Australia’s BIG Six

Picture of By Matthew Essex

By Matthew Essex

Salty Swims Co Founder

We’ve all heard of the term, Africa’s ‘Big 5’ – Lions, Water Buffalo, Leopards, Elephants and Rhino.

Many might not know however, that its origins have gut-wrenching roots. The term was originally coined by big game hunters who considered these African mammals as the most dangerous and most challenging to hunt, making them a trophies in the sport. Most of this group are currently listed as vulnerable or endangered and although there are now strict laws in place to protect them, hunting is still allowed to some degree and poaching continues to be a concern.

The term nowadays, to good/moral people like us, now depicts a more cheery demeanour. It’s used by safari tour operators referring to the wish lists of holiday makers and avid nature photographers visiting Africa. The Big five + one, the mountain gorilla, makes Africa’s BIG Six… I think you can see what I’m proposing here!?

Australia’s BIG Six

- Humpback Whale, Whale Shark, White Shark, Manta Ray, Seal/Sea Lion & Dolphin -

1. Humpback Whales

During the months of July to November nature seekers and Salty Swimmers can join these gentle giants in the warm shallow water of the Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia and the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. They’re massive in size, growing up to 16 meters and weighing up to 40 tonnes, yet they are very soft by nature. They are known for being very curious at times, coming up close to swimmers for a better look, diving down below to show off with a graceful dance. Witnessing a mother teaching her calf how to be a whale, a family unit swimming together or listening to them communicate through song is an incredibly heart-warming experience.
CLICK HERE to explore Humpback Whale tours in Australia

Swim with Humpback Whales

2. Whale Sharks

Through the months of March to August, the Ningaloo Reef region of Western Australia is buzzing for this annual visitor. It’s the highlight of their year and wildlife-swim specialists provide you with the opportunity to join them in the water. They are truly impressive in size and on average grow up to 12 meters in length, making them the largest fish in the ocean. Their unique pattern and ‘sharky’ movement make them mesmerizing to watch and they often swim close to the surface, making them ideal for witnessing by snorkel and mask. Be sure to book in-advance as they are one of the most popular buck-list marine creatures and tours fill up fast. You’ll be left in awe!
CLICK HERE to explore Whale Shark tours in Australia

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3. White Sharks

This is a true adrenaline pumping and thrill-seeking experience of epic proportions! Head to Port Lincoln, South Australia where tours run YEAR ROUND. White sharks can grow up to 6.5 meters in length and weigh over a tonne, making them a breath-taking sight under the water. Unfortunately, you can’t swim freely with them but there is a tour operator that offers a cage dive and uses music to bring you close to this apex predator. If you would rather stay dry, they’ve also pioneered the world’s first Aqua Sub which provides 360-degree views under the vessel. This has got to be one of the most impressive marine animals you can witness in the wild and one not to miss!
CLICK HERE to explore White Shark tour in Australia

Shark Cage Dive

4. Manta Rays

 Once again, the Ningaloo Region of Western Australia pulls another trump card and what’s more, these magnificent creatures are found here YEAR ROUND! It’s an incredibly special experience to witness these gracious animals and with a wingspan of 5.5 meters, they too are true giants! Interestingly, they have the largest brain in relation to their body size of any fish and as a result, have been found to have very individual personalities and often approach swimmers out of curiosity. Some are even known by name such as Isobel, Whoopi and Freckles. Watch as they glide through the water and perform somersaults, a courtship dance and a technique used to feed.

 CLICK HERE to explore Manta Ray tour in Australia

Salty Swims Marine Life Experiences takes a swimmer Dancing with a Manta Ray

5. Seals/Seal Lions

These ‘puppies of the sea’, can found in the shallow waters of Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, departing from the townships of Sorrento and Queenscliff (near Melbourne), as well as Port Lincoln, South Australia (far away from the White Sharks) and off Montague Island, New South Wales. Seasons vary slightly through the months of September to June. Although cute, they certainly don’t get their name from being small or petit and can grow up to 2.5 meters in length and weigh a whopping 200 kilograms. They are perfectly adapted for life in the water and are both fast and acrobatic, often performing somersaults, twists and turns in their efforts to show off in front of a camera.
CLICK HERE to explore Seal/ Sea Lion tours in Australia
Swim with Sea Lions

6. Dolphins

One of the most loved animals on the planet – Dolphins are found in all of Australia’s coastal waters and in selective locations, you have the opportunity to enter their watery world. Head to Kangaroo Island, South Australia (YEAR ROUND), or Adelaide in South Australia where a tour operator boasts 100% success rate (September to June), Port Stephens offers the only tour operator in New South Wales (October to June) and in the shallow waters of Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, departing from Sorrento and Queenscliff, you can experience Dolphins AND Seals (September to June). They are a true delight to witness underwater, so playful, excitable and everything you hoped for.
CLICK HERE to explore Dolphin tours in Australia
A Lone Dolphin in the Blue with Salty Swims Marine Life Experiences

Australia's BIG Six

- Experience them all -

Planning your travels and wish to experience Australia’s Big Six on one road trip?! Here’s what we suggest:

1. Start your journey in May
New South Wales/ Victoria/ South Australia region provides the opportunity to experience Dolphins and Seals and during this time of the year, the waters a little warmer too.

 2. Mid-way through your trip – June
It’s time to experience the peak of your adrenaline and witness White Sharks. It’s during this time of the year that they are more frequently sighted in the waters off Port Lincoln, South Australia providing you with the best chance for sighting them.

3. Finishing your journey in July
Witness the largest of Australia’s Big Six in Coral Bay & Exmouth in Western Australia – Witness the giants of this group, Humpback Whales, Whale Sharks and Manta Rays!

Thanks for reading. Please do leave your comments, we appreciate any feedback you have. You can also join our mailing list below if you like, that way we can make sure that you don’t miss our next blog. AND, if you have any questions or a positive topic you would like to share, please feel welcome to email me directly at the bottom of the page.

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