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 2nd 2016
The Views are Amazing and that's just the Beginning
Most Melburnians know Phillip Island on Victoria's beautiful Bass Coast is a great place to holiday, but just 10 minutes from the Island is the hidden gem that is Kilcunda. At only an hour and a half from Melbourne's CBD, not only is Kilcunda a great holiday base it has a lot to offer in its own right.
The dunes and beaches at Kilcunda seem to go on forever (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
1. Beaches The three beaches at Kilcunda are backed by grassy dunes and sandstone cliffs, fronted by intertidal rock flats and punctuated by rocky headlands. Directly across from the Ocean View Hotel and below the Ocean View Holiday Park the town beach also called Kilcunda West Beach is the most accessible.
Kilcunda East Beach is accessed from the Lionel Rose Car Park off the Bass Highway to the east of town and is my favourite walking beach.
A relaxing walk along a Kilcunda beach (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Shelly Beach is just west of town. Accessed via a signed car track running off the Bass Highway it is the more secluded of the three and is bounded by two picturesque rocky headlands.
All the beaches are good for fishing but are unpatrolled and swimmers should only enter in calm conditions and exercise caution to avoid rocks, rips and reefs. I have seen surfers at all the beaches, but it is said to be best to the west of Shelly Beach. Kilcunda West and Kilcunda East beaches have public toilets. Dogs are permitted on the beaches but must be on a leash.
Kilcunda beaches, the rail trail and the facilities at the foreshore BBQ and picnic area (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
2. BBQs, Picnics and a Children's Playground There is a large gravel car park, BBQ and picnic area, and children's playground above the town beach. Open area picnic tables offer sweeping views over the Kilcunda dunes and across Bass Strait. BBQs and preparation tables are provided in a covered shelter and there are public toilets. There is a general store across the road where you can top up on provisions and get a well-deserved coffee.
The children's playground offers a multi-platform unit with steps, ramps, two slides, a cubby under, a monkey bar, and two climbing nets. For the toddlers, there is a spring rocker in the shape of a fish, a purple and pink seated turntable and a babies' swing. The swing set also has a swing for older children. There is a climbing wall of many colours shaped like two rows of tyres stacked on end. The playground surface is mulched and there are soft rubber mats beneath the swings.
The beachside playground at Kilcunda (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
3. Swim Safely Kilcunda's beaches are unpatrolled and swimmers are urged to enter only when waters are calm. Rips, reefs and slippery rocks, are all hazards. For safe swimming head to the mouth of the Powlett River which can be accessed from the Mouth Of Powlett Road, off the Bass Highway east of town. The river provides a relatively sheltered area for swimming in the shallow waters near where the river enters the ocean. Kilcunda's signature dunes rise above the mouth of the river where views of both the river and the ocean are spectacular.
4. Rail Trail and Coastal Walk You don't have to be an exercise enthusiast to enjoy the Bass Coast Rail Trail although avid walkers and bike riders will be delighted. The fine gravel trail for walkers, cyclists and horse riders begins in Wonthaggi 12kms to the east and proceeds through Kilcunda to Anderson, a total distance of 23kms.
Riding the Bass Coast Rail Trail (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
A recreational walk to the east from the town picnic ground carpark will take you across the historic trestle bridge where you will be treated to spectacular views across Bass Strait on the one side and the rolling Bass Coast hills on the other.
To the west the Rail Trail joins with the George Bass Coastal Walk, a 7km scenic cliff top walk from Kilcunda to San Remo.
5. Explore the Rock Pools The intertidal rocks that front the beaches provide an abundance of rock pools to explore. What might you find there? Clusters of shell fish, tiny crabs, sea snails, small fish or seaweed floating in crystal clear pools. Perhaps there will be starfish.
This is a wonderland that will keep the children captivated for hours. When the tide is out the rock pools seem to go on forever.
What might you find in a Kilcunda rock pool (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Don't forget your fishing gear. Beach and rock fishing are popular at Kilcunda. Shore fishermen can look forward to salmon, trout, and yellow-eyed mullet. For the early risers and evening enthusiasts gummy and school shark are possibilities. Powlett River fishermen might snag bream, perch, mullet, and salmon.
