dolphins and the dolphins repaid this respect by assisting the Indigenous people with their fishing. Dolphins would round up schools of mullet, confusing them into a huddle and steering them towards land, into the...

Sustainability

Sustainability

Hervey Bay benefits from excellent management of the ocean environment and supports and enhances sustainability initiatives and other activities that benefit the environment and wildlife.

Annual beach clean-ups highlight ocean pollution and encourage people to adopt sustainable practices to preserve the environment. The clean-up activities also draw media coverage, helping to...

Collaboration for the sake of cetaceans

Collaboration for the sake of cetaceans

The steering committee for Hervey Bay WHA has observed that working towards and achieving accreditation has brought together all the various stakeholders from the community in an authentic way. Prior to this, there was little to no communication between the whale watching fleet and other stakeholders.

During a speech at the World Whale Conference held in Hervey Bay in 2019,...

Conservation

Conservation

After a three year-trial of swim-with humpback whales, the activity commenced in Hervey Bay in 2014. Strong rules of engagement were implemented and a self-regulated Code of Ethics was adopted by the whale watching industry. In Australia, it is illegal to conduct swim-with activities when there is a calf in the whale pod.

It’s a niche market with a small percentage of revenue...

Explore experiences

Hervey Bay Visitor Information Centre

Hervey Bay Visitor Information Centre

Visitor centres or museums

The attractive accredited Visitor Information Centre is the shop window to this diverse region, offering information on exploring K’gari, the Southern Great Barrier Reef and the Sandy Straits.

The Visitor Information Centre is the proud winner of numerous Customer Service Awards. These have been achieved through the work of their dedicated and well-informed team, who pride themselves in assisting regional visitors to achieve the ultimate Fraser Coast Experience.

Photo: Tourist Information Centre mural, Fraser Coast Tourism & Events

Hervey Bay Regional Gallery

Hervey Bay Regional Gallery

Visual or performance art

Hervey Bay Regional Gallery (HBRG) is a destination gallery, featuring a curated programme hosting national touring exhibitions alongside our own internally curated shows, focusing on hyper-local themes with a universal meaning for contemporary audiences, local and visiting alike. 

HBRG is building a national profile based on an exciting exhibition program alongside a number of strategic initiatives including the Fiona Foley Residency and followed by Girra: The Fraser Coast National Art Prize in 2023.

Photo: Fraser Coast Tourism & Events