Whale Watching on the Fleurieu Peninsula

Mid-winter is living up to its reputation as being prime time for whale watching on the Fleurieu in South Australia, with daily sightings of whales and their calves.

Whales can and have been spotted all along the Fleurieu coast, but take it from a local, the best likelihood of seeing these beautiful creatures is from Victor Harbor through to Goolwa Beach.

The SA Whale Centre keeps a daily log of sightings by trained volunteers, who report every time they spot a whale and give the location so others can hopefully enjoy their visits too. Many of the whales are repeat visitors, returning to these waters year after year.

Of course being wild creatures you can never guarantee that they will stick around in the same place for long, but if you’re in the area and there has been a sighting, at least it gives you a chance to get to the spot and possibly see them.

There are a few well known areas to look for whales and I’ve found a few spots where I can regularly see them. The Encounter Bay area, which takes in the waters between Newland Head and the Murray Mouth is a calving area and each year it is thought around 5 calves are born in these waters. The markings on the adult whale’s heads, and those of the calves are noted so that data on them can be kept each year when they return.

The volunteers who report the daily sightings can then confidently name which whale and calf is in which area. I have found the most reliable stretch of coast is from Basham Beach at Port Elliot, all the way through to Middleton Point, at Middleton Beach.

Whenever whale sightings are reported they naturally draw a crowd, with weekends and school holidays especially bringing lots of traffic and people to the area. Who can blame them! In past years before I lived in the area I too would grab the family and drag them down the coast in the hope of seeing whales, sometimes we were lucky, other times not.

Now though with the luxury of living close by, I usually wait for off peak times and just take a short drive to a couple of favourite viewing spots. So if you’re ever in the area, I’ll let you in on a few tips.

In Middleton, take Mindacowie Terrace off the Port Elliot Road, which runs next to the Middleton Tavern and this will take you to Middleton Point, also a favourite spot for surfers. There’s only one way to get to the car park area, by taking Dover Road and then it curves around to Ocean Parade. You can park and view here and the bonus is that even if there aren’t any whales, there will always be surfers.

If you continue along Ocean Parade, a one way road, there are a number of spots to pull over and park on the roadside if you see a whale. This area is quite elevated so it can be easier to see a whale if there’s one around. Keep driving along Ocean Parade and it will wind back to Mindacowie Terrace. From here turn left onto Seaview Avenue and it will lead to the next best secret spot.

Take Surf Street on the left, which is a dead end and leads down to another surfer’s carpark and the beach. From here you can walk along the bike / walking track in either direction, one way leading back to Ocean Parade and the other way leads to Basham Beach. Keep your eyes peeled anywhere along the walking track and again from an elevated position you may see whales. Parking here is a lot less crowded than the Basham Beach carpark which has a lot of signage directing people there.

One last spot to try is to get back on the Port Elliot Road and drive towards Port Elliot before turning into the Port Elliot Holiday Park entrance road. As you drive through, there will be a parking area on the left to leave your car and take the walking track down through the Ratalang Conservation Reserve, to Sandy Bay. This bay is at the end of Basham Beach and if you walk around the headland a short way you’ll see Frenchman Rock, a formation in the water which is often named as an area where whales are sighted too.

This area also has a surf break known as Chicken Run, a point break which can be popular in winter through to August. It’s a sheltered area good for beginners, but there are rocks to watch for.

Even if you aren’t lucky enough to spot whales you’ll probably see mad keen surfers around any of these areas, and at least you can get a good walk in nature while you’re at it.

Enjoy the journey and good luck,


10 thoughts on “Whale Watching on the Fleurieu Peninsula

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s