George Bass Coastal Walk: (6 km one way) follows a strip of public
land on the clifftops between Punchbowl and Kilcunda. There is an
information shelter at the southern end of Punchbowl Rd which heads
south off Phillip Island Tourist Road to the Punchbowl (an impressive
Care must be taken as there are some electrified fences to keep cattle
in and these must only be crossed where stiles are provided. These are
outlined in a guiding map and pamphlet available from Parks Victoria
(tel: 131 963). Moreover, be sure to wear sturdy shoes, a good sun hat
and sunscreen as there is little shade in summer and the surface along
the cliffline can be slippery and uneven.
Remnants of native vegetation cling stubbornly to the clifftops in
spite of years of grazing. These include coastal tea-tree, white
correa, coast beard-heath, sea box, coast banksia at Half Moon Bay and
boobiallas along a creek just west of the bay. From the clifftops,
Southern right whales can be seen near the shore in winter. Seagulls
utilise the updraughts caused by sea winds bouncing off the cliffs
while nankeen kestrels and black-shouldered kites hunt in the farmlands.
Kilcunda, 11 km to the south, is
a serene, salt marsh reserve, frequented by aquatic birds and
surrounded by green hills. The Kilcunda Ridge Road offers pleasant
views of the bay. After coal was discovered in the cliffs near the
town, the Western Port Mining Company began excavations in 1871. Until
the railway line was extended from Kilcunda to San Remo in 1883, the
black coal was transported to San Remo by bullock teams. From there it
was conveyed to Melbourne. A charming trestle railway bridge, built in
1910, still stands 2 km south of Kilcunda.
Kilcunda Beach is a white sandy strand surrounded by rolling hills.
There are a few remnants from a coal mine which operated here from the
1870s, including a coal waste dump near the highway, an old steam
winch, two mining tunnels through the cliff face and a trestle railway
bridge (1910) which was part of the now dismantled line that connected
Nyora and the coal mine at Wonthaggi. Kilcunda Beach is suitable for
anglers and surfers though swimming is only recommended in the shallow
waters near the shoreline. Horse rides along the ocean beach are
available at the mouth of the Powlett River, on most days, with
Victorian Horse Treks, tel: (03) 9782 2749 or (0417) 347 954.