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Conservation Hill and Rhyll Inlet Walks

Home > Gippsland > Animals and Wildlife | Free | Outdoor | Parks | 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, or follow me on Instagram, @wordsfromawoodward
Published October 15th 2020
On the hunt for wetland wildlife

Tucked away on a corner of Phillip Island that's nothing like touristy Cowes, Rhyll seems to take life at a slower pace.

The Conservation Hill and Rhyll Inlet Walks offer a great place to get off the beaten track, to tread softly, and to appreciate Phillip Island's natural flora and fauna.

This little slice of Bunurong country peace and serenity would have looked very different, if a late 1960s marina development had gone ahead. The subsequent fight to save the Rhyll Inlet actually led to the formation of the Phillip Island Conservation Society, and the wetlands are listed as a Ramsar site of international importance.

Rhyll Inlet Walk Tree
Pointing the way on the Rhyll Inlet walk.

Now, you can stroll on boardwalks through the saltmarsh, past mangroves, and woodland areas. The paths are well-maintained, with chicken wire on the boardwalks to stop them getting too slippery, and meandering pathways of compacted granitic sand in drier areas. Once the track starts to climb, it doesn't really stop, but you can turn around at any point to easily retrace your steps back to the car park, so it's simple enough to choose the length of walk that you want to take on any given day.

Rhyll Inlet mangroves
The trail changes as you climb away from the mangroves.

The landscape around the inlet has been unmistakably altered (especially evident at the old Diamond Dolly quarry site) but nature is taking it back, and it looks like people have once more forged an easy truce with the wetland wildlife.

Information on what you are hearing and seeing is abundant. Plaques dotted along the trail tell the story of the inlet, pointing out the variations in landscape and vegetation as you walk through the different zones. This makes it a great walk for kids, or for anyone else wanting to learn more about the area.

Rhyll Inlet information plaque
Informative signs along the trail let you learn more about the wetland and its wildlife.

On a short weekend walk, we came across abundant birdlife, including a pair of black swans, egrets, and a mesmerising convergence of swallows diving and wheeling about a cliff face.

An echidna waddled shyly away through the undergrowth next to the path; and there was a bit of a traffic jam, as a swamp wallaby waited patiently for us to stop gawking and move on, so that it could cross the human trail before continuing on its way.

Willy wagtails darted across the path as we climbed towards the lookout point, and winding animal tracks led off into the bush in every direction.

The lookout platform itself was surrounded by tea tree in flower, and from up there we were treated to incredible views out towards French Island, and both sides of Western Port Bay.

Tea tree Rhyll Inlet
Blooming tea tree.

Location: Conservation Hill car park off the Cowes-Rhyll Road, Rhyll, or Beach Road, Rhyll.
Length of walk: Mangrove Boardwalk return 1.2 km
McIlwraith Road Lookout return 4.5 km
Rhyll Village return 7 km
Surface: Compacted granitic sand, boardwalk, grass.
Difficulty: Easy to moderate.
Toilets: Conservation Hill car park with designated accessible toilets available.
Wheelchair accessibility: Mangrove Boardwalk suitable.
Suitable for prams? Yes.
Bicycles permitted? Yes.
Dogs permitted? No.

Notes: At the time of writing, part of the Mangrove Boardwalk track was closed for maintenance.
Phillip Island is in regional Victoria, so put this one on your post-lockdown list if you're in metropolitan Melbourne.
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When: Any time.
Where: Rhyll, Phillip Island
Cost: Free.
Your Comment
Very informative article Emma. I love the boardwalk photos. I have a liking for boardwalks as the make for safe walking and protects the ground they cover.
by Neil Follett (score: 3|4546) 842 days ago
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