Whale Watching FAQ


We keep fins and masks and snorkels on our vessel to offer the chance for people to get in the water around Yanks Jetty if the conditions allow. If you have your own gear, feel free to bring it. We absolutely cannot guarantee a chance for snorkeling on our whale watching tours. Sometimes, the conditions make it unsafe to beach the vessel or pull the vessel alongside Yanks Jetty, were we would snorkel from. Additionally, we need to keep to a schedule to return to Townsville at a reasonable time, and if the conditions make for a longer transit or if we spend too long with the whales, this will remove the time window available for snorkeling. Finally, please understand that we do not ever have enough time during our whale watching tours to offer snorkel lessons. Breathing from a snorkel with your face underwater is a strange sensation and it takes time to get comfortable using the fins, mask and snorkel, as well as constant supervision from an in water instructor. Snorkeling is only available for those people already familiar with snorkeling and are ready to simply throw the gear on and jump in. Snorkeling is a RISKY activity is only to be undertaken by medically fit people and will be done at your own risk. People with medical conditions such as asthma or heart related issues must inform the skipper of their condition before entering the water.

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What is the itinerary for the day?

  • 07:15 Pick up behind the Holiday Inn (sugar shaker) in Townsville City.
  • 09:45 Launch vessel and safety brief.
  • 10:15 Super fast fun transfers in the 100hp comfortable, safe and modern RIB to the calm waters of the Palm Island Group.
  • 11:00 Cruise along the sheltered bays of Pelorus Island and Orpheus Island searching for humpback whales.
  • 12:00-12:30 Picnic lunch on Yanks Jetty (Orpheus Island), where you can feed the fish and snorkel (see note below) in calm conditions (time and conditions dependent).
  • 13:00 Cruise around Fantome Island if the wind direction is suitable.
  • 14:30 Return to Lucinda
  • 15:00-18:00 Return to Lucinda then back to Townsville with a big smile! (19:00 is our latest return time to Townsville, if we happen to spend too long with the whales or the tide wont let us back in on time! if you need to be back by a certain time, let our guide know)

PLEASE NOTE, this itinerary is an example of an average day, but is certainly dependent on a wide variety of factors. We are at the mercy of weather and tides and other factors including whether or not the whales want to be seen! Additionally, we do not have time during whale watching tours to offer snorkel lessons. Snorkeling is only available for those people already familiar with snorkeling and are ready to simply throw the gear on and jump in. Snorkeling is a RISKY activity is only to be undertaken by medically fit people and will be done at your own risk. People with medical conditions such as asthma or heart related issues must inform the skipper of their condition before entering the water.

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Meet the marine biologist/ skipper

Chris Mirbach completed his masters of marine biology from James Cook University. Since finishing his degree he has worked as a research scientist, scientific diver and as a skipper and/or first mate aboard various research vessels. He is a published first author and a co-author on multiple scientific papers in marine biology journals. Additionally, he has a hand full of photographs published in magazines and online publications, including the BBC, Nature and Science AustralAisa. All he really cares about in the end, though, is to share the Great Barrier Reef and the humpback whales with everyone he can and spend more time on or under the water!


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Will my stuff get wet!?

Yes and no… It is a small speed boat, which is great for covering lots of ground to find the whales, but when crossing to the sheltered waters of the Palm Islands from the mainland on a windy/choppy day, which is most days, there might be some sea spray. On nicer days, this is not an issue. HOWEVER, we provide spray jackets, a dry bag (no guarantees) and also have multiple compartments on the boat that are sealed and dont usually get wet… so your cameras, towels, dry clothes and what have you, should be nice and dry, weather or not… HOWEVER, everyone is responsible for their own personal gear, the skipper/ marine biologist is a bit busy driving the boat and trying to find whales! Also, you may get a bit wet if the whales get really curious and come right up to our boat. As you are only a meter off the water, if a humpback comes up to breathe next to us, you might cop a bit of their spray as they take a breath :)

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How do we get transported from Townsville?

Transport from Townsville is currently via a troop carrier toyato land cruiser. It seats 11 but since we keep our maximum to 6 to 8 guests, its quite comfortable. There is a bit of a step up to get into it, since its a raised troop carrier, but we bring a step stool to make getting into the troopy easier. She’s an old girl, and quite loud, but runs like a dream. This is far North Queensland after all… have a look below.

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Can I charter the whole boat for whale watching?

Yes! If you would like to have the boat for just your group, you can hire the whole boat (on days that don’t already have bookings) for only $900. This can, in the end, save you lots of money if you have 4 or 5 paying adults and a couple of kids! Our vessel maximum of 6 can be discussed on a case by case basis in order to add one extra spot if there are only 4 adults and the rest of the group is kids. Grab some family friends and email us about whole boat charter at info@affordablechartersgroup.com.au .

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How many people can you take?

Currently, we set our maximum number of guests on a standard tour to 6. This keeps it comfortable for everyone, and gives each person plenty of space to have a look at the whales. For whole boat charter, this can be reviewed on a case by case basis, as the boat is in commercial survey for 12 people, and if there are lots of children in the group, a larger number of people may fit comfortably. Please email info@affordablechartersgroup.com.au if you are interested in whole boat charter for your group.

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Whats for lunch, and what if i’m a vego?

We offer catered lunches from Channel Inn in Lucinda where we launch the vessel. They provide sandwiches which keep well for the morning in an Eskie on the boat. We also provide museli or snack bars, water (although you should bring your own water bottle), apples and sometimes other fruit to keep your bellies full during the course of the tour. If you are a vegetarian, no worries, because when you are booking a tour you will be asked to specify how many in your group need a vegetarian option. We will then pass this on to our friends at Channel Inn and they will prepare a vege option for you. We apologize to anyone with food allergies and vegans, but we can’t yet cater to your needs unfortunately. Please arrange to bring your own food for the day.

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Do you guarantee whale sightings?

Although we can never guarantee whale sightings, as they are WILD animals, we are confident our skipper will find you whales. We had a 90% success rate last season! However, if you are on a trip that does not get to view whales, we will give you a 25% discount on your next attempt (per ticket, and subject to availability). If you still don’t see whales on this trip, all subsequent trips are free until you see whales (can come on any trip that is running and not completely full). We do not offer refunds for tours that do not get to see whales, as we cannot control the wildlife, but still incur all the same costs.

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Where do we depart from in Townsville?

We currently pickup behind the Holiday Inn (sugar shaker) in Townsville city at 7:30am. Click the map to be directed to google maps and get directions to the Holiday Inn!

Holiday Inn Townsville - Google Maps - Google Chrome_2016-07-05_20-37-45

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