City invites guests to help with whale count

01 Jun 2018

To kick off whale-watching season today, Newcastle City Council is inviting local families and those from farther afield to come and take part in an annual whale count on Sunday 24 June.

An estimated 30,000 humpback whales will swim north to Queensland breeding grounds over the next few months in a spectacular nautical parade that's growing every year -- so much so the Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia (ORRCA) needs help counting the whales.

Humpback breaching

Newcastle's headlands and the Bathers Way coastal pathway offer great vantage points to take part in ORRCA's 18th annual one-day census, which last year saw 2,065 whales spotted, up from 233 in 2002.

"The humpback highway is a daily spectacle not to be missed at this time of year," Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

"The predominant offshore winds make it easy to see whales breaching, raising their flukes and fins and spouting in a show that's often very close to shore.

"It's definitely worth a trip to Newcastle to take part in the ORRCA's census and celebrate the wonderful resurgence of the whale population. It's now become such a permanent fixture that we're factoring whale-watching platforms into the design of our landmark 6km coastal pathway from Merewether to Nobbys."

ORRCA President Jacqueline O’Neill said the census offered families a great day out.

“Newcastle is a great coastal hub with lots of things to see and do, and this whale season, the migrating whales simply add another to a very long list," she said.

"The census day is a fantastic opportunity to take in the beautiful scenery of the coastline with the family, and also to share it with these beautiful marine mammals.

"For many, it’s the first time that they will see whales in their natural habitat.”

Those who want to take part in the census should call 02 9415 3333 or email to register and download a log sheet at

This year ORRCA census participants will be stationed at King Edward Park, Redhead Bluff Cape Byron, Port Macquarie, Forster, Seal Rocks, Boat Harbour, Norah head, Bateau Bay, The Skillon, Terrigal, Copacabana, Palm Beach, Bilgola, Sydney's North Head, Vaucluse, Sydney's South head, Cape Solander, Wottamola, Kiama, Jervis Bay, Tuross Heads, Narooma and Cheynes Beach WA.

Once again this year, Council is staging the Whale Tales Discovery Talks at Bar Beach Lookout, where educator Jeannie Lawson will talk all things whales while watching the migration. Four separate sessions will be held at 10.30am, 11.30am, 12.30pm and 1.30pm
On Saturday 30 June.