Published on : Friday, June 4, 2021
South Australia’s whale watching season officially began this week and will continue to October. The Head of Bight Visitors Centre is welcoming the whales and tourists back for a season it hopes will help in its mission to support First Nations communities on the Nullarbor. Eugene Rondon and partner Jess Sheather manage the Head of Bight Visitors Centre and say visitors can see up to 100 Southern Right whales at the major calving spot on a good day.
The whale watching season usually attracts up to 300 visitors each day, but Rondon is hoping that this season will have an even greater impact upon tourism because Australians won’t be travelling overseas during the winter months. Unlike many tourist destinations, where money is injected back into a region or town, the Head of Bight is in the middle of nowhere, with the closest township more than 300km away.
The Aboriginal Lands Trust was established in 1966 as an Australian first to hold Indigenous land reserves on behalf of South Australian Aboriginal people.The Trust holds, manages and administers South Australian land, including that on which the Head of Bight Visitors Centre is run.
While this is the arrangement for the clifftop Visitors Centre, other tourism providers also benefit from the whale watching season. Local companies offer scenic flights, boat charters and bus tours, as well as accommodation, in towns on the Eyre Peninsula. Tourists can visit the Head of Bight seven days a week for the entirety of the whale watching season, which extends from now until the end of October.
Ronson shared that every year pregnant whales come in and give birth to their calves just outside of the Bight area, and bring their calves into the Bight to raise for about a month. He said that each season approximately 60 calves are born at our Head of Bight location. He also shared that he is hopeful to have a bigger season this year because people cannot go elsewhere due to restrictions.
Ronson said this means the financial side of tourism is run quite differently at the Head of Bight Visitors Centre. He mentioned that he and his partner are contracted to the Aboriginal Lands Trust to look after the property and the business. He shared that the money generated from tourists who come past gets injected back into the Aboriginal Lands Trust, which goes out to support projects within various communities.