I have always had a love for the ocean and all its creatures. Spending most weekends as a child out in the boat fishing with my dad and learning about the water, marine life has always been so fascinating and important to me. I still to this day love the ocean and jump at any opportunity to get out on the water. One of my favourite marine animals has always been the Orca (Killer Whale), and as a child, I used to watch Free Willy over and over! I have always wanted to see Orcas in the wild. It has been on my bucket list as long as I can remember, but thinking deep down inside it is something I’d never really tick off unless I visited somewhere overseas like Alaska. I never thought I’d be able to see these amazing beauty’s here in Australia! How wrong I was!
I was so excited when I found out there was a place in Western Australia called Bremer Canyon where Orcas visit from January to April every year, and there is a tour company called Naturaliste Charters that run daily Orca tours from Bremer Bay during the Orca season.
I had no idea where Bremer Bay was or what was involved in getting there, but I was determined to find out more and to see if I could make this dream of seeing Orcas possible!
After some research, I learnt Bremer Bay is located right down the bottom of Western Australia and is a 2 hour drive from Albany and 5 hours south east of Perth. Bremer Bay is a small coastal town which was first established back in the 1850s as an outpost for a telegraph station. Today Bremer Bay is a popular beach destination during the holiday season.
Seventy kilometres offshore lies Bremer Canyon, At 200 km long, 70 km wide and over 3.5 km deep. The Bremer Canyon is said to be the largest congregation of Killer Whales in the Southern Hemisphere due to perfect feeding conditions. Thanks to several environmental factors coming together, it invites a mix of marine life to the Canyon, including the Killer whale.
To be honest, I had no plans in visiting WA until my discovery of Bremer Bay and its hotspot for Orcas. My love for Orcas led me wanting to visit WA, and so our Western Australia adventure was born.
My first step was emailing Naturaliste Charters to see if it was possible for me to attend one of their Bremer Canyon Killer Whale Expeditions. I explained to them my situation to check if they could accommodate my wheelchair. Naturaliste Charters were more than happy to welcome me on board. They explained though it can get very rough and access is a bit restricted regarding getting on and off the boat, but if I felt I could manage, the crew were happy to assist on getting my wheelchair on board.
My next step was trying to find transport from Albany to Bremer Bay. This is where I ran into the most difficulty. Unfortunately, there is no accessible transport to Bremer Bay. There is a tour company that offers charters to Bremer Bay from Albany in alliance with the Orca tours called the Busy Blue Bus, but after contacting them I found out they had no accessible vehicles to accommodate a power wheelchair. My hopes of seeing the Orcas in Bremer Bay were starting to fade as I knew without accessible transport there would be no way of getting there,
After corresponding with Busy Blue Bus for a couple of months I received a phone call one day with the best news!!! They had organised to hire out an accessible bus for a day for me to get to the Orca tour in Bremer Bay!! Wow, It was the most amazing and unexpected news!!! If it wasn’t for Busy Blue Bus going out of their way and organising accessible transport for me, I know my Orca adventure wouldn’t have happened, and I wouldn’t be here now sharing this fantastic experience.
No words can explain how grateful I am to Busy Blue Bus for organising special transport for me. Thank you Busy Blue Bus.
The wheelchair bus they organised for me was unfortunately a one off, so they have informed me they can’t currently offer this for future services.
The Bremer Canyon Killer Whale Expedition with Naturaliste Charters leaves Bremer Bay Boat Harbour Daily at 8:30AM and returns between 4:00PM -4:30PM that afternoon. The 8 hour long day tour includes morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea, with unlimited hot and cold drinks throughout the day.
Prices start at $300 for children aged between 10-17 years, Adults for $385, and Bus and Expedition Packages from Albany and return with Busy Blue Bus are $505 (Non Accessible)
We started our Orca adventure early that morning from Albany with the Busy Blue Bus pickup at 5:15am from the Albany Visitor Centre. We arrived at Bremer Bay Boat Harbour about 7:30AM thanks to our Busy Blue Bus driver, which gave us plenty of time to meet the crew and get my wheelchair on board.
The Naturaliste Charters crew were terrific! They were all so friendly and welcoming. Honestly, they were just the best!
After a quick chat with the crew, we came up with a contingency plan to get my wheelchair on board. Since there was a pretty big step up and the ramp was reasonably steep, we decided it would be best for mum to lift me out of my wheelchair while they lifted my chair up on the ramp and on to the vessel, With a bit of teamwork and some muscle power, they got my wheelchair on board safely without to much trouble.
Once settled on board, we decided to sit outside at the back of the vessel. Out the back was where the toilets were located. They did have a larger toilet that was more suitable for those who need a little extra room, but there still wasn’t enough room to take a wheelchair in.
The view from the back of the boat looking out to Bremer Bay was beautiful. The little coastal town looked so relaxing and just the perfect location for a holiday. It was a beautiful day to be out on the water, it was a little choppy, but the Naturaliste Charters crew said that was the best weather and conditions for the Orcas! We were pumped and ready to go.
Making our way out to the Orcas was a bit rough, but I loved it. It took us awhile to find the Orcas but once we did the atmosphere on the boat just came alive!!
We followed the Orcas as they sped through the water hunting food. They were like giant bullets through the water, and our boat tried its best to keep up with them.
Later on during the day was when the Orcas became more playful and started playing and surging in the waves.
It was so surreal seeing the beautiful and amazing Orcas in the wild. It was one of the best experiences I have ever done!
We all watched in awe as the Orcas surged towards us in the massive waves, with one giant wave, we were in eye contact with the Orca who we all thought for a split second might end up in the boat with us before he quickly turned upside down and disappeared under the boat,
That memory of the Orca surging towards me will be something I will never forget!
Throughout the day, our awesome captain (Dundee) navigated the giant waves and positioned the vessel towards the Orcas so we could see.
Each and every crew member of Naturaliste Charters were so amazing throughout the day, they looked after us so well and made the day so special. They had the best attitude and got just as excited as we did each time they saw an Orca.
Even though we were out all day on the water, it was sad to say goodbye to the Orcas and make our way home.
I had the best day Orca watching with Naturaliste Charters. I can’t explain how special the day was for me seeing the Orcas, and I can’t thank the Naturaliste Charters team enough for looking after me so well and making my dream of seeing Orcas come true!
Thank you Naturaliste Charters!!
In my opinion I think this activity is better suited for guests who are able to take a few steps. Nevertheless I suggest those with mobility issues wanting to attend this Tour to contact Naturaliste Charters to discuss their individual needs. Guests with limited mobility must also travel on board with a companion as it does get fairly rough out in the open waters.
I give the Bremer Canyon Killer Whale Expedition with Naturaliste Charters a rating of 5 stars for the overall experience.
* I was not financially compensated for this review. The review is based on my own opinion and personal experience.*