July 11, 2022

Best Travel Guide to Montague Island

Montague Island is among Australia’s top ecotourism destinations widely famous for its unique wildlife and impressive maritime and Aboriginal history. It boasts a heritage-listed lighthouse that towers over a magnificent green landscape studded with boulders. The island is a protected nature reserve where you can enjoy seeing whales, seals, penguins and over 90 bird species all in one space. It is a small island but with so much to offer to its visitors. Here’s how to get the most out of your visit.


Getting to Montague Island 
Montague Island is also known by its local Yuin Aboriginal people as Barunguba. It’s situated about 9km off the charming coastal town of Narooma, on the South coast of New South Wales. To get to Narooma, you’ll need about four hours by car from Sydney and three hours from Canberra. Then, a 20-minute boat ride from Narooma’s marina will get you to the island. Bear in mind that the island can only be accessed by authorised tour operators.  

Whale watching
Visiting Montague Island gives you a unique opportunity to marvel at humpback whales. These spectacular creatures are known for their flashy behaviour when they leap out of the water, flip in the air and crash loudly back into the water. The whales are quite curious creatures as well so they often come close to the boats peeking out of the water to get a better look. It’s a close encounter that you’ll never forget!

Make sure you book a whale-watching tour in Narooma so your family and friends can experience meeting these amazing creatures. The best time to see them is in spring when krill and baitfish breed there providing the best feeding grounds in Australia for humpbacks.


Swimming with seals 
Montague Island is also home to a variety of Australian and New Zealand fur seals, and the best way to see them is to join them in the water on a snorkelling or scuba diving tour. There are plenty of different tours to choose from depending on your preference. Some tours include a gourmet lunch on their boat, whereas others can offer a fishing trip in combination.


Staying in a lighthouse keeper’s cottage 
The granite lighthouse of Montague Island is still active and represents an important historical landmark. It has stood the test of time largely unchanged since 1881 when it was constructed. If you want to stay longer than just a day’s trip and you wish to immerse yourself in its history, book an overnight stay. You have two gorgeously restored lighthouse keeper’s cottages at your disposal, the five-bedroom Montague Island Head Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage, or the three-bedroom Montague Island Assistant Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage. Both offer spectacular ocean views, a well-equipped kitchen and barbecue facilities, and your boat transport as well as a two-and-a-half-hour tour of the island is included in the price.  

Certain parts of the island are closed to visitors due to wildlife conservation and cultural reasons, but you’ll be able to enjoy the Montague Island 1.5km circuit walking track, or if you prefer to take it easy, simply unwind on the cottage veranda and enjoy the oceanic views.


Touring the island 
During your stay on the island, you'll get a chance to learn more about the island's history. It was first spotted by Captain Cook but it was officially discovered some twenty years later by the master of the convict ship and it got its name after the British statesman George Montagu-Dunk, Earl of Halifax.

Centuries before its colonial history, the island was used by the local Yuin Aboriginal people as men’s teaching grounds. Both aspects of its history are extensively covered on a guided tour of the island, conducted by expert NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service rangers who cooperate with the commercial operators so you have a wide range of different tour packages to choose from.  
As Montague Island is home to the state’s largest colony of penguins, from September to January you can book a tour to see them as well. About 90 bird species visit the island throughout the year so birdwatchers will enjoy observing three species of shearwaters, sea eagles and whistling kites among others.  

Timing your visit
Montague Island is open for a tour throughout the entire year, with each season offering a different and unique wildlife experience. The fur seal colony peaks in mid-spring, whales and penguins arrive in September, and flocks of shearwaters come in October to nest on the island during the summer months. Waters are also the most comfortable for snorkelling and diving at this time.

Don’t miss your chance to visit Montague Island and have a memorable experience exploring wildlife in its unspoiled environment and learning more about its fascinating history.

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