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FAQ

Bremer Canyon Expeditions

When is the best time to join an expedition?


There are a few things to consider when booking the date of your expedition. Apart from your own timeframes and personal circumstances, consider the species you would most like to see.

Our Bremer Canyon Killer Whale Expeditions begin in January, the Australian mid-summer. Temperatures are warmer, and Killer Whales (Orca) are sighted on almost all expeditions with the peak sighting period in February. Few other whale species are encountered at this time, however dolphins, sunfish and sharks are seen and seabird diversity is good. In March, Killer Whales are still sighted most days, and the chance of seeing a higher diversity of cetacean species increases. At this time of year you may also see Long-Finned Pilot Whales, Sperm Whales and False Killer Whales or, more rarely, Blue Whales. Bottlenose, common, and striped dolphin pods are also more common.

In April, our Sperm Whale and Pelagic Wildlife Expeditions begin. The Bremer Canyon is the only place in Australia you can see Sperm Whales, and we encounter them almost every day. Other cetacean species include Killer Whales (Orca), Long-Finned Pilot Whales, False Killer Whales, Common, Striped and Bottlenose Dolphins, and more rarely, Blue Whales and Fin Whales. Seabird diversity is good and sharks are still sometimes sighted. The weather is cooler, but often less windy than the summer months.

What time does the expedition depart?

Boarding is at 8am. You must be present and ready to board at this time to participate in the safety induction. Please arrive 30 minutes prior to boarding. Departure is 8.30am sharp. Please do not be late as we cannot wait for you, Department of Transport regulations require as to leave the wharf at 8.30am.

How long is the expedition?

Your expedition is a full day at sea. We depart the boat harbour at 8.30am, and return at approximately 4.30pm. Return time may vary slightly depending on weather conditions and wildlife sightings.

Will I get seasick?

This is a hard question as we can’t tell exactly what the conditions will be like throughout the day and how prone each person is to being seasick.

We are well prepared and on the most stable vessel operating in Bremer Bay, but it is important to remember that we are going into the southern ocean for a full day where you cannot see land. Offshore conditions are very different from the coastal cruising most of us do in our own boats or on a traditional whale watch tour. Even if you have never been seasick, you cannot be sure you will not be on your expedition. It is important to be personally prepared and take a seasick preventative before your expedition. You have invested a lot of time and money in your experience, and it would be a shame to spend your day at sea feeling ill. While on the boat the our crew will be happy to help you get the most out of your experience and help reduce the risk of getting sick.

What kind of food will be on board and what if I have special dietary requirements?

Lunch, morning and afternoon tea, soft drinks, coffee, tea, hot chocolate and water are included in the price and supplied on board. We are always happy to accomodate your dietary requirements, please let us know in advance as it often takes time to source items not usually supplied due to our remote location.

How accessible is the boat?

The Alison Maree is accessed from the wharf at the Bremer Bay Boat Harbour. Access is via a metal ramp. The angle of the ramp varies according to the tide and may be quite steep. You board from the ramp to the rear deck. The spacious main saloon, rear deck and the two toilets are all on this level and are accessible if you have limited mobility. The upper deck and wheelhouse are accessed via steps. The bow is accessed via a sea door. The sea door has a knee high ledge you need to step over and steps to access the viewing area.

I am in a wheelchair. Can I still join an expedition?

Access for everyone is something we strive for as a company. Your comfort and enjoyment depends on your individual circumstances. We have provided some information to help you decide if our vessel will meet your needs and whether you will enjoy a full day expedition and the offshore marine environment. If you are able, we recommend viewing our vessel in person, and please contact our friendly team to discuss your individual circumstances.

The Alison Maree has a comfortable and spacious lounge with window seating. Our rear deck is suitable for viewing of wildlife from your wheelchair, or we can help you move to the rear deck seating.

Some things to consider in making your decision include:

  • Please let us know when you book that you have a wheelchair. If we know you are coming we can make arrangements to assist you.
  • Consider the vessel access information provided here.
  • The offshore southern ocean is not ever completely calm, so you will experience considerable movement of the deck during the day. Rough seas may mean we cannot secure your wheelchair on our rear deck.
  • We highly recommend you have at least one support person to assist you on board at all times.
  • Our toilets do not have space to accomodate a wheelchair alongside the pedestal, so some mobility and/or assistance from companions travelling with you will be necessary.
  • We will board you board first, giving you plenty of time to get comfortable and ensuring our crew can focus on helping you, so please arrive 30 minutes prior to the stated arrival time.

