The Humpback Whale watching on the stunning Fraser Coast in beautiful, sunny Queensland is second to none.  Part of the reason Hervey Bay was named as the First Whale Heritage Site in the World in October 2019.

The entire Whalesong Cruises Hervey Bay team has seen the positive impact that wildlife encounters can have on our guests.  Many of our guests get on the boat thinking it’s going to be a nice day on the water and they might see some whales splashing in the distance.  Every cruise is different and we don’t know what’s going to happen from cruise to cruise.  What we do know is, there will be many guests get off the cruise, that had experiences over and above what they thought!

MV Whalesong 2 was built in 2010, with accessibility in mind.  The previous owners of Whalesong (who built the boat), had friends and relatives in wheelchairs and understood the importance of accessible tourism; the boat and has some great vantage points, as well as good wheelchair manoeuvrability, ramps and a wheelchair accessible toilet.

Whalesong Cruises Hervey Bay Wheelchair accessible boat

Bec and Doug, the current owners, also believe tourism should be accessible to everyone, no matter what their (dis)ability is.  They also understand that not everyone can get out on a boat.  It’s unfortunate that many won’t get to enjoy what an incredible experience whale watching in Hervey Bay.

Cue, Bec’s brain shifting into overdrive….

In August 2020, she contacted the talented local videographer David Pierson Films to film for our Afternoon + Sunset Whale Watch (which didn’t have its own official video) and also take some more beautiful drone footage.  Did you see the video of the two Humpback Whales breaching by the boat near sunset?  So good!

Anyway, after creating this video and a new sales training video for our B2B customers, she asked David about taking 360 degree video footage on the boat.  She initially thought it’d be great to show agents at the Trade Shows she attends with TEQ (Tourism and Events Queensland) and TA (Tourism Australia)

After a bit more thinking, she realised she could also take the Humpback Whales to those who couldn’t come to them.

Welcome to the ‘Whales for Everyone’ program…

Whales for everyone Whalesong Cruises Hervey Bay

Long story short, we now have some awesome 360 deg video footage of our cruise and some whale action.  Simply insert into the VR headset and it’s like you’re on the boat…watching whales…without having to leave your wheelchair – and less chance of seasickness.  It is perfect for taking the whales to people, who can’t visit them.

There’s so much more to tell. At this stage though, all we can say is, we are just getting started. We’ve already visited 5 aged care facilities in Hervey Bay, the PCYC Hervey Bay Youth Program and will soon be heading into some respite centres. The visits have all been so successful and well received! The plan is to make this into a larger program for everyone to enjoy on a regular basis.

 

Whalesong Cruises Hervey Bay whales for everyone masters lodge compilation

 

Thus far, Whalesong has funded everything (initial filming/editing, VR headsets, banners, wages etc…). Thanks to a recent digital grant from the Fraser Coast Regional Council, we are able to film again next week and create new content. Giving a selection of VR experiences for everyone that will be available on our YouTube channel by September.  Thanks FCRC!

Oh, we could go on and on about this, as you can probably tell 😅

It’s such a beautiful project. Seeing the reactions to the whales and the experience, in general, has been extremely heart warming.

At some point, we’ll be making the headsets available in our Marina office for a try-before-you-buy experience.  This’ll be great for those who aren’t sure about whale watching and also for those who simply don’t want to (or can’t go out) on the boat.

In the meantime, we’re going to keep sharing in this beautiful community of ours.
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