RIGHT on time, the start of the whale migration season has arrived on our doorstep.
And for the first time, this spectacle of nature will be witnessed from the shoreline, with whale watching tours on hold until COVID-19 restrictions are eased or lifted.
It has been a long and challenging six months for the local tourism industry, with many small business operators hoping they've got enough left in the tank to make it through to the end of winter.
Jodie Heeney of Port Jet Cruise Adventures is praying they will at least get part of the peak whale watching season in this year.
"We're hopeful restrictions might be eased by June 1. We need to get some of the whale season in. We had the bushfires in November which had a massive impact on tourism numbers and then flooding in February - it's been a tough run," she said.
June marks the height of the northern migration with up to 30,000 humpbacks predicted to pass the coastline on their journey to warmer waters to give birth.
They will then head back southwards, many with their newborn calves, during spring from September through to November, travelling at a much more leisurely pace.
"If we could catch that, it would be awesome," Jodie said.
"We've seen nothing like this before. We started to feel the impacts of drought last year when a lot less people from inland, farming families who come over on holidays, just stopped coming.
"November was a write-off with the smoke and fires. We then had a very slow build to the summer holidays then the fires down south stopped a lot of people from travelling. That was going to be our buffer for February and then we got hit with floods for three weeks.
"And then you could never have predicted this (COVID-19). Easter is usually massive for us. We missed our Easter this year and we're just hanging in there.
"We've shut everything down as much as possible but there are still boat expenses. They are all still sitting on the water and have got to be maintained."
The business has 10 staff and has access to Jobkeeper. Jodie is realistic it is going to take a long time before any normal foot traffic returns from a tourism perspective.
Meanwhile, the Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia (ORRCA) has locked in June 28 for the annual whale census.
Held at peak migration time, volunteers will monitor headlands and key whale spotting sites along the East Coast to count the number of whales on the move north.
With over 30,000 whales predicted to be currently migrating along the NSW coastline, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is encouraging everyone, when restrictions are eased, to visit coastal national parks for some of the best vantage points to spot these majestic ocean giants.
Humpbacks and southern right whales are the most commonly sighted, however minke, false killer whales and orcas may also be spotted.
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service recommends these top whale watching spots:
Caption Cook's lookout, Hat Head National Park - Located beneath the Smoky Cape lighthouse near Kempsey, this is a great place to spot whales, enjoy a picnic and take in the amazing South West Rocks views. Experienced walkers can tackle the 10km (one way) Little Bay to Smoky Cape walk for whale spotting along the way.
Trial Bay Gaol, Arakoon National Park - Close to South West Rocks, Arakoon National Park provides plenty of headlands and foreshores to spot passing whales, as well as great picnic spots near the historic Trial Bay Gaol. Spot mother whales and their calves in the calmer waters of Front Beach during the southern migration (Aug-Oct).
Eastern Side lookout, Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve - No visit to Coffs Harbour is complete if you haven't been to Eastern Side lookout, in Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve. With spectacular views from the coast to islands, it's a great spot for watching birds up close and is also an important Aboriginal place, harbouring stories of the Dreaming.
Nambucca Heads, Scotts Head and Hungry Head are also renowned whale watching spots.
Whale watchers can download NPWS' free Wild About Whales mobile app to find the best vantage point and get real-time notifications of nearby sightings.