What should I wear?

It is always much colder in the offshore oceanic environment than it is on land, and you may get wet from sea spray too. Bring a waterproof jacket even if rain is not forecast, and pack an extra warm layer to bring on board. A hat that will not blow off is recommended for sun protection, and a beanie and scarf will help keep you warm, especially later in the season. Choose clothes that are comfortable and quick-drying, material like denim takes a long time to dry and is uncomfortable when wet.

Choose shoes that are non-slip when wet, and are made of material that dries quickly. Leather may be ruined by salt spray and high heels on a moving deck are neither fun or safe!

Can I bring my children?

Yes you can, however they must be at least ten (10) years old on the day of departure. The age restriction is strictly enforced to comply with safety requirements, including procedures necessary in an emergency. You may be requested to provide proof of your children’s age by our crew.

 Our expeditions provide an amazing adventure and learning experience for older children, and our crew enjoy having children on board. You are best placed to decide whether your children will cope with a full day on a vessel in the offshore marine environment. The following information is provided to help you decide whether the Bremer Canyon Expedition experience is suitable for your children.  

  • Children must be at leat ten (10) years old on the day of your expedition. This age restriction is strictly enforced and you may be required to provide proof of children ages.
  • Children must be under parental supervision at all times while on board.
  • Consider your children's previous experience on boats. Have they spent time on boats? Did they enjoy the experience?
  • Have your children suffered from motion sickness? If your children feel sick when travelling in a car or on a plane, it is likely they will also get seasick.
  • Can your children reliably follow instructions? Your children will need to be able to follow all instructions from our crew for their comfort and safety on board. 

Can I get a bus from Albany to Bremer Bay?

Yes, Busy Blue Bus offer return transport to Bremer Bay from Albany. An optional land tour is available if you have companions not going on the expedition. To make a booking please contact our office directly or choose the bus option online. Cost $484 AUD per person. This includes your Bremer Canyon Expedition and return bus trip. If you have already booked your expedition, you can still book a bus ticket. The cost is $99 AUD per person. Busy Blue Bus require a minimum of 2 passengers for the bus trip to operate.

The bus departs Albany Visitor Centre at 5.45am and returns to Albany approximately 7pm. Please be on time for your departure as we cannot hold the expedition vessel for you in Bremer Bay.

Am I guaranteed to see a whale?

No, but the chances are very high! Thanks to our experienced crew and knowledge of whale behaviour and the Bremer Canyon marine environment, not seeing whales is rare. We are viewing wild animals however, that (thankfully) are free to do as they please. This means that we cannot guarantee the species we will encounter on any given day, and it is possible that no whales will be sighted on your expedition. We understand the disappointment of our guests if this does happen, and therefore if you do not see a whale, our no whale policy applies and you may join us again free of charge. For more information please see our no whale policy.

What happens if the sea and weather conditions are not suitable?

Your safety and comfort are of paramount importance to us. If the conditions are not suitable, we will cancel the expedition. As getting to Bremer Bay involves travelling long distances and extensive forward planning by many of our guests, cancellations due to the weather are usually made three days beforehand to allow guests time to change their travel plans. Weather conditions are sometimes unpredictable, and on occasion a decision to cancel may be made with less notice. Passengers travelling to join us are advised to telephone for a conditions update prior to leaving your destination.

What happens if the expedition is cancelled?

If an expedition is cancelled due to inclement weather or any unforeseen circumstances we will endeavour to get you onto the next available expedition or full refund applies. We recommend contacting our office prior to leaving your destination to check on availability or weather conditions.

If my expedition is cancelled, will I be transferred to the next one?

When an expedition is cancelled, we will do our best to accommodate you on the next available expedition. Expeditions are often fully booked in advance, and therefore a place may not be available the next day. We will make every effort to accomodate your preferences when rescheduling, and if we cannot reschedule to your satisfaction a full refund applies. Please see our cancellation policy for more information.

What if it is raining or the weather is bad on the day of my booking?

