From mid-May to mid-November, thousands of Humpbacks migrate along the coast off Port Macquarie, so these July holidays make it the time to check them out with a fantastic cruise on the Port Venture. Chrissy Jones caught up with Alison, to find out just what this adventure entails …
Why should readers book a Whale Watching tour with the Port Venture? What do you offer?
We offer lots … a purpose built boat designed by Brian Perry, the man who started the whale watching industry in Hervey bay 26 years ago. So, all his years of experience have been drawn on to produce this boat – a boat which is designed specifically for whale watching – Port Venture.
The main features that are essential for great photos and viewings and comfort are the height, stability, tiered viewing levels and quick and quiet running.
You can be on the lower deck up close and personal with the whales, or up eagle high for those great photos. We also have a hydrophone; so on some days we can even hear the whales singing.
We pride ourselves on our customer service and attention to our guests on board and do our very best to make your experience a great one.
The Port Venture catamaran is a beautiful vessel. What are some of the amenities on board?
We have full wheelchair access to board the boat, with a state of the art boarding platform. Once on board, wheelchair users can access the whole lower level of the boat, including the toilet.
She is spacious and has inside and outside areas to move around in comfort.
It’s not like being on a bus! You don’t have to remain seated, but there are plenty of fixed seats to choose from. In fact, the Port Venture has 100 fixed seats on board!
We have three restrooms and a Kiosk, where we have soft drinks, water, chips and lollies to sell.
Our boat is the largest in the area. The boat is quite suitable for children, but whether you choose to take them out into the ocean is at your discretion; having said that; we do have access for you to bring a pram on board.
Does the company have a Naturalist or Marine Biologist on board?
Brian likes to say that Ginny our deckhand has a Marine Biology degree the same as George Costanza (for you Sienfeld watchers!) Beyond that, we have the most experienced whale watching skipper in the region driving our boat, and whale mad staff who give information and commentary on the whales while we are cruising.
Brian got his skipper’s ticket in 1981 and has been driving charter boats all over the place ever since, including some pretty cool parts of the world. But he says that some of the most special days he has ever had on the water are here in Port – on those perfect days when the whales do something special.
Is the company affiliated with a research or non-profit organisation?
Last month ORRCA held its Annual Whale Census, which was on Sunday 24 June. Anyone can become involved and can submit data like we did for any whale sightings (or dolphins or seals).
We have also sent whale tail pictures through to Southern Cross Universities via NSW Department of Parks & Wildlife for whale tail signatures to build the library, as this is how whales are identified.
I am a member of Greenpeace, and my special interest that I donate towards is the Oceans (surprised?) In fifty years, if we continue at our current rate of fishing, there will be no fish left! The more that is known about these beautiful whales, the more we can voice our support for their protection – and make it happen.
Are there children’s activities on board?
Yes, whale watching and dolphins too, if we see them. Boom net riding on the river in the warmer months is great for kids.
How long is the trip? What are some of the cruises you offer?
Whale watching out on the ocean is up to 1 and half hours. It’s a good idea to book in; that way we can keep you advised if the weather changes.We do also have a variety of river cruises with dolphin spotting.
Eco History two-hour morning or afternoon tea cruise: this has continuous cruising, with tea, coffee, biscuits and cake. There is also a commentary included on the river system and its history. You can also upgrade to include a Devonshire tea.
We also have our very popular Bush BBQ cruise on a Wednesday, which is a quality day with nature up to our exclusive Bush BBQ park, where we cook you lunch ashore.
In the warmer months, we also have our hour and a half Family Fun Twilight cruise, with a hot dog for everyone and boom net rides.
Recently we also did a run down the coast to the Slice of Haven festival at Laurieton, which included some great whale watching on the way down. The feedback from the passengers was so great, with the whole experience of seeing our coastal town from the sea and arriving at the festival by boat. We are planning to do a trip down to the Laurieton markets in the near future.
Port Venture is also a great boat for parties and work functions – great for those special occasions.
Are you ecologically responsible?
I spoke with experts at Scania (my husband Brian will laugh at this) about the diesel engines, exhaust etc. that we have on the boat. I got a very long technical explanation of which I understand very little (maybe nothing). But apparently, it all means that these state of the art engines are clean, quiet running and use little fuel. This means that we provide the lowest impact on the environment possible.
Another plus with boats of this size is that following studies in Alaska in 2000-2002, it has been shown that inboard/diesel engines on a boat of our size creates least impact on noise volume levels to our marine friends – as cited by International Fund for Animal Welfare, May 2012. So I guess you could say our boat was built whale friendly.
Come and like us on the cruise terminal Facebook site and have a browse through our whale watching albums. We have specials that happen from time to time that you can access here.
The Cruise Terminal’s expert whale watching tour operators will help you have a fun, successful whale watching trip right in our own backyard.
Drop into the booking office, found at the wharf end of Clarence Street, give them a call on1300 795 577 or drop them an email: firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
This story was published in issue 80 Greater Port Macquarie Focus