Gayle is a retired accountant and a photography enthusiast living on Victoria's beautiful Bass Coast. Gayle is passionate about writing and keen to showcase Aussie culture to a global audience. Gayle loves her family, dogs, sunsets, and chocolate.
Published August 24th 2016
These Paths Have Been Walked For More Than 100 Years
There is no better way to really see a town than on foot. This is certainly true of Wonthaggi where the streets of the business district are home to much of the town's history, art and culture. This easy walking tour is my take on the points of interest. See heritage buildings, art, poetry, historic items and memorials. Throughout the walk you will pass some of Wonthaggi's many coffee shops and eateries, you may be tempted to take a break or two.
The magnificent McBride Avenue Vista. (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Start your walk at the corner of Edgar Street and McBride Avenue.
The Air Observer Site at the top end of Wishart Reserve commemorates not only the volunteers who served in the Wonthaggi Air Observers Corp between 1942 and 1945 but also the home citizens who served Australia during WWII. An information board displays some historic photos. A park seat set in a portion of a plane's casing is fronted by a cement apron containing a mosaic with the Observer emblem. Take a seat for a moment, the view towards the town business district is impressive.
Back of front of the seat at Air Observers Site in Wishart Reserve (Photos copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Walk along Wishart Reserve to the corner of Baillieu Street and McBride Avenue.
The War Memorial at the Baillieu Street end of the reserve comprises a white angular monument and two canons. On the left side of the monument is the Wonthaggi WWI roll of honour, and on the right, the WWII roll of honour. Other plaques commemorate the Boer War, the Vietnam War, the Korean War and Australia's National Servicemen (the nashos).
The Wonthaggi War Memorial with Anzac Day flowers and one of two the canons at the site (Photos copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Cross Baillieu Street to the second part of the reserve and then cross McBride Street to your left and walk past the Bass Coast Shire Council Civic Centre to Watt Street.
The Post Office Precinct on the corner of Watt Street and McBride Avenue comprises three heritage listed buildings, the former post office built in 1910, the government office building which was previously a bank built around 1911-14 and the court house built in 1928. The post office and office building are made of local bricks.
The government offices c1911.1914 (left) and the old post office 1910 (centre). (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Cross Watt Street and proceed along McBride Avenue to Graham Street.
Ludbrook's Corner, at the corner of Graham Street and McBride Avenue was built in 1911 by E.C. Ludbrook for the drapery and outfitting business he established in Wonthaggi in 1910. This impressive building with its square turret attested to its owner's wealth at the time.
Public Artwork is a serious matter in Wonthaggi and across the road from Ludbrook's Corner atop Cargill's Sports Store are two fine examples. The large mural facing Graham Street depicts a scene from the town's history and the mural facing McBride Avenue depicts a steam train crossing the historic Bourne Creek Trestle Bridge at Kilcunda.
Ludbrook's Corner built in 1911 for a drapery business established in Wonthaggi in 1910. (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Turn left on Graham Street and walk for about a half a block.
The Plaza Arcade at 140 Graham Street was formerly the Plaza Theatre built in the Elizabethan style and established in 1920 by the Returned Soldiers, Sailors and Nurses Co-operative. The building façade is interesting but don't wander past, take a look inside.
Continue along Graham Street to Billson Street.
The Bass Coast Artists Society has a number of designated hanging spaces throughout the town and the National Australia Bank Building on the corner of Graham and Billson Streets is one. Take a look in the display windows on either side of the bank entrance to view the paintings currently on display.
The Plaza Arcade originally established as a theatre in 1920 (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Turn right into Billson Street and proceed to Murray Street then turn right again.
The Barber Shop Vintage Display in the Cuttin' In hairdresser's window at 31 Murray Street is both attractive and interesting. There is a vintage barber's chair and several vintage barber shop items.
Continue along Murray Street to the Library.
The Bass Coast Poetry Wall occupies a significant section of the library's large display windows. Here poetry written by locals, particularly children, is posted for all to read. The poetry styles and tone vary considerably and can be rather entertaining.
Proceed to the intersection of Murray Street and McBride Avenue.
The Whalebone (Taberner's) Hotel on the corner of McBride Avenue and Murray Street has at its verandah's edge the jaw bones of a 74 foot (22.5 metre) whale which washed up on a Wonthaggi beach in 1923. The bones are arranged in a wide arch from the ground to the top of the verandah. The hotel itself, having been established in 1914 is also of historic significance.
The jaw bones of a whale outside Taberner's Hotel. (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
The Poppet Head and Mine Siren take pride of place at the entrance to the park. The mine siren is mounted on top of the poppet head. The siren sounded between 10 and 17 times a day at the Wonthaggi State Coal Mine from 1912 until the mine closed in 1967. The siren continues to sound even now; its deep roar is heard for 8 seconds at noon every day. An information board at the site tells the story of the mine siren and what it meant to the townspeople.
The Old Wonthaggi Railway Station is at the back of Apex Park. Trains no longer run to Wonthaggi and today this historic building is home to the Wonthaggi Historical Society's museum. The museum is open between 10am and 2pm on Saturdays and from 8am to 1pm on Rotary Market Days.
The mine poppet head and siren (top right). The building in the back right is the railway museum. (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
The Magnificent McBride Avenue Vista is best revealed from your vantage point at Apex Park. The view takes in two street blocks lined with Norfolk pines to Wishart Reserve and the war memorial. It would not be at all surprising if this was the most photographed view in town.
Cross back over Murray Street to the corner opposite the Whalebone Hotel.
The Old Bank and Moyles Building on the corner of McBride Avenue and Murray Street, currently The Book Exchange, was built in 1915 for the Bank of Victoria. The building had offices in front and a residence behind. In 1944 the Moyle family purchased the building to run a cartage business. Despite having had many uses over the last century the high teller counters remain. They are indeed impressive, step inside and take a look.
ArtSpace Wonthaggi next door to the Old Bank and Moyles Building is an art gallery offering quality artworks by Gippsland artists and artisans. As well as paintings it stocks original textiles, ceramics, jewellery, glassware and woodwork.
Continue along McBride Avenue and turn left into Graham Street.
The Coal Mine Shaft Styled Entrance to the Wonthaggi workmen's Club (Photo from Wonthaggi workmen's Club Facebook Page)
The Wonthaggi Workmen's Club at 75 Graham Street is a not only a great place to take a break for a drink or a meal but it is a tribute to the town's history. The entrance hallway is a replica of a mine shaft with many artefacts of the time and in the foyer, 12 metre high timbers represent a mine poppet head. Take a look, there is much more inside.
This town walk is just a part of what Wonthaggi has to offer. A visit to the Wonthaggi State Coal Mine is great family entertainment or for an easy bush walk and some birdwatching, the Baxter Wetlands are a good choice.
Wonthaggi is around an hour and 45 minutes from the Melbourne CBD via the South Gippsland and Bass Highways. The town walk can be done at any time. Bass Coast Visitor Information can be contacted on 1300 854 334 or by via their website.