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Bass Coast Rail Trail

Home > Melbourne > Beaches | Cycling | Escape the City | Free | Walks
by Emma Woodward (subscribe)
From her garret somewhere on the Bass Coast, Emma writes for WeekendNotes, travel publications, and plumbing websites of note. Read more at, www.clippings.me/emmawoodward or follow me on Instagram, @wordsfromawoodward
Published March 12th 2023
See the best of the Bass Coast on foot
Bourne Creek Trestle Bridge


With coastal views, glimpses of history and tumbling hills (to look at, not climb) the 23km Bass Coast Rail Trail is definitely one to put on your holiday to-do list. The trail is wheelchair accessible in places, and if you're in the area, then walking, riding, cycling or running at least a small section of this track is an activity the whole family can enjoy.

Woolamai to Anderson (6km)

At this stage of the rails trail's development, I'd call this section an optional extra. There are some stunning views out over the rolling hills from this section of the trail, but although the Anderson end is easily accessible, at the Woolamai Racecourse the track ends abruptly with no real parking or facilities.

On some maps (Google is one) you'll see this trail marked as the Nyorra-Wonthaggi Rail Trail, however, the long stretch between Woolamai and Nyorra only exists on paper at this time.

Anderson to Kilcunda (4km)

Anderson makes a great starting point for your journey, with a car park, bus stop (including V/Line that you can catch from the CBD), bins and equestrian-friendly access, setting out from Anderson gives you a lot of options.

Bass Coast Rail Trail Anderson
Join the Bass Coast Rail Trail from Anderson.


Anderson Bass Coast Rail Trail
The car park in Anderson.


Heading out of the Anderson car park it's straight uphill. Sorry legs. The ochre path slowly meanders its way up and between the surrounding hills to disappear behind a windbreak of cypresses.

Around the bend is another stretch of path curving toward a bend shrouded by cypresses, and so on. Here and there you'll see bits of the old railway track; lengths of metal, timber posts and brick platforms.

A little way up the track you have the option to turn in for the Artfusion Gallery. You can see giant outdoor sculptures down the bank on your right in the gallery's backyard.

In some places, the path is raised, and you'll look down on the tops of swamp paperbarks as the ground falls away to either side with deep gullies at the bottom. In other sections, the path gradually sinks between its banks and suddenly you're travelling between solid rock, where the channel was carved for the old railway line. The Bass Highway and the surrounding farmland are somewhere away on either side, completely out of sight.

Anderson Rail Trail
The trail out of Anderson.


There is a fair amount of elevation on this section of trail (from 23m at the start, up to 67m elevation right before Kilcunda) but not nearly as much as you would expect if you've travelled the same route along the Bass Highway. The road between Anderson and Kilcunda heads up and down in rollercoaster fashion, but the Bass Coast Rail Trail clings stubbornly to the hills; making things much easier for your legs. Once the trail has made a climb it refuses to head into another valley, and it becomes evident how the high places and the cuttings have all been contrived to keep the line as level as possible.

While the trail continues fairly level, the hills around it continue to rise and fall away, and you'll be rewarded with glimpses of the denim-blue water of the ocean, and the distinctive shape of Cape Woolamai in the distance.

The path does slope gently upwards here (it's not without inclines) and if you look back you'll see a new and stunning view of Bass Strait, revealed by the parting hills.

Just before Kilcunda, there's a lookout with signs describing the historic coal mining site that the original railway served. From here on you'll be treated to incredible ocean views as the path descends towards Kilcunda.

Kilcunda Beach Bass Coast
The beaches in Kilcunda are beautiful.


Kilcunda to Wonthaggi (13km)

Kilcunda is the perfect place to stop for an ice-cream, some lunch, or even to stay the night. If you're determined to push through though, don't worry, some of the best attractions in Kilcunda are accessible from the Bass Coast Rail Trail.

The path winds down and crosses the Bass Highway to take you closer to the water, and it's at this point that you can link up to the George Bass Coastal Walk.

Continuing along the clifftops, you'll be spoilt for photo opportunities on this magnificent segment of the rail trail. Just when you think you've seen it all, the trail crosses a timber trestle bridge. Twelve metres tall and constructed in 1911, it offers incredible views of the ocean, Bourne Creek and the inland countryside.

Kilcunda Bass Coast
Kilcunda.


Eventually, reluctantly, the trail leaves the waterside and winds down towards Dalyston. Once you cross the Mouth of the Powlett Road, you'll see another small car park that makes a good access point for the trail.

This is one of the flatter and more exposed sections of the trail. The scrub to either side of the track is low, with only occasional outbreaks of she oaks, acacias and eucalypts to give a few metres of shade on summer days.

Windfarms in the distance.
Windfarms in the distance.


There are paddocks to either side and in some places, a crossover will show you that the trail is passing through a larger property. Horses and cattle crowd close to the fences and any shade from the trees there.

Powlett River Bass Coast
Powlett River.


It's a popular section of the track for both tourists and locals, and you're likely to hear a few cheerful good mornings as you make your way towards Wonthaggi. You'll cross three small bridges over creeks before reaching the main arm of the Powlett River. There's a launching spot beside the trail, and this is a popular place for fishing.

Dalyston Bass Coast
Dalyston Station?


Along this section of trail, you'll see more hints of the former railway line. A smooth area of concrete beside a rusty length of old track and some bricks showing through the grass seem to be all that remains of Dalyston Station.

The Bass Coast Rail Trail ends in Wonthaggi; a large country town where you can enjoy art galleries, cafes, market days, reminders of the town's history and more.
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Where: Woolamai to Wonthaggi
Cost: Free
Your Comment
Your story showcases more of Australia's remarkable landscapes. Great story
by Gillian Ching (score: 3|6413) 11 days ago
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