Where are the whales? This is the question on everyone’s mind since we’re on a whale watching cruise in Port Stephens with Moonshadow Cruises

It’s been over an hour since we left Nelson Bay and there is no sign of these elusive creatures. Don’t get me wrong. We’re having a great time cruising the beautiful waterways of Port Stephens. The catamaran is modern and spacious and safe enough that I don’t have to worry about my child falling overboard. The crew is friendly and helpful offering complimentary tea and biscuits and offering advice and ginger tablets to a passenger who feel a bit seasick in the two metre swell.

We’ve already been visited by three inquisitive dolphins who want to ride the waves beside the boat. We also get up close to a colony of seals and their pups sunning themselves on the rocks on Cabbage Tree Island.


It’s just that the whales are nowhere to be seen and we start to wonder if we’ll be returning for another cruise. (FYI Moonshadow cruises will give passengers a free return cruise on stand-by basis if no whales are spotted).

The crew advise us that there are humpback whales around having spotted them earlier in the week. It’s estimated that 10,000 humpback whales pass Port Stephens on their annual 12,000 kilometre migration. They head north between May and August and then head back south between August and mid November with their newborn calves in tow.

Suddenly, there’s a spray of water into the air and we spot a whale. And then another. There they are, two medium sized humpback whales who surface and then flip up their tales diving down into the water.


There’s no activity for a few minutes and we wonder if that’s it for our whale spotting. However, it’s just a prelude to the main entertainment as these two whales then proceed to put on a spectacular show that has all of the passengers cheering.

The two whales spend the next half an hour demonstrating their acrobatic abilities. There’s over 20 breaches, lots of tail slaps and at one point one whale breaches so close to the boat, water sprays my husband and daughter.


Up close, you can see how large these magnificent creatures are. Ranging from 14 to 18 metres and weighing up to 50 tonnes, there’s a loud slapping noise when these animals emerge and splash back down on the water. It’s an incredible show and one that we’ll never forget.

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The whales finish their show and dive down under the water and we embark back to Nelson Bay. On our return trip home, we discuss our cruise and admire the photos while enjoying complimentary home-made hot soup. My daughter is busy with crayons and a whale activity sheet and jumps at the chance to get her photo taken in Captain Chris’s wheelhouse.


It’s with big smiles that we step off from the boat in Nelson Bay and vow that we’ll be back for another cruise soon.

The Mummy Project travelled courtesy of Moonshadow Cruises.

Moonshadow Cruises will be offering whale watching cruises until early November. Book online for a 20% discount. Moonshadow Cruises also offers dophin cruises, Newcastle harbour cruises and combined 4WD adventures.