The George Bass Coastal Walk is one of the most underrated coastal trails in Victoria. Indeed, being so close to popular Phillip Island, it’s easy for visitors to overlook this spectacular trail. But, if you ask anyone who’s hiked the George Bass Coastal Walk, they’ll tell you this is an absolute must-do hike in South Gippsland. And, as two people who have walked this trail, Dan and I are no different. This coastal walk is truly wonderful.
So, in this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to complete the George Bass Coastal Walk.
Table of Contents
About the George Bass Coastal Walk
Like many, the George Bass Coastal Walk wasn’t on our radar as we travelled through Victoria. But, after hearing firsthand how great the walk was, we knew it needed to be added to our itinerary.
The walk is easily one of the best in the area. The stunning 7km one-way trail is situated between San Remo and Kilcunda in South Gippsland. The walk skirts the edges of beautiful clifftops, visits gorgeous beaches and enjoys outstanding vistas along the way.
The coastal walk follows the route that explorer George Bass would have taken during his voyage of discovery along the Anderson Peninsula some 200 years ago. Yet, you certainly don’t need to be a history lover to enjoy this walk.
Top Phillip Island Tour
- Koala conservation reserve
- The Nobbies to see fur seals
- Summerland Beach for the Pengiun Parade
Where Is the George Bass Coastal Walk?
The George Bass Coastal Walk is located in South Gippsland and close to Phillip Island in the state of Victoria, Australia. To help get your bearings, please click on the image below to access an interactive map of the area on Google Maps.
George Bass Coastal Walk Overview
The 14km return trail is a fairly exposed hike with sweeping clifftop views. The out-and-back trail stretches between the towns of San Remo and Kilcunda. There’s even the bonus of a pub pit stop upon arrival at Kilcunda, which we certainly welcomed.
The George Bass Coastal Walk can be started from either destination and takes around three to four hours to complete. In addition, the terrain can be a little muddy in parts if it’s been wet and there are a few styles to climb over. The beaches are well worth stopping at as you pass through. But, don’t swim at them, as the currents are strong and until you reach Kilcunda, are unpatrolled.
All in all, this is a delightful coastal walk that really does tick all the boxes. Let’s look at the route map and hiking stats.
George Bass Coastal Walk Map and Stats
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 15km
- Time: 3–4 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 280m
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead: Punchbowl Road, San Remo
- Map: AllTrails
George Bass Coastal Walk Description
Beginning the trail at San Remo, you’ll find a smallish unpaved car park at the end of Punchbowl Road. The area is popular with anglers and so fills up quite quickly. Immediately along the track from the car park is a lovely viewing platform. It’s a teeny out and back from the main George Bass Coastal Walk but we highly recommend taking a look. Certainly, the views across Punchbowl Rocks Beach are quite wonderful.
Rejoining the trail, you’ll follow a grassy pathway that gently undulates across the clifftop. Indeed, the views stretched out in front are beautiful. To your left are fenced farm fields, and to your right is the jagged, exposed cliff edge.
In fact, the rugged headlands and grass-covered bluffs stretched out ahead feel more reminiscent of UK coastal walks. Certainly, for me, it felt homely and familiar. Perhaps the gloomy weather aided in that sense too. And with that being said, the George Bass Coastal Walk certainly works well in all weather. But be warned, some sections can become quite muddy in poor weather due to the grassy terrain.
Half Moon Bay
As you follow the trail through the beautiful Punchbowl Coastal Reserve, you’ll start to catch sight of Half Moon Bay. There’s a short off-shoot from the George Bass Coastal Walk to visit the beach. And visit you must. This delightful golden sandy beach is utterly splendid.
Return up the sandy path to rejoin the George Bass Coastal Walk and continue towards Kilcunda. The trail once again dips down onto the golden sands, where you’ll trudge across the soft powder to rejoin a firmer trail on the opposite headland. The views are superb every step of the way, getting even better once you reach Punchbowl Caves.
Nearing Kilcunda you’ll pass the rocky headland of Punchbowl Caves. The pebbly cove below is a haven for wildlife and the caves and rock arches are quite impressive. Somehow the rough waters of the Bass Strait are still tinged with turquoise, despite the harsh swell and torrent of whitewash.
From here, it’s just a short distance to Kilcunda. You’ll first arrive at Shelley Beach Car Park, where you can take the short trail down to Shelley Beach to enjoy another patch of golden sand on this George Bass Coastal Walk. If you turn right once on the beach, you can explore some wonderful rock platforms and if it’s rained, find the secret waterfall flowing down the Kilcunda Cliffs.
Arriving at Kilcunda, it’s time to celebrate the halfway point of the George Bass Coastal Walk with a refreshing drink at the pub. Or, alternatively, call in at the Kilcunda General Store for a coffee and sweet treat. Quite the midpoint pick-me-up and exactly why Dan and I think hiking the George Bass Coastal Walk this way around works so well. Of course, you’ll have to wait until the end of the hike for your pub drink reward if you begin the walk from Kilcunda. But, perhaps that might suit you better, the choice is entirely yours.
