Each year, during winter, the coastal waters of southern Queensland are treated to the migration of majestic humpback whales.

These playful giants move from the cold waters of the Antarctic to our warmer, tropical climate in preparation for calving, which gives us the chance to get up close and personal with them.

Typically, the whales show up in Hervey Bay from the end of July and some stay right through to November. While there are a number of places along our gorgeous coastline you can go to watch the whales, there are few better than Hervey Bay. If you tend to get seasick, Hervey Bay tends to be a better option as the Bay is protected by Fraser Island, making the ride significantly less rocky.

Setting sail in the early morning with a cool breeze in your face and nothing but an endless blue sea ahead of you, it’s hard not to be captivated by how beautiful Queensland is. The sun burns a soft yellow in a cloudless, blue sky while the water below the boat splashes and laps, with a crisp, coolness that makes you want to jump right in.

The local tour operators have been running whale watching tours for years, affording them the local know-how necessary to spot the whales from a distance. A puff of spray or the flip of a pectoral fin on the horizon is all they need to sight them and steer the boat over gently and respectfully.

Truth is, each whale has a personality all of its own and if they don’t feel like getting close to the boat, they won’t. That said, they’re extremely curious creatures and while it’s easy to feel like we’re the ones looking at them, they’re doing just as much looking at us. Some whales will come right up to the boat, swimming around it and popping their heads out of the water to get a good look at all the crazy people hanging off it. It turns out, a polite wave goes a long way with whales.

Being so close to the whales is incredibly humbling, mostly because it’s impossible to grasp just how large and graceful they are until you’re close enough to touch them. It’s a great way for kids to learn about the importance of conservation and, hopefully, spark an interest in marine life within them. A trip to the Fraser Coast Discovery Sphere is also a great treat for little ones, giving them the chance to find Nemo, look through microscopes and learn about the traditional owners of the land and hear their dreamtime stories.

Aside from humpback whales there’s a very good chance you’ll get to see dolphins, either swimming in the slipstream of the whales or hitching a ride in the slipstream of the boats bow. You’re also in with a shot of spotting sea turtles and possible a very shy dugong, but you’ll have to be quick!

Hervey Bay is an easy 3 1/2 hour drive from Brisbane, but it’ll feel like you’ve escaped to a tropical paradise far from home. There’s plenty to see and do in the area, with loads of great spots to eat, water sports to take part in and Fraser Island a stones throw away. When it comes to memorable experiences in a beautiful part of the world, we as Queenslanders really are spoilt to have Hervey Bay and the humpback whales in our backyard.