Hikes & Trails

The George Bass Coastal Walk: From Clifftops to Sandy Shores

POSTED ON June 28, 2023 BY Ralph S.


Introduction

The George Bass Coast Walk is one of Australia’s few walks that can take you from dramatic cliff-top walks to pristine, secluded shores. Stretching about 8.18 km one way (16.36 km round trip) along the coast of Victoria’s Bass Coast and Phillip Island, this stunning walk offers unique beauty with its almost iridescent green hills spotted with wildflowers and knee-high grass.

Along the walk, visitors will be treated to different scenes of rocky headlands, woodland gullies, and coastal gullies with sweeping views of the wild ocean.

Starting at Kilcunda General Store, you’ll find yourself on a track nestled cosily between almost iridescent green hills, which gradually give way to a rugged coastline.

You can then take a dip in the wild ocean or simply sit and watch the whales make their way up and down the coastline. The other end of the walk is Cape Paterson, offering lovely views of Point Norman Beach.

With energy reserves replenished, the walk will soon come to an end at Kilcunda, with each step offering more unique beauty than the last. There are few walks in Australia that can offer such sweeping views and diverse scenery, starting from Kilcunda to Cape Paterson. – Come experience it for yourself. It’s a great way to explore the local area and take in some of Australia’s most beautiful beaches.

Phillip Island Nature Park

History of the George Bass Coastal Walk

The history of the George Bass Coastal Walk is as rich and diverse as the landscapes it traverses. This captivating trail, located along the stunning Bass Coast Shire in Australia, offers a glimpse into the region’s past while showcasing its unique beauty.

Tucked away in the picturesque town of San Remo (location), the walk’s origins can be traced back to the historic Bass Coast Rail Trail. This rail trail, once a bustling transport network, now serves as the foundation for the George Bass Walk, inviting visitors to explore the area’s rugged shores and almost iridescent green hills.

As you set off from the Kilcunda General Store, a sense of anticipation builds. The trail unfolds before you, leading you through coastal gullies and knee-high grass. The walk dips and winds, revealing tucked-away coves and pristine beaches. The sandy shores beckon, offering a serene escape from the bustle of daily life.

A dogs-permitted trail links the Punchbowl Coastal Reserve (location), where the wild ocean crashes against rocky outcrops. Here, you can witness the annual pilgrimage of whales (usually from November till May) making their way along the Bass Strait. The coastal gullies give way to woodland gullies, with each turn in the track offering sweeping views of the sea.

Approaching the southern end, Cape Paterson comes into view. Its beautiful beach and happy cows grazing in the fields create a picturesque backdrop. Locals and visitors alike frequent these lovely shores, accessing the track from various points.

Whether you’re walking for exercise or leisure, the energy reserves of the coastline are sure to rejuvenate you. Rest stops nestled cosily along the way provide perfect vantage points for appreciating the scenery. After a day of strolling, the Kilcunda pub awaits, offering a hearty lunch and a chance to unwind.

The George Bass Coastal Walk encapsulates the essence of Australia’s coastal beauty, connecting the past with the present. This journey, punctuated by dramatic cliffs, sandy shores, and tucked-away parks, is a testament to the enduring appeal of the Bass Coast.

Key Facts about the George Bass Coastal Walk

Length: Approximately 8.18 km one way (16.36 km round trip) or you could do Kilcunda to Sandy Waterhole (4.6km one-way)

Time: About 2 hours ( about 4 hours roundtrip)

Difficulty: Intermediate-to-Difficult

Start: Punch Bowl Road. car park, San Remo
Finish: Bass Highway., Kilcunda

Permits/bookings: None required

Trail Overview: Difficulty Levels and Directions

The George Bass Coastal Walk is suitable for a range of fitness levels, making it accessible for various hikers. The trail’s overall difficulty can be described as moderate, with some challenging sections.

Transitioning from the Bass Coast Rail Trail, the walk presents an opportunity to explore diverse scenery, from dramatic cliffs to iridescent green hills.

This walk runs between the gorgeous coastal towns of San Remo and Kilcunda, offering some of the best views of Victoria’s coastline. The panoramic views are evident along the entire track, with the ocean always within sight.

The hike commences near San Remo, leading through inviting cafes and car parks before immersing hikers in the pristine beauty of secluded shores. The trail dips and winds, sometimes traversing knee-high grass and coastal gullies, requiring moderate agility.

As you walk, you’ll encounter the wild ocean of Bass Strait, dramatic cliffs, and tucked-away coves with rocky outcrops. These features add a touch of challenge to the hike. Along the way, you might even spot a local kangaroo mob feeding in the woodlands.

