George Bass Coastal Walk

Although not on Phillip Island, the George Bass Coastal Walk from near San Remo to Kilcunda is worth the short drive from the island.

The 7 kilometre walk starts at the end of Punch Bowl Road outside San Remo, and takes walkers along the cliff tops to Shelley Beach, Kilcunda.

View towards Wonthaggi from the George Bass Coastal Walk

View towards Wonthaggi from George Bass Coastal Walk

Before you set off make sure to take insect repellent, water and a hat. And if you have a dog with you, bring water for the dog as well – we give some of ours to a very thirsty dog whose owner neglected to bring some!

Take the path to the lookout at the start to take in the views over to Cape Woolamai. Below, at the cliff bottom, fisherman cast in lines from rock ledges. Walkers will see signs about the dangers of this practice.

The walking track is mostly mown grass or dirt but in places deep sand, and meanders up and down hills and over dunes, the view constantly changing.

Birds flit through the trees and bushes – as well as sea birds, we see wrens and a trio of yellow-tailed black cockatoos, a very special sighting.

We keep a wary eye out for snakes and see a tail disappear into the grass ahead of us. Be wary in summer!

Our approach disturbs a blue tongue lizard, sunbathing on the path. It quietly slips into the dense track side grasses.

In spring there is a wonderful array of flowers. Splashes of purple, yellow, pink and white abound. In shady gullies we hear the tickle of water making its way to the sea.

At times on one side we have rolling green farmland with grazing cattle lazily chewing and looking at us with sleepy eyes. This contrasts with rugged, rocky cliffs above secluded beaches.

Walk the short distance to the lookout over Half Moon Bay. Or if you are feeling energetic, there is a path down to the beach.

Secluded Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay

During the winter the George Bass Coastal Walk would be a perfect place for a spot of whale watching!

The path winds down to Sandy Waterhole Beach and continues along this pretty beach. At the far end there is a freshwater pool trickling around sandbanks to the sea. Frogs fill the air with their croaking and kangaroo tracks can be seen at the water’s edge.

We follow the signs through the dunes and once again are up on the cliff tops.

Getting closer to Kilcunda we can look along the coastline to the Powlett River entrance, Wonthaggi wind turbines and in the distance, Cape Liptrap.

At Shelley Beach West (less than a kilometre from Kilcunda), we watch the waves crashing into the rock shelves, sending spray high into the air.

Looking towards Cape Woolamai on Phillip Island from George Bass Coastal Walk

Looking towards Cape Woolamai, Phillip Island

It takes us about 2½ hours to reach Shelley Beach. Although the signage at the start advises the George Bass Coastal Walk will take about 4 hours return, I think it wiser to allow about 5 hours return. This gives time to rest, take photos and take in the amazing scenery.

A short walk from Shelley Beach is the Kilcunda General Store. We walk there to refuel for the return journey to San Remo. This busy cafe is obviously a local favourite. We sit outside under the verandah with views over Bass Strait. There are a few gluten free food options. I go with the dhal with toasted gluten free bread which is delicious.

Walkers can refill their water bottles from a water cooler for the return walk.

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