The Big Duck : All you need to know

whale watching on the big duck in victor harbor

What is the Big Duck?

The Big Duck is Victor Harbor's spectacular ocean adventure experience where passengers get the opportunity to spot seals, dolphins, seabirds and whales (in season) in their natural environment.

The adventure tour experience will allow you to learn more about these sea creatures by close observation. You’ll also get to see picturesque sceneries en route to the location where the seals and seabirds live. The island tour experience is not just for adults because it’s a guaranteed safe activity for your kids as well.

The Big Duck tour was initially created for whale and bird watching purposes. Meeting a lot of animals in the sea was a great experience that it eventually becomes educational as well, especially for kids who want to see these animals up close the first time.

The Big Duck is an 11.3 metre Naiad Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB), purpose built for Southern Ocean conditions and is powered by 3X300hp Suzuki Engines, capable of speeds up to 40 knots. The vessel has full sun protection, comfortable seating for up to 24 passengers and has a toilet on board.

There are lots of space to move about the boat and the boat can run quietly on one engine. The Big Duck is equipped with the highest level of safety equipment while spray jackets and life jackets are provided.

Who operates the tours

The Big Duck Boat Tours is a local company owned and operated by Dan and Katie Irvine.

Dan has the Australian commercial marine qualification of Master V, an International Master of Yachts up to 200 tonnes qualification and a Marine Engine Driver certification grade 3.

Dan has been working in the marine tourism industry for the last 15 years in Cairns, North America, Sydney and Victor Harbor.

Katie Irvine (BSc, PhD) is a research ecologist and has studied and worked at the University of Adelaide, University of Denver and James Cook University, Cairns.

When do tours operate

Whale watching tour: June to September
Seal tour: Year round
Sightseeing tour: October to May
There are private charters also available by request.

Tour details

All tours depart from Granite Island Causeway.

Tour durations

Seal Island Tour is for 45 minutes.
Wildlife Sightseeing / Whale watching tour is for 1 hour 30 minutes.

Whale watching tour

The Southern Right Whale comes up from Antarctica to mate and give birth in the warmer waters of the Southern Ocean and by joining a boat tour, you can be truly amazed up close.

On a typical whale watching tour, the boat heads towards Port Elliot, then slows down to look out for dolphins and Southern Right Whales around the headlands.

The boat often stops near Pullen Island to look for New Zealand fur seals as they bask on the rocks and then ventures through Horseshoe Bay towards Bashams Beach where the whales can be seen basking in the warm shallow water which provides the perfect conditions for giving birth to calves.

The Big Duck Boat Tours is a licensed whale watching vessel.

Seal Island tour

This tour offers passengers The Big Duck experience in a compact form!

Departing from the Granite Island Causeway, a 5-minute scenic cruise takes you along the northern side of Granite Island past the Penguin Centre and Horse Tram route and around the breakwater into the open ocean.

A further 5 minutes of exhilarating motoring and you are at Seal Rock, where New Zealand Fur seals and Australian Sea Lions can be seen basking in the sun and often swim to the stationary boat to have a good look at the passengers!

Other wildlife including petrels, shearwaters and cormorants can also be seen on or around Seal Rock. Common and bottlenose dolphins are also often in the vicinity and sometimes race the boat.

After about 15 minutes viewing the wildlife and beautiful scenery at Seal Rock, The Big Duck returns to the Granite Island Causeway landing.

Wildlife and Sightseeing Tour

For this extended tour, The Big Duck again departs from the Granite Island Causeway and cruises slowly between the mainland and the northern side of Granite Island, affording breathtaking views of both the Victor Harbor shoreline and the island.

Not sure what to do after whale watching? Check out our blogpost on the fun things to do Victor Harbor.