The Irwin family bought 1.6 hectares of land that became Beerwah Reptile Park. By 1972 they had realised their ambition to run a zoological facility in their dream location – Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
Bob Irwin was respected globally as a herpetologist and helped pioneer reptilian husbandry in Australia. Lyn was one of the first people to rehabilitate sick, injured and orphaned wildlife in south-east Queensland.
The park gained renown, and in 1980, a further 1.6 hectares was added as the menagerie expanded and it was renamed the Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park.
Every single cent earned was pumped back into the Park and into conservation. Bob and the late Steve Irwin spent much of the 1980s capturing and relocating rogue crocodiles in partnership with the Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service. The crocodiles which were unable to be returned to the wild were taken to the Irwins to live in the newly created Crocodile Environmental Park.
The family is known around the world, and there were enormous outpourings of grief at Steve’s untimely death. There were countless stories of his achievements, but one that seems to be not so well-known was his passion for whales.
It was his dream to be a warrior for whales and take as many people along for a ride as possible. Now that dream has come to life and Steve’s widow Terri has launched the catamaran “Steve’s Whale One” on the Sunshine Coast. It is the first whale watching enterprise there and tours run every day during the migration season, June till around mid-November. Every single whale passes Mooloolaba so you get the pick of a massive variety of humpbacks travelling from Antarctica in pods to mate and calf.
Apart from admiring the huge creatures, a resident biologist and whale expert is there to share knowledge about them and teaching how to preserve them. It is most comforting and reassuring to know that in 1962 there were around 400 whales left on the coast. Common sense and the cease of slaughter have combined to increase the numbers to around 10 thousand, increasing 11% each year.
The humpback has the longest flippers of all whales – they can be up to 4.5 metres long. A fully grown humpback can be 18 metres long Each has uniquely shaped and coloured flukes, invaluable for identification. There are two broad population groups – one in each hemisphere. They inhabit the open ocean and feed on small schooling fish. A single calf is born after a gestation period of 12 months and stays close to its mother for a year.
The catamaran sails out of Mooloolaba with up to 120 passengers. 360 degree views mean everyone sees everything, and an underwater hydrophone allows you to hear the underwater whale songs.
Passengers are served smorgasbord lunch, receive a gift, a 15% off voucher for Australia Zoo on the Beach, there is a professional photographer on every trip and if there are no whales sighted, you will receive a return trip. There is a bar on board.
Mooloolaba on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
Australia Zoo Whale Encounters cost $125 for adults, $75 for children and $320 for a family of four. They depart Mooloolaba at 10am and take around 4.5 hours and run between June and mid-November.
Virgin Blue has flights to the Gold Coast.
One-way fares from;
- Sydney, $89
- Melbourne, $109
- Adelaide, $155
- Perth, $305
There are limited seats which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares are one-way on the net. An extra $15 will be charged for phone bookings. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per person per one way flight is applicable. Fares are correct at August 02, 2007 and are subject to change.
Prices correct at 02.08.2007
For more information
Glass House Mountains Tourist Drive
Ph: 1300 274 539
Phone: 13 88 33
Ph: 13 6789