Watch SA’s whales this winter at the Head of Bight and Victor Harbor

Date posted: 14 May 2017

Hon Ian Hunter MLC

Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation

South Australia’s whale watching season has officially started with two Southern Right Whales recently spotted at the Head of Bight.

Between mid-May and early October each year whales can be found in large numbers along the Far West Coast Marine Park at Head of Bight and within the Encounter Marine Park at Victor Harbor and Middleton.

This year families can explore the newly upgraded Whale Trail at Encounter Bay near Victor Harbor and enjoy the Whale Time Playtime Festival at Victor Harbor on Sunday 28 May.


Whale watching has become one of the fastest growing nature-based tourism activities in the world.

In South Australia about 400,000 people take part in this activity each year, injecting more than $9 million into the economy.

The annual migration of whales to South Australian waters occurs during the cooler months, which is when they mate, give birth and nurse their young.

To help protect the whales in South Australian waters there are a range of approach limits in place. For example, boats are not permitted to enter sections of the Far West Coast Marine Park, while in the Encounter Marine Park, boats must not approach within 300m of whales in the Encounter Bay Restricted Area near Victor Harbor and personal watercraft such as jet skis are prohibited altogether.

Visitors participating in a whale watching activity are encouraged to become familiar with the marine mammal interaction restrictions. For more information visit the Marine Parks website.

Quotes attributable to Environment Minister Ian Hunter

Whale watching is a fantastic nature-based experience that our state can capitalise on as we continue to create jobs in nature-based tourism.

Last year around 250 whale sighting reports were made to the South Australian Whale Centre.

The Far West Coast Marine Park and adjoining Commonwealth Great Australian Bight Marine Reserve, as well as Encounter Marine Park, help create a safe place for the endangered Southern Right Whale’s breeding and calving.

Thanks to a collaborative effort between the Whale Centre and City of Victor Harbor the Whale Trail now has 14 upgraded educational signs between Goolwa and Waitpinga cliffs for families to learn about South Australia’s annual visitors.

Quotes attributable to South Australian Whale Centre Coordinator Amelia Graham

The first whale sightings at the Head of Bight are always exciting, and generally mean that in a few weeks’ time we will see them arrive in waters off the Fleurieu Peninsula.

Encounter Bay, off the Victor Harbor coast, is known as a breeding ground for Southern Right Whales. Last year there were two Southern Right Whales born there.

Some of the State’s best vantage points for whale watching are along the Victor Harbor coastline. Whales can give birth in water just five metres deep and we do see them close to shore.

Come along to the South Australian Whale Centre official launch of the 2017 Whale Season at Rundle Mall on Saturday 10 June, from 10am to 3pm.

Media Contact

Callie Bryson
0478 346 495