While the path undeniably offers sweeping views of the sea and a captivating landscape, it’s important to be aware of potential hazards. Some sections might have uneven terrain, and weather conditions can change swiftly. So it is important to check Bass’s weather forecast before embarking on your journey.

Approaching the southern end, the hike eases into more gentle terrain, providing a chance to refuel and enjoy the unique beauty of the Bass Coast. The trail’s energy reserves offer moments of rest and rejuvenation.

The walk culminates near Kilcunda, a serene spot perfect for relaxation.

Australian Shoreline

Route options

This walk is the perfect day trip for those staying in Melbourne, offering a variety of directions to suit hikers’ preferences.

It’s an easy one-hour drive from central Melbourne or a short ferry ride from Philip Island. The trail is well-marked throughout, so it’s hard to get lost. You can take the trail at your own pace, and there are plenty of opportunities to take breaks, enjoy the scenery, and take photos.

One popular option is Kilcunda to Sandy Waterhole (location), which starts at the Kilcunda General Store and traverses 4.6 km one way (9.2km round trip). This section presents picturesque views of the shore while passing through almost iridescent green hills. Dogs are permitted on the trail, making it ideal for families. The approximate walking time for this section of the walk is 2 hours.

The beginning can be accessed from San Remo’s Punch Bowl Rd. car park (location), a short drive from the town’s inviting cafes. Starting from the car park, this 8.18 km one-way journey (16.36km round trip) takes hikers along a rugged shoreline dotted with pristine beaches and coves. Here, you can experience a dramatic clifftop walk as well as find some of the few walks in Australia where whales are regularly spotted making their way through Bass Strait. The approximate trekking time for this section is 2 hours.

The full George Bass Coastal Walk links together these two sections, giving hikers an opportunity to find pristine beaches and experience the unique beauty of Australia’s coast.

No matter the direction, the George Bass Walk offers an unforgettable journey in one of Australia’s most beautiful coastal regions.

Seasonal Considerations: Best Times to Hike and Weather Conditions

Nestled along the enchanting Bass Coast of Australia, the George Bass offers a journey that’s not only defined by its dramatic cliff-top trail and rugged shoreline but also shaped by the ever-changing embrace of the elements.

As you traverse the trail, from San Remo to Kilcunda, you’ll find that each season paints a unique picture of this captivating landscape, transforming the experience with its own climate and weather characteristics.

Rugged coastline in Phillips island

Spring (September – November)

Spring arrives with a burst of life along the Bass Coast, awakening the almost iridescent green hills that pepper the landscape. As you embark on this journey, expect mild temperatures ranging from 12°C to 22°C (54°F to 72°F).

The air is crisp, and the wild ocean takes on a renewed energy, crashing against the rocky outcrops that frame the shoreline. The coastal gullies come alive with colorful blooms, and you can spot local kangaroo mob feeding amidst the knee-high grass.

Spring is a prime time for hiking George Bass because the walks offer a myriad of diverse scenery and tucked-away coves waiting to be explored.

Summer (December – February)

Summer casts a warm and inviting spell on the Bass Coast, bringing temperatures of 18°C to 26°C (64°F to 79°F).

The sandy shores are an irresistible invitation to cool off in the crystal-clear waters. With the sun painting the landscape in golden hues, the George Bass Walk dips seamlessly into the inviting cafes of the towns, offering the perfect pit stops.

You will find pristine beaches and Punch Bowl coves, providing a unique vantage point to witness the playful whales making their journey along the coast.

Fall (March-May)

As fall graces the Bass Coast, the temperatures cool slightly, ranging from 11°C to 20°C (52°F to 68°F).

The woodland gullies and coastal scenery are resplendent with warm tones as the foliage transforms. The energy reserves of the trail remain abundant, and you might even spot happy cows grazing in the fields as you approach Kilcunda.

This season is an excellent time for a quieter hike, with the footpath nestled cosily between the lingering warmth of summer and the anticipation of winter.

Winter (June – August)

The Bass Coast takes on a tranquil charm in winter, with temperatures ranging from 8°C to 14°C (46°F to 57°F).

The coast still offers awe-inspiring views of the sea, but the rhythm of the waves seems to slow down, creating a serene atmosphere. The George Bass Walk remains open and accessible, offering a different perspective of the landscape. As you reach the end of Kilcunda, the ocean whispers its tales to the shore, creating a peaceful backdrop for your journey.

Bass Coast

Recommended Gear

Remember, embarking on a journey along the George Bass Coastal Walk is an opportunity to connect with the captivating landscapes of the Bass Coast

Having the right gear can enhance your experience and ensure a safe and enjoyable adventure as you traverse the dramatic cliff-top walk and rugged coastline.

