Witnessing majestic humpback whales as they play in Hervey Bay should be on everyone's bucket list writes Celeste Mitchell
I've heard the stories. The ones that say Hervey Bay is the best place in the world to have a close encounter with humpback whales. How they literally nudge the boats. And also what an emotional experience it can be. But it's more than just a tale. The reality of the experience is beyond anything you could ever imagine, and at least one of my travel companions is already considering a career change to become a whale watch operator.
The naming of the boat Freedom must have been the biggest no-brainer in history and I have to stop myself from “oohing” and “aahing” every time a whale freely rolls it's magnificent body alongside the boat and pops up to say hello.
Heading out daily, Freedom gets you out to the whales quickly and close to the action.
We're encouraged to wave, clap and cheer to attract the whales' attention and I don't know if it's due to all the whooping and cheering from one particular male passenger on board, but they really do stop and pay attention. At one point we have four amazing humpbacks gliding and waving their way around the boat as we run from side to side with feeble attempts to snap a winning photo.
You can't help but feel privileged to be able to share some time with these gentle giants of the sea – like you've got an exclusive backstage pass to their world stage. It's true that whales are spotted all along the Australian east coast, but it's here in Hervey Bay where they take time out to relax and play, and teach their new calves the moves.
From July to November, the bay is definitely the place to be to witness thousands of beautiful humpback whales as they make their 10,000km migration and put on a show not to be missed.
An easy three-and-a-half hour drive north of Brisbane, Hervey Bay may run at a more relaxed pace, but it's got all the elements you need for a perfect seaside getaway – gorgeous sunny days, a landscaped walkway that meanders its way along the kilometers of coastline, just calling for you to take a walk with friends or hire a natty four-seater bike to cruise along in, and perhaps more surprisingly, incredible food.
Hotspot, Coast Restaurant and Bar, is most certainly the place to be if you're looking for the best meal of your life. Positioned on the esplanade, Coast fuses views across the calm waters of the bay with a relaxed front deck, slick bar and intimate dining room.
Designed to share between two to four people, the slow roasted lamb shoulder with relish is to die for and their cocktail list has me wishing I was a local so I could slowly work my way right through it.
Perhaps my friend isn't so silly to consider a swift career change after all.
For more information go to www.queensland.com/whales
Word Count: 504
Author: Celeste Mitchell
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