Recently devastated by bushfires, migrating whales help revive some Australian towns

EDEN, Australia (Reuters) - Devastated by recent bushfires, parts of Australia’s east coast where tourists can see migrating humpback whales are seeing an unexpected surge in demand as people venture to lesser known destinations closer to home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this year Australia prohibited international travel in a bid to stop its citizens contracting COVID-19, and with fewer possible holiday destinations, some are choosing travel to small towns such as Eden, 450 kilometres (280 miles) south of Sydney.

“It’s been an absolutely amazing start to the season,” said Brad Wills, the owner of Cat Balou cruises.

Eden, a prime spot to see humpback whales migrating back to Antarctica from the warmer northern waters in September, lies in an area that was among the hardest hit by bushfires that razed than 11 million hectares (37 million acres) of bushland across Australia’s southeast. The fires, during what Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the country’s “black summer”, killed at least 33 people and millions of native animals.

Writing by Colin Packham; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky