There are probably not too many big attractions that are quite as isolated as Head of the Bight whale watching. This amazing opportunity to see dozens of whales frolicking just metres from the cliffs happens hundreds of kilometres from anywhere. Here are all the details you will need to see the whales at Head of the Bight lookout.
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During the months of May to October, hundreds of Southern Right Whales come up from the cold waters of Antarctica to calf and raise their young until they are ready to make their way south again. The babies tend to be born in June and July, and August is a great month to see them playing in the waters near the cliffs. By September the numbers are starting to thin as some of the whale start their journey’s back.
It is also possible to occasionally see Humpback Whales in the area too, although they are much less common than the Southern Right Whales.
Whale watching at Head of the Bight is #13 on my Fifty Before 50 Bucketlist.
See the rest of the list here.
Where is Head of the Bight
Head of the Bight is not a town, it is simply a location for whale watching. It is in South Australia and sits at the top of the Great Australian Bight, about 1100km from Adelaide and 1650km from Perth. Head of the Bight is incredibly isolated. The only settlement nearby is the Nullarbor Roadhouse which simply consists of a small shop, restaurant and some accommodation.
It is important to note that Head of the Bight is located on the Yalata Aboriginal Lands. There is no access to any other part of the coastline in the area.
How to get to Head of the Bight
There is really only one way to get to Head of the Bight and that’s by road. You will need a car to get around because the viewing platform itself is 12 km from the Eyre Highway and 25km from the Nullarbor Roadhouse.
The closest airport is at Ceduna, so it is possible to fly there and hire a car for the final 300km. From Ceduna, the Head of the Bight trip could be done in a single day if you did not want to stay the night nearby.
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Another option to see the whales at Head of the Bight is to take a tour. There are a few different tours available, here are two tours run by local companies that I found that might suit
- A 3-day tour from Adelaide with XploreEyre
- A day tour from Ceduna to Head of the Bight with some other stops along the way
Head of the Bight Whale Watching
When driving along the Eyre Highway it is easy to find the turn off to Head of the Bight – after all, this part of the world is called the “treeless plain” because there is not a whole lot to see for miles in every direction. The signs to Head of the Bight are a welcome distraction.
The main entrance gate is not too far from the highway, and this gate has strict opening and closing times. It will close for new visitors half an hour before the end of the day. Right before this gate is a small area for free camping – but you must be completely self-contained as there is no water or bathroom facilities available.
There is plenty of parking at the Head of the Bight Visitor Centre, even for those travelling with caravans or in RVs. Before you make your way out to the cliffs to see the whales, I suggest using the bathroom facilities because there are none further on. There is also a sheltered picnic area with a table here to sit and eat if you have brought your own food.
Inside the visitor centre is of course where admission is paid for. Tickets are currently $16AUD per adult, $13AUD for seniors, $7AUD for children 5-15, and $36AUD for a family of 2 adults and 2 children.
The Head of Bight Visitor Centre also acts as a limited cafe with coffee, ice creams, some pastries and toasted sandwiches. Unfortunately during our visit the offerings were extremely limited due to covid regulations, so if you are travelling during this time, I recommend taking your own food. There is also some great information about the whales in this area, including the skull of a whale found nearby.
As you head out to the boardwalk on the clifftops, you will notice a huge whale drawn on the path – this is the actual size of an average Southern Right Whale.
And then you are finally standing on the top of the Cliffs looking out over the Great Australian Bight, and likely seeing dozens of whales in the waters below. To one side is the start of the Bunda Cliffs which continue on for about 100km towards Western Australia. To the east are some beautiful isolated beaches with stunning white sand hills.
We visited once in the late afternoon, and again the next morning and both times we could easily see more than twenty pairs of whales at a time. Some were well off in the distance, only a spray of water every now and then alerting us to their presence, others were right below the cliffs.
We noticed that in the afternoon the whales seemed to be further out, but they were much more active. We were lucky to see a number of them breaching, others waving their tails or fins. The following morning they were much more serene, but sometimes only metres from the cliff, giving a fabulous view.
This year (2020) there was at least one white whale calf born. I have since heard that perhaps there were three of them, but I’ve not seen that confirmed. As we arrived on the first day, one mum and her white whale calf had just passed by the viewing area. We were able to get a glimpse of them in the distance, but I needed a better camera to capture a decent shot.
All up we spent 3-4 hours watching the whales, and quite possibly could have spent even more time there. Make sure you come prepared for icy winter winds and perhaps even some rain. It had rained overnight during our visit, but we managed to avoid the wet weather while we were whale watching.
As I mentioned above, there is not a whole lot of civilisation close to the Head of the Bight. If you are completely self contained then there is a free camping area just outside the main gates. For most of us though the closest place to stay is the Nullarbor Roadhouse. The Nullarbor Roadhouse has a few different accommodation options. They provide a space for caravans, RVs and camping, but also have a variety of motel rooms, including family rooms for up to six people.
The next closest town to stay in is Fowlers Bay, about 165km to the East, or Eucla, 220km to the west and over the border into Western Australia. Both offered some accommodation options.
Things to do Near Head of the Bight
Really if you are coming to Head of the Bight, you are here to see the whales, or possibly, you are travelling across the Nullarbor Plain between Western Australia and South Australia. There are not a lot of other activities in the area, but here are a couple you could consider
- Murrawijinie Caves – located 10km north of the Nullarbor Roadhouse, these caves contain Aboriginal hand paintings
- Nullarbor Links Golf Course – The world’s longest eighteen hole golf course starts at Ceduna and finishes at Kalgoorlie. Hole 5, the Dingo’s Den, is located at the Nullarbor Roadhouse.
- Whale Watching Cruise – If you want even more of the whales, you can take a cruise out from Fowler’s Bay to see them from the water
Visiting more great South Australian locations? These posts might help
Adelaide 3 Day Itinerary
Best Places for South Australia Whale Watching
Glamping South Australia – The Ultimate Guide to Camping in Style
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Josie Kelsh is South Australian, born and bred. She has lived in the state for almost her whole life, just one short stint away as a teenager with her family. Travelling all over the world has shown her exactly how amazing South Australia is to live and travel in and she uses her passion to show it to you the way a local sees it.