If fishing is you passion and you want to sample more of the area click here for a Bass Coast 'Where to Fish' guide and here for the updates on the best fishing times.
Surf fishing is a popular pastime at Kilcunda (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Reportedly the best place for surfing at Kilcunda is off Black Head, on the west side of Shelly Beach where there is a good right hand reef break. Kilcunda's exposed beaches and reef breaks provide reliable surf. Click here for current forecasts ad surf ratings. As always safety is paramount and surfers need to be wary of Kilcunda's strong rips.
8. Paragliding and Hang Gliding
I was taking a casual walk along the beach at Kilcunda one afternoon and glanced up to see a hang glider soaring calmly above the cliffs. He was for a time shadowed by a large bird and I wondered if it was a wedge tailed eagle which are common in the area.
A hang glider soars above the Kilcunda dunes (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Hang gliders can take off from the cliffs to the west of the graveyard (just east of town). Hang gliding from this site can be tricky in light winds and winds of 15 knots or more are preferable. Gliders need to be mindful of fishermen and fishing poles upon landing on the beach.
Paragliders will find a better launch spot about 150m further east where dunes are lower and the area is less overgrown.
Click here for a site guide from the Hang Gliding Federation of Australia.
9. Camping, Caravanning and Other Accommodation
Although Kilcunda is a small town with a population of just over 300 there are a number of accommodation options.
The Ocean View Holiday Retreat is on the beach side of the Bass Highway and offers luxury ocean view villas, cabins, and caravan and camp sites. On top of the cliff overlooking the town beach and Bass Strait, the retreat is ideally situated. A stay in one of the ocean front villas is on my bucket list; I'm told the views are to die for.
Enjoy spectacular scenery from these ocean view villas (Photo from Kilcunda Oceanview Holiday Retreat Facebook Page)
The Kilcunda Ocean View Motel is on the Bass Highway next to the Hotel and across the road from the town beach. The motel has 13 rooms available, 7 of which were recently added.
Airbnb lists some holiday homes available in Kilcunda and the surrounding areas.
10. Enjoy Good Food and Drinks
What holiday would not be enhanced with some good food and drink and that's exactly what you'll find at Kilcunda.
The Ocean View Hotel, known locally as The Killy offers a varied lunch and dinner menu, locally sourced wines and Australian beers. On Sundays there is live entertainment. In the cooler months from May to September meals are Thursday to Sunday only.
The Kilcunda General Store doubles as a café and restaurant and opens at 7am for breakfast. Ideally situated on the Bass Highway across the road from the town beach the store serves up a hearty menu in rustic country surrounds so stop by for a meal of just for a coffee.
Enjoy a hearty meal (Photo form Kilcunda General Store Facebook Page)
Kilcunda is not just amazing beach and countryside, it also has a rich history, some of which remains today.
The Bourne Creek Timber Trestle Bridge protected by the National Trust is best viewed from the town beach. It is a single track, 15 span bridge, 91 metres long and 12 metres high at its maximum which formed part of the Wonthaggi-Woolamai Rail Line. First used in 1911, it remained in service until 1978 and is preserved today as part of the Bass Coast Rail Trail. The bridge is now used by pedestrians and cyclists.
The Bourne Creek Bridge at Kilcunda (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
The Kilcunda Ocean View Hotel has existed on the site for over a century with the current premises having been built in 1930.
Lionel Rose ex bantamweight boxing world champion had a training camp at Kilcunda. The car park at the Kilcunda East Beach has been named in his honour.
Kilcunda is a hidden treasure. You'll fall in love with it; I did. It is situated on the Bass Highway 120kms or one and a half hours from the Melbourne CBD. Visit anytime but if you are planning to stay it pays to book ahead as accommodation is at a premium in school holidays and when special events are on around the Bass Coast and on Phillip Island. Check the accommodation and eatery websites on the links above for current costings. Picnic and BBQ facilities and proximity to Melbourne set this up as a cheap day trip. For more information check out the Visit Bass Coast website or telephone 1300 854 334.