Located on Bunurong country on a popular stretch of the Bass Coast between Phillip Island and Wilsons Prom, Kilcunda has long been a popular destination for tourists travelling up or down the coast.
We acknowledge that this adventure is located on Bunurong Nation, the traditional Country of the Bunurong people who have occupied and cared for this land for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.
- Stunning coastal scenery
- Choose your own beach for swimming, surfing, or fishing
- Pick a stretch of river for relaxing
- Make the most of the wind – fly a kite or go hang-gliding
- Explore the region on bike or foot on some great trails
Look at a map of Victoria’s Kilcunda, and you won’t notice much. But driving down the Bass Highway from Melbourne you’ll suddenly leave the calm waters of Westernport Bay behind and slam straight into Bass Strait views that are enough to stop you in your tracks.
While it may seem like the perfect pit stop, you’ll need more than a brief visit if you really want to experience everything this ripper of a town has to offer.
Explore the Beaches
The beaches at Kilcunda are seriously stunning. With big dunes and windswept sea cliffs, most take a little effort to get to.
If accessibility is a concern, then park between Kilcunda Ocean View Holiday Park and Bourne Creek Trestle Bridge, which will put you on level with the Bass Coast Rail Trail. From there you can explore, and enjoy some spectacular views from a fine gravel path that’s mostly flat with a few undulations (the hills get steeper out of town).
If you’re heading to one of the beaches, then chances are you’ll be approaching from above. Take a moment to stop beside one of the old surfers as they assess the swell, and marvel at the collection of green and blue shades laid out before you.
Native vegetation tumbles down the cliffs towards deep, sandy beaches with the crashing waves beyond. When the tide’s out, you’ll find funky rock formations and rock pools that’d pique anyone’s interest.
The town may be small, but the beaches are not. Expansive stretches of sand meet the waves of Bass Strait, as gulls wheel through the endless sky above.
Check Out the Rivers
Kilcunda’s beaches form a naturally inviting playground. There are always more rocks to scramble over, a branching path leading back through the tea trees, another sand dune to crest. But don’t forget to explore the rivers as well!
Spending a bit of time scrambling about under the historic trestle bridge that spans Bourne Creek is a great way to cool off on a hot day (especially if you’re not confident enough to tackle the beach waves) but if you want to do a bit more river exploring, then head out of town to the Powlett River.
I can only assume that the fishing here is good, because there’s always someone with a line in the water around the bridge or further down towards the mouth of the Powlett.
To get there, follow Mouth of Powlett Road to the car park at the end, then take a winding walk through the tea trees. This’ll lead you out to wider waters at the river’s mouth, the sand dunes, and the surf beach beyond.
Get Your Wheels onto the Bass Coast Rail Trail
The 21km Bass Coast Rail Trail passes right through the heart of Kilcunda, following the old railway line between Wonthaggi and Woolamai.
The width and surface of the trail makes it perfect for prams, bikes, or wheelchairs. You can walk your dog on leash, and horse riding is also permitted. Everyone’s welcome!
Read more: 14 Dog Friendly Walks Near Melbourne
Highlights of the trail include crossing the heritage-listed trestle bridge, originally constructed in 1911. This is also one of the best places to take in the contrasting scenery of Kilcunda and its surrounds. On one side, deep blue water reaches out to the horizon, and on the other, farmland rolls up and over the hills, marking a clear line on the horizon, hiding the outside world from view.
Most of the area’s attractions are just off the trail, including BBQs and picnic areas, playgrounds, and the wide grassy areas and car parks that host kite flying, the annual lobster festival (when COVID-19 doesn’t get in the way) or classic car meets. You might even spot hang-gliders or paragliders soaring near Kilcunda Cemetery.
Some maps call this the Nyora-Wonthaggi Rail Trail, but you can tell those mapmakers they’re dreamin’. The extension from Woolamai to Nyora doesn’t exist yet.
Set Your Feet on the George Bass Coastal Walk
If you’d prefer to explore the area on your own two feet, then head to the George Bass Coastal Walk. It’s perfect for walking or running, but not so great for wheels.
This coastal track stretches between Kilcunda and San Remo and made the top five list of Victoria Walks’ Walks of the Year. It’s easy to see why. The clifftop path takes full advantage of the views.
If you’re hiking at a slower pace, then you’ll probably see plenty of birdlife, Eastern grey kangaroos, and remnant vegetation. If you’re out on a lung-testing trail run, then every time you stop for a breather you’ll have a spectacular vantage point. In winter you might even spot migrating whales.
The upper and lower trails allow you to walk along the beach for sections at low tide, while the clifftop trail means you always have a way back if you linger too long in San Remo and the tide catches you out.
Relax and Recharge at the Pub
After all that saltwater, sea air, and adventure, you’re probably ready for a good meal and a refreshing beverage.
The Kilcunda General Store offers breakfast, lunch, and ice cream, and the Kilcunda Ocean View Hotel (Killy Pub) will set you up with lunch or dinner. Both have verandahs looking out to the ocean where you can enjoy a bev while you drink in the views.
Behind the General Store, you’ll find Udder & Hoe selling local produce. On the other side of the hotel is Kilcunda Ocean View Motel. And that about wraps it up for the town. I told you it was small.
There are plenty of options for accommodation in Kilcunda. Powlett River Caravan Park is right on the river, Kilcunda Ocean View Motel is in the heart of town, and there’s also find plenty of local B&Bs.
But it’s hard to go past Kilcunda Oceanview Holiday Retreat, because the name simply doesn’t lie. The cabins are perched right on the cliff’s edge, and even the humblest unpowered camping site has a Bass Strait view. It’s right across the road from the Killy Pub and the shops, with direct access to both the George Bass Coastal Walk and the Rail Trail, and the beach right on your doorstep.
- Tent and camping gear
- Fishing rod
- Comfortable shoes for walking
- Binoculars (for the whales)
Read more: Remember to leave no trace!
How To Get There
Kilcunda is just over 1.5 hours (120km) from the heart of the Melbourne CBD. It’s a very pleasant drive down country highways once you leave the city behind. Your trip will take a little longer using public transport, but you can hop on a V/Line bus that’ll take you right into the heart of town.
The main township and most major attractions can be found in a small cluster on either side of the Bass Highway.