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 Victoriaís beautiful Bass Coast which she now calls home.
Published October 15th 2019
Itís Free, Itís Fabulous, Itís Fun, Itís a River Wonderland
It would be an easy thing when visiting the Bass Coast to overlook Mouth of Powlett as a must-see destination. As the name suggests, this is the area at the tidal mouth of the Powlett River where the waters of the Bass Strait meet the river stream. This rich river estuary is listed as a wetland of national significance. It has so much to offer it would be a shame for it to be a locally held secret. How many of these 11 activities would you like to tick off your list?
Pipi shells at the river side - Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge
1. Sand Dune Sliding. Mouth of Powlett is renowned for its sand dunes. Children and adults alike are drawn to these slopes. Some are serious sand boarders and others just throw themselves downward. The dunes are steep enough for a good slide and low enough for an easy walk up. There seemed to be no limit to the number of times children will climb up to repeat that exhilarating few seconds of the slide. Climb them at least once for the view alone. The dunes are reached by swimming or wading across the river from the car park. There is also a wide grass track in from the other side of the river which is accessed from a bushland trail signposted on the Mouth of Powlett Road on the way down.
Sliding down the sand dunes is always fun - Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge
2. Fishing. Every time I've visited the Mouth of Powlett there has been somebody casting a line. Estuary perch, bream and mullet can be caught in the river. The perch and bream are more prevalent upstream of the bridge. The recommended bait is prawns to catch the bream and chicken to catch the mullet. The rips and rocks where the river meets the sea are also excellent for beach fishing.
Fishing is popular for adults and children alike at Mouth of Powlett - Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge
You can purchase bait at the Dalyston General Store at 4213 Bass Hwy, Dalyston (03) 5678 7250 which also sells coffee and fast foods or at Cargills Sports Store at 108 Graham St, Wonthaggi (03) 5672 1194.
Image from the Dalyston General Store Facebook Page
3. Beachcombing along the river can yield so much. Cuttlefish is common here. Pipi shells in a variety of colours, some a brilliant striated pink are often sighted. Sometimes long lines of brown seaweed border the banks. On my last visit, there was an abundance of anchor combs, the seedlings of wire weeds with short green leaves curled in circles and a hooked base like a tiny white comb. Sadly you might also encounter debris such as bottles, and plastics. A variety of shells can be sighted at the beach near the river mouth. What will you find if you keep your eyes to the ground? To help identify your finds, take a look at this handy Beachcombers Field Guide prepared in Western Australia but still quite relevant here.
Beachcombing at Mouth of Powlett - Photos copyright Gayle Beveridge
4. Canoeing, Kayaking, and Stand Up Paddle Boarding are often carried out on the river. On my last visit, a father and his young son had canoed towards the river mouth. They stopped for a slide on the sand dunes before rowing back upstream.
Canoeing upstream past the Mouth of Powlett Sand Dunes - Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge
5. Safe Swimming for Children. The river is a favourite for children from tiny tot paddlers to older kids. Quite shallow at times and without the rips and waves of the ocean it is an ideal setting for junior water play. It is recommended that the children keep to the river rather than the sea as Surf Lifesaving Australia advises that the ocean at Mouth of Powlett is dangerous.
Sand dunes reflecting in the river on a still day - Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge
6. Sand Castles are always a popular choice with the children. At the river's edge, they can collect wet sand from tranquil water to erect their castles. They can dig small trenches from their creations to water's edge and fill moats. Some of the more dedicated kids construct sandcastle villages while Mum and Dad watch from a relaxing seat in the sand.
7. Photography. How could shutterbugs resist the photogenic beauty of the area with its river and seascapes, sweeping sand dunes, and coastal bushland? And the mirror-like reflections, fellow shutterbugs, of the clouds and the sand dunes in the river on a still day are nothing short of magical. Low tide reveals the most spectacular of algae-covered rocks with strong geometric lines. Sunset across the river mouth and ocean has the distant Cape Woolamai in the background.
Sunset at the river mouth - Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge
Saltmarsh and coastal woodland vegetation are joined in spring by a variety of vibrant flowers. The ocean water lapping at the rocks at river's edge cries out for the long exposure shots that render ragged waves into dreamy white wisps. Astro and Milky Way photographers try to contain your excitement for here on a still night the beauty of the heavens above is reflected perfectly in the river.
Clouds reflecting in the river - Photo Copyright Gayle Beveridge
8. Birdwatching is popular throughout the Bass Coast and Mouth of Powlett is no exception. Rare birds such as hooded plover, eastern great egret and orange-bellied parrot can be found here. I have not been fortunate enough to spot these myself but have regularly seen royal spoonbills, white-faced heron, egrets, pacific gulls, silver gulls (the common seagull, of course), whistling kites, double-banded plovers, superb fairy wrens, noisy miners, little pied cormorants (shags), little black cormorants, great cormorants and magpies.
Bird life is prolific at Mouth of Powlett - Photos copyright Gayle Beveridge
9. Bushwalking. There are two short bush walks available in the area in addition to the walk from the Mouth of Powlett car park along the river banks to the beach. The longest of these is a bush and mown grass track running from bushland west of the river to the sand dunes. It is reached from Tea Tree Carpark Access Road which is a right-hand turn from Mouth of Powlett Road before you cross the bridge. The turn is marked by a Parks Victoria sign showing "Mouth of the Powlett River." This is an easy walk of just under a kilometre each way that takes you past the bend in the river where you will have views across a wide landscape. Parts or the mown grass track are edged with high reeds and grasses. Be aware there may be snakes in the area in the summer months as is the case with most nature walks. See the map below.
Map of the Mouth of Powlett area and bush walks courtesy of Google Maps-vert
The second is a short walk from the Mouth of Powlett car park. It runs parallel to the river and is well defined about half the way to the river mouth. Beyond that, you can pick your way along sandy tracks or move down to the river bank.
10. Rock Pools are uncovered by the receding tide. These crystal clear pools reveal a variety of seaweeds. Many of the rocks here are covered in a vivid green algae, which at times resembles green velvet. The rocks, particularly those that form the rock platform, are surprisingly geometric.
The rock shelf at the river mouth exposed by the low tide - Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge
11. Dog Walking is popular at Mouth of Powlett and why wouldn't it be. The walk from the car park to the ocean is a pleasant one which at the end opens up to long beaches. You and your furry friend will tire before you run out of space to walk. Dogs are required to be on leash. To find off-leash areas, check the Bass Coast Shire Council website under Where Can I Walk My Dog?
Dogs enjoy the river as much as their owners - Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge
Mouth of Powlett is on the Bass Coast south of the small town of Dalyston and is around an hour and three quarters from the Melbourne CBD along the South Gippsland and Bass Highways. From the Bass Highway, take Mouth of Powlett Road, Dalyston. Cross the bridge and when you see the marker for the caravan park take the right fork, don't go left to the caravan park. The right fork leads to a dirt car park at river's side.
The ocean near the river mouth - Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge