The perfect spot for a mid-winter getaway.
The pastoral plains of the Bass Coast in south-west Gippsland are home to farmers and growers of many persuasions. From sheep, cows, pigs and chooks, to nut and olive groves, market gardens and vineyards, it’s a veritable food bowl relatively undiscovered by weekend adventurers.
Low rolling hills of vibrant green pastures give way to a lush coastline studded with native seaside shrubs. The striking headlands and sandy coves hug the Bunurong Marine Park. The protected rocky platforms and underwater reefs support many species of plants and animals, as well as some prehistoric natural history – Australia’s first dinosaur bone was discovered here at Eagle’s Nest.
There’s a strong sense of community here, with the fruits of the farmers celebrated on cafe menus and in boutique grocers, as are the drops of the region’s winemakers.
Grasp any opportunity (and a handful of wood-fire sourdough) to try the creamy creations of the region’s cheesemakers (particularly the blues), and stock up on provisions for your pantry – you won’t find many of these small-batch makers in the city.
It’ll take you just shy of two hours to reach Kilcunda from Melbourne via the South Gippsland and Bass highways.
Welcome to Gippsland Coast – Kilcunda to Inverloch
Local farmers and producers are truly championed among the cafes, grocers and cellar doors of this fertile region.
From cool-climate wines in cosy cellar doors, to cold beers in prime-sunset locations – and good coffee in between.
Take to the Bass Strait’s sweeping coastline by foot, two wheels or four. There are walking trails and plentiful rock pools to keep the nature-curious active between meals.
George Bass Coastal Walk
This seven-kilometre trail extends from Kilcunda to San Remo. It’s a two-hour one-way walk that winds along the coast and rewards with incredible views of rock formations, sandstone cliffs and secluded beaches shrouded by native flora, the striking blue of the Bass Strait for backdrop. The trail moseys from grass and rocks to sand underfoot, and you can duck down to a few beaches along the way. Spotted on our visit: one rabbit, one seal, one snake (a tiny one that slithered away), one blue-tongue lizard, and many, many butterflies. Pick up homemade quiches, sausage rolls, salads and cakes from the Kilcunda General Store to enjoy a picnic lunch on the beach part way, then return to sink a cold one at The Killy Pub.
Bass Coast Fat Bikes
While living in Alice Springs, Chris Baillie got hooked on cycling up and down huge dunes and along sandy river beds. He’s brought a little of his favourite desert pastime to Kilcunda, where he hosts beach cycling tours. The bikes here have slightly deflated tyres for gliding across the sand dunes, making the tours suitable for both casual and keen cyclists. Tours encircle either 10, 24 or 44 kilometres of the coastline, taking in sights from the Kilcunda Trestle Bridge to the mouth of the Powlett River, Wonthaggi Heathlands, Wonthaggi Wind Farm and the Bass Coast Rail Trail.
Inverloch Surf Beach
This long stretch of sand extends from Point Norman at the mouth of Anderson Inlet all the way to Wreck Creek near Flat Rocks. You can park at the Inverloch Surf Life Saving Club, and take to the water from here where the beach is patrolled. This sheltered beach is perfect for beginner surfers finding their balance (or little ones eager to learn) as the waves are mostly quite small. It’s a popular spot to swim in warmer months, and for casting a line into the tidal channel year-round.
Bunurong Coastal Drive
This 14-kilometre stretch of road curves along the coast from Inverloch to Cape Paterson. While this road might only take 15 minutes to drive if you’re using it as a thoroughfare, it’s worth taking the time to stop at each dedicated car park along the way and explore the walking trails and sandy coves below. Pause-worthy points include The Caves, Eagles Nest (where the first dinosaur bone in Australia was discovered), Shack Bay, Twin Reefs and The Oaks – some for panoramic views from the lookout, and some for jaunting down to the seashore to explore the rocky headlands.
From a penthouse by the ocean to an historic bed and breakfast, lodgings on the Bass Coast are peppered with saunas and fireplaces prepped and ready to keep you toasty after dark.
Kilcunda to Inverloch
The Bass Strait makes for a striking backdrop to a weekend away at any time of year. Indulge in delicious wines and provisions by passionate local makers between coastal explorations.