Once you’ve enjoyed the views and rest from Kilcunda Beach, simply retrace your steps and complete the George Bass Coastal Walk in reverse to finish the hike.
Useful Things to Know Before You Go
So, now you know about the George Bass Coastal Walk, let’s look at a few useful things to know before visiting, including how to get to the trailhead and where to park.
How to Get to the George Bass Coastal Walk
The easiest way to get to the end of Punchbowl Road to begin the George Bass Coastal Walk is to drive there yourself. From Melbourne, you’re looking at around a 90 minute drive. You’ll follow directions towards San Remo, the gateway to Phillip Island.
It’s possible to take public transport from Melbourne to do the George Bass Coastal Walk. But, you’ll have to start the hike from Kilcunda instead. That’s because there aren’t any public transport options to the end of Punchbowl Road. Public transport from Melbourne to Kilcunda takes around two hours and you can check timetables and bus fares here.
Although public transport is only a little longer than driving, it does make for a less convenient journey, especially if you want to begin the walk from Punchbowl Road. To that end, we highly recommend driving yourself to the George Bass Coastal Walk. If you don’t have access to your own vehicle, we recommend hiring one.
If you don’t have your own car, you should hire one using Discover Cars. Personally, we use Discover Cars and highly recommend them for finding your ideal car hire at an affordable price. Booking online is super easy and the free cancellation policy is great.
Getting to Melbourne
If you’re travelling to Melbourne from overseas, we recommend using Skyscanner to search for the cheapest flights.
Skyscanner is our go-to website for booking flights. If you’re looking to find the cheapest flights, we recommend getting the ball rolling with a Skyscanner search. It allows you to scan all airlines and platforms to find the cheapest airfares.
To find out more about booking the cheapest flights, read our Skyscanner review.
George Bass Coastal Walk Parking and Facilities
At the end of Punchbowl Road is a small car park with room for around 20 vehicles. There isn’t much in the way of facilities at this car park. You’ll find its location here.
George Bass Coastal Walk Difficulty
The George Bass Coastal Walk isn’t technically demanding. But, it is an undulating trail covering a distance of 15km in total. For that reason alone, we’ve graded the walk as moderately challenging. The coastal walk is very family-friendly though and you’ll likely see people of all ages out enjoying this excellent hike in south Gippsland.
Is the George Bass Coastal Walk Dog Friendly?
It’s permitted to bring your pooch on the George Bass Coastal Walk (hooray!) But, you must keep your dog on its leash at all times. In addition, the beaches have strong currents so it’s not wise to let your dog swim in the ocean. Or yourself for that matter.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Well, the George Bass Coastal Walk is on the doorstep of wonderful Phillip Island, and there’s plenty to see and do there. Some of our favourite natural attractions are as follows (guides coming soon).
- Cape Woolamai Walk: enjoy this fantastic coastal walk around the southern point of Phillip Island to the Pinnacles Lookout and beyond.
- Forrest Caves: explore these wonderful red rock beach caves at low tide.
- Penguin Parade: watching these little penguins is an absolute must when visiting Phillip Island.
- The Nobbies: look for penguins and fur seals at the southwestern tip of Phillip Island.
- Pyramid Rock Lookout: a quick walk from the car park brings you out to views of this excellent sea stack.
- Churchill Island: there’s an even smaller island at Phillip Island, with an easy circular walk to discover more about its heritage and offer a glimpse into the life of early European settlers to Victoria.
Read more: Best Things To Do On Phillip Island (guide coming soon)
Where to Stay Nearby
Being close to Phillip Island and within easy reach of Melbourne for a quick weekend getaway, you’ll find there are plenty of great accommodation options close to the George Bass Coastal Walk and other attractions in the area. Below are some of our favourites and most highly rated around San Remo.
Top San Remo Accommodation Options
Below are our top gear essentials for the George Bass Coastal Walk. You should also pack a hat, snacks and sunscreen.
Osprey Skarab 30
The Osprey Skarab 30 is our go-to hiking backpack for day hikes. This well-designed unisex backpack is comfortable and spacious, so you’ll have plenty of space to pack everything without feeling the strain on your upper back.
Osprey Ultralight Raincover
A waterproof backpack cover is an absolute must when you’re adventuring outdoors. The Osprey Ultralight Raincover Medium is a high-quality waterproof cover that’ll keep your backpack bone dry.
GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle
The GRAYL GeoPress is the best water filter bottle that allows you to purify 710mL (12 ounces) of water. This bottle will make water safe to drink wherever you’re hiking.
BUFF Original Ecostretch
The BUFF Original Ecostretch is a great option when it comes to multifunctional headwear. We use the Ecostretch as a neck gaiter to keep the sun off our necks and it helps us keep warm in cooler climates.
To find out more about all of the gear that we use and recommend, read our guides about our favourite hiking gear, travel gear and camera gear. Otherwise, read our comprehensive travel packing checklist.
Have you completed the George Bass Coastal Walk? Let us know in the comments below.
We acknowledge and respect the First Nations people as the Traditional Custodians of the land/water that we visited and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.