George Bass and Matthew Flinders circumnavigated Van Diemen's Land in 1798 and proved that what is now Tasmania was separated from Australia's mainland by an extremely dangerous and spectacular stretch of water. Bass Strait has claimed hundreds of lives and ships and is not to be taken for granted. The strait claimed the lives of six sailors in the 1998 Sydney to Hobart race.
Natalie Gruzlewski and Parks Victoria ranger Bill Slade followed the George Bass Coastal Walk which starts in San Remo, 90 minutes from Melbourne, and ends in Kilcunda. It takes around two hours one-way and even from land it's hard to imagine the sight that greeted the explorer from the sea.
The 7km walk follows Bass' epic voyage of discovery along the southern edge of the Anderson Peninsula. It's truly a hidden gem, and those who know it enjoy it on calm, sunny days but really love it when the weather is not so good as they see the mood of the ocean and its furious beauty.
Native vegetation clings to the cliffs along the walk making it excellent for observing bird life. Pacific gulls patrol the coast and black-shouldered kites and nankeen kestrels can be seen hunting in the neighbouring farmlands. In winter southern right whales are spotted on their annual migration to warmer waters.
For thousands of years the Boonwurrung people looked out over the treacherous stretch of water. Evidence of their existence is marked by middens, hidden in the dunes behind sandy beaches. Sandy Waterhole, about half-way along the track, is a fresh water supply they would have used. The Punchbowl, a sea cave which collapsed many years ago, is another feature you will see.
As you near the end of the walk there are spectacular views of the six-turbine Wonthaggi Wind Farm near the old coal mining area of Wonthaggi in Gippsland.
Natalie found the walk quite easy and Bill said it really is suitable for all ages. Just remember to wear a hat and sunscreen and take water with you.
Known as the Killy Pub to locals, this old pub is a surprise package and the perfect to quench the thirst you may have at the end of the walk.
It's a great place to stoop for a cold drink or a truly fantastic meal. In summer they have barbecues in the beer garden and in winter you can snuggle up in front of a fire. They have live music on weekends. Fish is straight from the boat, beef is local and wines are from the Silverwater Winery just over the hill. Prices are pleasingly reasonable.
Related video: Sydney's Great Coastal Walk
From San Remo, 90 minutes from Melbourne, to Kilcunda.
Kilcunda Pub is open every day and lunch is served between noon to 2.30pm and dinner from 6pm to 8.30pm.
For further information
George Bass Coastal Walk
Parks Victoria Information Line
Ph: 131 963
Phillip Island Information Centre
Phillip Island Road
Ph: 1300 366422
Bunurong Environment Centre
Ph: (03) 5674 3738
Ph: (03) 5678 7011