Gayle Beveridge is a past winner of the Boroondara Literary Awards and her work has appeared in Award Winning Australian Writing. Gayle is passionate about family, writing, photography, and with Victoria’s beautiful Bass Coast which she now calls home.
Published July 22nd 2016
Like the Great Ocean Road, Only Shorter
The Bunurong Coastal Drive which presents some of Victoria's most spectacular coastal scenery has been described as a mini Great Ocean Road. Running for 14kms from Cape Paterson to Inverloch this scenic cliff top drive gives views over rugged coastal cliffs, rocky headlands, and sandy beaches to Bass Strait on the one side and the rolling rural hills of the Bass Coast on the other.
The Beach at Shack Bay (Photo Copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Whatever you do, don't forget your camera. There are some seriously good lookout areas where you can stretch your legs, take in the views or go for a walk on the beach. The drive itself will only take around 15 minutes but you could easily spend all day exploring the stops along the way.
1. The Oaks is your first stop after Cape Paterson. An off road carpark gives access to a lookout and to a coastal walking track. Gaze out over vegetated sandstone cliffs to a stretch of sandy beach between two headlands. Sand gives way to flat rocks beneath the cliffs. It is typical of the breathtaking Bass Coast.
The Beach at Twin Reefs (Photo Copyright Gayle Beveridge)
2. Twin Reefs is next. Keep an eye out for the tourist signs, there is not much distance between stops. An off road gravel carpark give access to a lookout. From the lookout glance back toward Cape Paterson where rocky headlands reach out to the ocean. A sandy beach sits below the sandstone cliffs and at low tide, rocks beneath the water are visible. There is a walking track to the beach which is a little steep and perhaps not suitable for everyone to traverse.
At the Lookout at Twin Reefs (Photo Copyright Roger Marien)
3. Shack Bay will give you a first glance at Eagle's Nest, a rock formation that looks a little like the top end of a map of Australia. Look to the east in the direction of Inverloch past the headlands and just a little out to sea is the rock.
The Rugged Cliffs at Shack Bay (Photo Copyright Gayle Beveridge)
The rocky headlands here are perhaps the most rugged on this drive and waves crash against them giving some sensational displays. A set of wooden stairs stretch down to the beach. There are a lot of steps but there is a platform about half way down with seating. As I walked down I could hear fairy wrens in the brush and later found them hopping about on the sandy beach. Near the base of the stairs a creek runs from the scrub to the ocean.
On the Beach at Shack Bay (Photo Copyright Gayle Beveridge)
4. Eagle's Nest is considered by some to be the icing on the cake. Parking here is in marked bays on the bitumen. There is a grassed area with undercover information boards and limited seating. To the right an earth track to the lookout is wheelchair friendly, and leads through low lying coastal vegetation along the cliff tops. Pacific Gulls soar above the cliffs and New Holland Honey Eaters can be seen in the low coastal shrubs. Directly in front of the lookout is Eagle's Nest itself. When I visited a Great Cormorant was perched atop it.
Eagles Nest Viewed from Shack Bay (Photo Copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Rugged coastal cliffs give way to sand beaches on both sides and the town of Inverloch is visible in the distance. The lookout has steel railing and plenty of space for larger groups. Back at the car park and the track to the left leads down a long set of wooden stairs to the beach.
One of the Tips of Eagles Nest (Photo Copyright Gayle Beveridge)
5. The Caves is the last of the lookouts. Like the others there is off road parking but here you will also find a guided walkway. Sometimes referred to as The Smugglers' Caves this area has a low tide surprise when sandy floor caverns become accessible. Do take care if you go exploring, the area floods at high tide.
Looking East towards Inverloch from Eagle's Nest (Photo Copyright Gayle Beveridge)
The Bunurong Coastal drive begins at Cape Paterson via Wonthaggi and runs for 14kms along the Inverloch-Cape Paterson Road to Inverloch. Click here for a Parks Victoria 'Enjoying Bunurong Coast' brochure and map. At around 140kms and an hour and fifty minutes from Melbourne's CBD or little more than an hour from Melbourne's outer south eastern suburbs this is comfortable day trip. Should you decide to stay over there are accommodation and dining options in Wonthaggi, Cape Paterson and Inverloch. For more information contact the Inverloch Information Centre on 1300 762 433 or go to the Visit Bass Coast website.