Rain is possible at any time of the year in Bremer Bay, and you should expect at least a 1-2m swell on your expedition. The southern ocean is never completely calm. Expeditions will still depart if it is raining and/or the sea is rough, the whales don’t mind! We recommend bringing a waterproof jacket and extra warm clothing with you as you may get wet from sea spray even if it doesn’t rain. Of course if weather conditions do not allow visibility or are unsafe, an expedition will be cancelled.

What should I bring on my expedition and what can I do to get the most out of it?

An extra jumper, a hat that won’t blow off and/or sunscreen, a waterproof jacket, seasickness medication, your camera and your sense of adventure! We would very much appreciate you bringing a bottle of water with you, as we make every effort to reduce our waste and our use of single-use plastics on our expeditions. Water is available on board for you to refill your bottle during the day. We provide reusable coffee cups that you can use to help yourself to unlimited tea, coffee or hot chocolate during the day.

We know how much you are looking forward to your expedition! We hope these tips help you get the most from your amazing experience. Please also get in touch with our friendly staff at any time. There is no such thing as a silly question or too many questions if it helps you prepare for and enjoy your time on board.

  • Allow several days for your visit in case of inclement weather. Bremer Bay is a beautiful spot to spend a few days exploring.
  • Take medication for seasickness. Even if you have never been seasick, the southern ocean is very different to coastal cruising. You cannot see land and the sea is often rough. Even on calm days there is more swell and ocean movement than in a nearshore environment. Being seasick is a miserable experience, and it is a very long day on the water if you are sick.
  • Take seasickness medication. Yes, we know we are repeating ourselves! It is that important.
  • Charge your camera/phone the night before.
  • Delete any unwanted photos from your phone/camera the night before. You don’t want to be looking down doing this while the whales do something spectacular!
  • When you board our vessel, switch your phone to flight mode. This stops the battery drain by the phone trying to find a signal.
  • If you have a smart phone and the whales come close, using video mode means you don’t have to keep your attention on taking photos. You are less likely to miss a shot and can take screen shots from your video later.
  • Bring spare batteries and memory cards for your camera. Keep them in your pocket on board, you don’t want to have to go and find your bag at the crucial moment!

Can I buy photos taken on my expedition?

Key staff such as our photographer and marine biologist take photos on our expeditions for reporting and research purposes. Photographs can be used to identify individual animals, and to report on sightings for all species encountered. You can read more about how photographs are used to identify cetaceans here. Days at sea are long, and processing and reporting “homework” also takes time, so unfortunately photos cannot be made available for each expedition. We do however publish our “Crew Report” which includes the best of our photographs each day on our Facebook page for you to share with friends and family, and download as a memento of your experience. You can view our popular Crew Reports here. Some of our best photos of the season are available for guests to purchase, you can view our gallery here.

Can I fly a drone from your vessel?

Use of drones by guests is not permitted. Federal Government regulations do not allow drones within a 300m radius of any cetacean. Launching and landing drones has the potential to impact the experience of other guests and the safe operation of our vessel.

 

Augusta & Dunsborough

Can I bring my children?

Yes, please do, whale watching is an amazing experience for kids, and they will learn along the way too! We welcome children of all ages on board, but we ask that they be under parental supervision at all times. There is room for prams on board too.

How accessible is the boat? Is there room for prams and wheelchairs?  

The short answer is yes. Access for everyone is something we strive for as a company. All tours can accomodate wheelchairs and prams on board, but we understand that everyone’s needs are different, so have provided as much information as possible. Please also contact our friendly team to discuss your needs in person.

Access & wheelchairs

The Alison Maree’s spacious main saloon, rear deck and the two toilets are accessible are all on the same level. They are accessible if you have limited mobility or are in a wheelchair. The upper deck and wheelhouse are accessed via steps. The bow is accessed via a sea door. The sea door has a knee high ledge you need to step over and steps access the viewing area.

Augusta: Our vessel Alison Maree will be parked in the Augusta Boat Harbour and is accessed by a wide, stable floating jetty. There are a set of steps to access the deck, however staff can assist to load prams and wheelchairs.

Dunsborough: Our vessel Alison Maree will be moored in the calm shallows of Geographe Bay. You will board our tender vessel Indi Maree from the beach via a custom designed ramp. You will then board the rear deck of the Alison Maree.

