I have to be honest, I’d never even heard of the George Bass Coastal Walk until a few days before we embarked on it. We were looking for a good hike to do around Phillip Island, preferably at least a half day trek that would give us a chance to really stretch our legs. As we’d already done the Cape Woolomai walk on Phillip Island, there weren’t too many other options and it was looking a bit like we’d just be having a beach day instead. Then, just when we were about to give up, we decided to branch out away from Phillip Island and see what was on offer on the Bass Coast. It was, as it happens, a very smart choice.
Immediately we spotted the George Bass Coastal Walk, trailing along the stunning Bass Coast from Punchbowl Road to Kilcunda or vice versa. Listed at 7km one way (although our fitbits measured it at 16km return) the walk is a ‘there-and-back’ walk that can be started from either end. For us, it looked perfect. A solid half day at least of hiking in a stunning spot right along the coastline, it was an ideal way to take advantage of a warm day at the start of autumn.
We left from our place in Melbourne very early in the morning, to ensure we could start the walk not too long after sunrise. The drive is just under 2hrs from our house, although traffic (as we would find out on the way back) can seriously increase this. Instead of starting in Kilcunda, we opted to make a start from the Shelley Beach Carpark. The morning air was cold and fresh as we made our start, with the sun rising quickly behind us. We took our first steps on the well marked, fine gravel trail, and were almost immediately blown away by the views.
The George Bass Coastal Walk is probably one of the most beautiful coastal trails I’ve ever had the pleasure of walking. Of course, there are still a number of trails that Dean and I need to do in Victoria, not in the least of which is the Great Ocean Walk, so I may yet put that into perspective. But for now, with my feet still slightly sore from conquering the George Bass Coastal Walk, I can say this is one of my favourites.
This particular trail meanders along the Bass Coast cliffs in no rush to get anywhere in particular. There are sections of sand and a beach crossing, but most of the path is gravel in various sizes or well-trodden grass. For those not at the peak of their fitness, there are quite a few ups-and-downs along the way, which offer even more stunning views at the apex, but do make the kilometres feel that much harder under the feet. Plus, because it’s a there-and-back hike, with each hill you wander down, you know you’ll be struggling up it on the way back. We found that, for us, doing the George Bass Coastal Walk from Kilcunda to Punchbowl Road and back was ideal, but we met a fair number of people doing it in the other direction. I suppose it depends on your own preference, and next time we might park further into Kilcunda and extend our walk somewhat.
The George Bass Coastal Walk traverses a stunning coast, and with each turn and rise in the trail walkers are presented with secret beaches and coves that look more and more inviting as the trail progresses. Most of the beaches aren’t easily accessible, and those that are come with grave warnings about strong rips and undercurrents, so we didn’t swim. Instead we made our peace with looking down on the twinkling azure water as we meandered along the trails path through tall grasses. With the sun rising behind us, the entire thing felt much like a fairytale, with lots of golden light and the faraway sound of waves crashing onto a picturesque beach.
The Punchbowl Road end of the George Bass Coastal Walk has a fantastic little lookout point, from which we were able to survey the trail almost in its entirety. The water below the lookout was impossibly blue and turquoise, and oh so tempting as we contemplated the return hike. There’s really something amazing about Australia, and Dean and I talk about it all the time, particularly coming from the months we spent travelling in South East Asia. Australia has all these places, and the George Bass Coastal Walk is a great example, where beauty is just postcard perfect. Still, when you go there instead of masses and crowds, you get silence and space for introspection. Those off-the-beaten-path spots that everyone is madly looking for everywhere else, they are everywhere in Australia, and we feel so lucky to be able to experience them at our own leisure.
George Bass Coastal Walk Rating
A fantastic hike that takes walkers along one of Victoria’s most beautiful coastlines, the George Bass Coastal Walk is a must for wanderers visiting the Bass Coast.