Here’s a list of recommended gear to consider packing for your trip:

  1. Comfortable Footwear: Sturdy hiking shoes or trail runners are essential for navigating the diverse terrain, from sandy shores to rocky outcrops. Make sure your footwear offers good grip and ankle support. Here is a guide to help you choose the perfect shoes.
  2. Appropriate Clothing: Dress in layers to adapt to changing weather conditions. Lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing is ideal for comfort during your hike. A hat and sunglasses will provide protection from the sun.
  3. Backpack: A daypack is useful for carrying essentials like drinking water, snacks, a first aid kit, sunscreen, and insect repellent.
  4. Hydration System: Staying hydrated is crucial, especially during warmer months. Bring a refillable water bottle or a hydration bladder.
  5. Navigation Tools: While the trail is well-marked, having a map, compass, or GPS device can provide an extra layer of security.
  6. Camera: Capture the stunning vistas and iridescent green hills along the way. A camera or smartphone with a good camera can help you preserve your memories.
  7. Binoculars: If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of local kangaroo mobs, local wildlife, or spot whales making their journey along the coast, binoculars with a zoom lens can enhance your experience.
  8. Dog Essentials: If you’re hiking with your furry friend, bring a leash, water, and waste bags. Note that dogs are permitted on some sections of the trail. Also, check out our guide to hiking & backpacking with dogs to know what is needed.
  9. Picnic Supplies: Pack a light lunch or snacks to enjoy at scenic points or at the Kilcunda end, where you’ll find a charming coastal pub. Please check out the 25 most delicious backpacking food ideas.
  10. Weather-Appropriate Gear: Check the Bass weather forecast before your hike and pack accordingly. A light rain jacket or windbreaker might come in handy.
  11. Personal Identification and Emergency Contact: Keep your identification and emergency contact information in your pack.

Preparing for the Trail: Physical Fitness and Safety Tips

Embarking on this walk is a thrilling opportunity to connect with nature’s wonders along the Bass Coast of Australia. It’s important to prepare physically and prioritize safety to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Here’s a comprehensive guide to getting ready for this remarkable journey:

Physical Fitness

  1. Assess Your Fitness: The George Bass Walk offers a range of terrains, from sandy shores to rocky outcrops. Evaluating your fitness level beforehand will help you choose the most suitable sections to explore.
  2. Train Accordingly: Incorporate cardiovascular exercises, strength training, and flexibility workouts into your routine. Hiking uphill and downhill will challenge your leg muscles, so focus on building lower body strength. You’ll get helpful information in our guide to getting in shape for hiking.
  3. Practice Hiking: If you’re new to hiking, start with shorter trails to build stamina and get accustomed to uneven terrain. Gradually increase the duration and difficulty of your hikes.
  4. Stay Hydrated and Energized: Hydration and nutrition are crucial. Maintain a balanced diet and bring energy-boosting snacks to keep your energy reserve high in case you need to detour or pause for any reason during the hike.

Safety Tips

  • Before you set out, check the weather forecast for the day. Weather conditions can change quickly along the coast, so be prepared for varying conditions.
  • Let a friend or family member know about your hiking plans, including your intended route and estimated return time. This is a vital safety precaution.
  • Stay on the Trail: The trail is well-marked and offers entry to Kilcunda’s charming pub, linking Punchbowl Road and the Bass Coast Highway and offering a range of diverse scenery to explore. However, remember to take your time on the trail and
  • Familiarize yourself with local emergency numbers and the nearest points of access, such as towns, car parks, and the Kilcunda pub.
  • Engage with locals respectfully and adhere to any guidelines they provide. The coastal communities play an important role in maintaining the area’s natural beauty.

Phillip Island seashore

Where to Stay Near the George Bass Coastal Walk

The George Bass Walk is conveniently located near the towns of Kilcunda and San Remo, both of which offer a range of accommodation options for hikers. So, finding the perfect place to stay is a crucial part of ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable experience as you plan your adventure.

Here’s a guide to accommodation options along the trail and in nearby areas:

San Remo

Located at the beginning of the George Bass Coastal Walk, San Remo offers a variety of accommodation choices. You’ll find options that suit your preferences and budget, whether you prefer a cozy bed and breakfast, a beachfront hotel, or a self-contained apartment.

Staying in San Remo also allows you to explore the town’s inviting cafes, soak in the beauty of the iridescent green hills spotted with wildflowers, and enjoy easy entry to the trail’s starting point.

