Whale watch: Ocean giants spotted south of Mackay
WHALE enthusiasts should have their eyes peeled in coming weeks as the ocean giants make their way up the Queensland coast.
Residents along the Capricorn Coast spotted hump back whales for the first time this year last week in what was an unexpected early start to the annual migration season.
Volunteer Marine Rescue Mackay radio operator Col Bath said while he had not heard of any whale sightings yet, if were in Yeppoon last week, they'd definitely be off the Mackay coast this week.
Mr Bath said the southern sightings come as a timely reminder for local boaties.
"If you are going out in the dark, be careful," Mr Bath said.
"Last year we had a few boats bump into whales and fortunately there was no bad outcome. There are boats heading out earlier and earlier in the dark now and with more whales around, it's not a case of if something will happen, but rather when.
"For safety reasons, boats should log on with VMR when they head out and log off when they return. Because if you don't log on, hit a whale and overturn, you could be out there and we won't know."
If you hope to catch a glimpse of a whale cruising past Mackay, here are the best places to watch from the shore:
Constructed last year, Lamberts lookout overlooks Lamberts Beach, the Cumberland Islands and Slade Point.
This is a popular viewing platform to see the migrating whales as they breach and play off the coast of Mackay.
Easy parking is available at the lookout and shady areas, picnic tables, play equipment and barbecues are all available at Ram Chandra Park beside Lamberts Beach.
Eimeo Pacific Hotel
While many of the spots on this list are somewhat out of the way, you can sip on a schooner or grab a meal while scouting for humpbacks if you set up shop at the Eimeo Pacific Hotel.
You'll find the hotel, often mentioned for its million dollar view, at 1 Mango Ave, Eimeo, about 20 minutes drive north of Mackay.
Hay Point lookout
Hay Point's one of the world's biggest coal ports, but that doesn't seem to worry the humpbacks making their pilgrimage past year after year.
The lookout is on Horyu Maru Dr at Hay Point. Drive south from Mackay and turn into Hay Point Rd from the Bruce Hwy and follow the signs. The lookout is about 40km from Mackay.
Campwin Beach lookout
Found about 10 minutes drive north-east of Sarina, Campwin Beach is one of two main swimming/surf beaches in the area, and another great spot for whale watching.
To get there follow Sarina Beach Road to Campwin Beach, before taking Cooper or Westcott Avenue up to the lookout.
Cape Hillsborough lookout
About 50km north-west of Mackay, you'll find Cape Hillsborough National park, where several lookouts can be accessed (some require a walk).
From Mackay, travel north on the Bruce Hwy and turn right into Seaforth Rd. Keep going and turn right into Cape Hillsborough Rd. It is then 10km to the entrance.