We welcome and do our best to accomodate guests in wheelchairs. Our vessel Alison Maree has a comfortable and spacious lounge with window seating. Our rear deck is suitable for viewing wildlife from a wheelchair, or we can help you move to the rear deck seating. Your comfort and enjoyment depends a lot on your individual circumstances. To help you decide whether our vessel will meet your requirements, we have included photographs here, and we recommend you take time if possible to view the vessel yourself.

Some things to consider in making your decision include:

  • Please let us know when you book that you have a wheelchair. If we know you are coming we can be ready to assist you.
  • Consider the access information provided here specific to your chosen tour destination.
  • Consider choosing a tour date with good weather. Rough weather makes it more difficult to secure your wheelchair via it’s brakes alone on our rear deck.
  • We highly recommend you have at least one support person to assist you on board at all times.
  • Our toilets do not have space to accomodate a wheelchair alongside the pedestal, so some mobility and/or assistance from companions travelling with you will be necessary.
  • We will board you board first, giving you plenty of time to get comfortable and ensuring our crew can focus on helping you, so please arrive 30 minutes prior to the stated arrival time.

Will I get seasick? 

This is a hard question as we can’t tell exactly what the conditions will be like throughout the day and how prone each person is to being seasick.

It is important to remember that we are going into open waters, but we are well prepared and on the most stable vessel in the bay. It is also important to be personally prepared and take a seasick preventative before the tour. While on the boat the our crew will be happy to help you get the most out of your experience and help reduce the risk of getting sick.

What sort of food and drink can I expect on board?

Complimentary coffee, hot chocolate and a selection of teas and biscuits are available on your tour. Gluten free options are included.

Complimentary water is also available, but we encourage you to bring your own refillable water bottle with you if you can, to assist us in our goal of minimising waste, especially single use plastics. You are most welcome to bring your own snacks on board too if you wish.

What should I wear?

Choose shoes that are non-slip when wet, and are made of material that dries quickly. Leather may be ruined by salt spray and high heels on a moving deck are neither fun or safe! Bring a waterproof jacket even if it is not raining as you may get wet from sea spray. Bring an extra layer a beanie and scarf, it is always colder than you think on open water. Choose clothes that are quick drying, material like denim dries slowly and is uncomfortable when wet.

Am I guaranteed to see a whale?

No, but the chances are very high! Thanks to our experienced crew knowledge of our destination and whale behaviour, this does not happen often. We are viewing wild animals however, that (thankfully) are free to do as they please, sometimes we may not see a whale on your tour. We understand the disappointment of our guests if this does happen, and therefore if you do not see a whale, our no whale policy applies and you may join us again free of charge. For more information please see our no whale policy

What will I see?

Each tour is a unique experience and the sightings are never the same. The Humpback whale is the star of the show in Dunsborough, while from Augusta Humpbacks share the spotlight with Southern Right Whales. The whales behave differently each day, one day you may see lots of breaching and spectacular slaps of flippers and flukes, while another day the whales may quietly swim over and watch you watching them! Blue Whales are also seen, with sightings peaking in October, and Minke Whales are sighted on occasion. As well as sighting whales, a typical trip will cruise by colonies of seals and perhaps take in groups of Common or Bottlenose dolphins. In addition to the marine mammals, Augusta and Dunsborough have a wide variety of seabird species. These include Albatross, Shearwaters, Petrels, Gulls and Gannets. You can learn more here. 

What happens if the sea and weather conditions are not suitable?

Your safety and comfort are of paramount importance to us. If the conditions are not suitable, we will cancel the tour. Passengers, who are travelling to join us are advised to telephone for a conditions update prior to leaving your destination. 

If my tour is cancelled, will I be transferred to the next one? 

When a tour is cancelled, we will do our best to accommodate you on another one. If we cannot reschedule to your satisfaction a full refund applies. Please see our cancellation policy for more information.

What if it is raining or the weather is bad on the day of my booking?

As winter and early spring is the peak season for whale watching, rain is to be expected on our whale watching experiences. Tours will still depart if it’s raining, the whales don’t mind! We recommend layering clothing, bringing extra clothing and a waterproof jacket, as you may get wet from sea spray even if it doesn’t rain. Of course if weather conditions do not allow visibility or are unsafe, a tour will be cancelled. This decision is made the day before if possible, or on the morning of the tour so that we have access to the most up to date information.