Kilcunda General Store and Secluded Beach Area

Kilcunda General Store, nestled next to the sea, offers a few walks that link Punchbowl Road and the Bass Coast Highway. It is here that you will find a sandy beach, along with iridescent Green hills spotted along the way. The store also provides entry to a secluded beach, which is perfect for post-hike relaxation and picnics.

Also, consider staying here for a unique and rustic experience. This area is perfect for travelers seeking a quieter retreat close to nature. You’ll wake up to the sound of the sea and enjoy the proximity to the secluded beach.

However, accommodation options might be limited in this area.

Cape Paterson and Phillip Island

Venturing further along the trail, you’ll find Cape Paterson and Phillip Island, both offering a range of accommodation options.

These areas provide an ideal base for exploring the region, from beachside cabins to holiday homes with amazing views of the sea. The Island, in particular, offers several accommodations, making it a convenient option for those looking to continue their adventure after completing the George Bass Walk.

Cape Paterson Bay

Kilcunda End and Local Stays

Reaching the Kilcunda end of the trail opens up opportunities to stay in this charming coastal village.

Here, you’ll find the charming coastal pub, offering lunch and dinner options, as well as inviting cafes in town. You can also take the annual pilgrimage to Cape Paterson and Phillip Island, both of which offer amazing views of the coast. The walks offer a variety of terrain, and dogs are allowed on some sections.

Dog-Friendly Accommodation

If you’re traveling with your furry friend, make sure to inquire about dog-friendly accommodations. Some areas and nearby towns offer options where your canine companion is welcomed with open arms. Make sure to check out our guide about hiking with dogs.

Getting There: Directions and Transportation Options

Getting to the George Bass Coastal Walk is an exciting step towards immersing yourself in the beauty of Australia’s coast.

As you plan your trip to this stunning destination, it’s important to know how to get there and the best ways to get around the area to make the most of your experience.

Here’s a guide to help you reach and explore its enchanting surroundings:

Nearest Airports

The nearest major airports are Melbourne Airport (Tullamarine Airport) and Avalon Airport. These airports offer a range of domestic and international flights, making them convenient entry points for travelers.

From Melbourne Airport, you can choose various transportation options to reach the trail.

From Melbourne Airport to the Trail

Rental Car: Renting a car from the airport is a convenient option if you plan to explore the area and its nearby towns. The drive to the Bass Coast region takes approximately 2 to 2.5 hours, offering sweeping views along the way.

Public Transport: If you prefer public transportation, you can take a SkyBus from Melbourne Airport to Southern Cross Station in the city center (direction). From there, catch a train to Dandenong (direction), where you can transfer to a V/Line train to reach Wonthaggi (direction). Once in Wonthaggi, you can continue your journey to San Remo and the trail (direction). It is a 21-minute drive (14 miles/23 km) via the Bass Highway/B460.

Getting Around the George Bass Coastal Walk

Car: Having a car gives you the flexibility to explore the Bass Coast and its charming towns at your own pace. There are parking areas available near the trail’s starting points and various entry points.

Local Transport: The town of San Remo, at the beginning of the trail, offers entry to local transportation options. Buses and shuttles might be available to take you to different points along the trail.

Walking: Once you’re on the trail, walking is the primary mode of transportation. The George Bass Coastal Walk links to various walkable areas, from inviting cafes and tucked-away coves to sandy beaches and woodland gullies.

Cycling: The George Bass Trail accommodates cyclists who are looking to explore the trail and nearby areas with their bikes. The trail is relatively flat, making it accessible to cyclists of varying skill levels. As you cycle along the trail, you’ll be treated to a visual feast of the wild expanse of the Bass Strait. Nearby towns like San Remo (location) and Wonthaggi (location) offer bike rental services, including mountain bikes and hybrid bikes suitable for the trail’s mixed terrain.

As you navigate your journey, keep an eye out for the iridescent green hills spotted with wildflowers and the promise of pristine shorelines. The trail offers sweeping views of the coast, nestled between the sea and the woodland gullies.

Conclusion

Southern New South Wales is among the hidden gems that Australia has to offer. With spectacular coastlines, charming rural towns, and an abundance of natural attractions, this region is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.

If you’re looking for an epic walk that will give you fantastic coastal views and wildlife encounters, the George Bass Coastal Walk is the perfect distance. This trail is a well-kept secret that leads hikers through some of the most magnificent coastal scenery in the country.

Don’t miss the chance to explore this spectacular region while enjoying some exercise, fresh air, and bushland.


RALPH S.

Ralph S. is the founder of Silverlight, an avid hiker and trail runner he enjoys spending time outdoors, riding his motorcycle and swimming at the beach when he's not busy replying to customers or developing new Silverlight gear.

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