On a slightly cloudy Saturday, the road from Kilcunda to Inverloch isn’t crowded. And apart from the odd cyclist pair, there’s virtually no-one on the coast-hugging Cape Paterson-Inverloch Road that affords wide views of the long sweep of Venus Bay down to Cape Liptrap.
On the Bass Coast beaches there is a fisher meditating on the horizon, pods of paddleboards, and beach walkers claiming a whole coast to themselves.
“That’s really the whole theme of this coastline,” Mike Cleland from the Bunurong Environment Centre says. “It’s all a theme of discovery. It’s good for rock-pooling. In winter it’s a great place for whale watching, and I’d argue that it’s got some of the best beaches in the world.” But it’s the incredible sense of remoteness that most appeals to him.
Walking with dinosaurs
As Bunurong Centre’s environment officer and, as one of the top spotters of dinosaur bones along Australia’s richest Cretaceous fossil site, Mike is well placed to talk about the past – back 115-130 million years ago when Australia was within the Antarctic Circle and dinosaurs inhabited a wide river valley that is now an intertidal rock shelf stretching from Inverloch to San Remo.
At The Caves, 6km south of Inverloch, Mike points out the fossilised stumps of trees; some with recognisable growth rings, that become visible at low tide.
“It would have been a decent forest around here,” he says. “It would also have been very dark with a whole lot of little dinosaurs running around in the gloom.”
The first dinosaur fossil discovered in Australia in 1905 was “the Cape Paterson claw”, found further down this coast.
Mike was in the line search in 1991 which rediscovered the potentials of a site that soon rose to world significance because it proved that mammals had indeed been living alongside dinosaurs.
Each year since, hundreds of bones have been liberated from the fossil layer in an annual summer dig called Dinosaur Dreaming that is largely staffed by amateur palaeontologists.
Archies Creek Pub
In a one-road town with a population under 50 and set in the hinterland hillocks near Wonthaggi, The Royal Mail Hotel is where in early 19th century the post was dropped off. With an old red VW convertible permanently parked out front for the kids to play in, and a premises that is mainly dining room with two small bar annexes, these days it offers an absolutely country pub experience.
Until the late 1970s there was a series of well-established, scrap-built squatter shacks along the coast between Inverloch and Cape Paterson that had been there for generations.
Sam Gatto, immediate past president of the Wonthaggi Historical Society, says “there was a long, wonderful history to the little communities that were set up at Harmer’s Haven, Shack Bay and Eagle’s Nest. At Flat Rocks there were 18 huts”.
Because it starts at 10.30am every Sunday, Jane Seaholme, manager of the Kongwak market, admits that it’s otherwise known as “the lazy person’s market.” Held for the past 11 years in a couple of big tin sheds that were shops, produce and stock feed stores, the market has developed a reputation for specialising in vintage, retro and collectables.
How to save in Inverloch
From caravan sites to premium ocean view rooms or stylish eco villas, RACV Inverloch Resort has a mix of accommodation options for couples, families and groups. Set in a 32ha site with views of Bass Strait and Anderson Inlet, the resort has been designed to integrate into its environmentally sensitive landscape. More than 50,000 individual plants have been planted on the property and wetlands provide habitat for birds and aquatic life.
Guests can enjoy a fully-equipped recreation centre, including a heated swimming pool. For children there are outdoor playgrounds including a giant jumping pillow, bikes to use and a flying fox.
Dine at the Radius Restaurant, open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and enjoy panoramic views from the huge windows. Drinks and nibbles are available in the Zenith Lounge, while the Kiosk has house-made gourmet burgers and shakes during the summer months.
Away from the resort, you can use your RACV membership card to save at a number of businesses and attractions.
Stay & Save at RACV Inverloch
RACV members who book directly with RACV Inverloch Resort save up to 25% on accommodation.
Go to racv.com.au/inverloch or phone 5674 0000. Remember to use your RACV membership card to save at attractions in the area. See racv.com.au/sycas for more information. Or download the Show Your Card & Save app from the iTunes store or Google Play.
Save 10% at National Vietnam Veterans Museum
Founded and built by Vietnam veterans to support those returning from the Vietnam War (1962-1975), the museum has themed exhibitions, galleries showing the experience of veterans and a moving Light & Sound Show. Visit the museum at 25 Veterans Drive, Newhaven, and save 10% off entry fees when you show your RACV membership card.
Save 5% at Koonwarra
Spend more than $50 and save 5% at Koonwarra Food & Wine Store, South Gippsland Hwy.
Save 10% at trout farm
Visit Rhyll Trout and Bush Tucker Farm for an eco-friendly day out and save 10% on admission and rod hire.
Save 10% at Lucinda Estate
At 108 Parr St, Leongatha, you save 10% on wine purchases and 15% on 12 or more bottles at the cellar door.
Save up to 15% at Purple Henn, Rhyll
Purple Hen produces premium cool climate wines including sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot noir, cabernet merlot and cabernet sauvignon. You save 5% when you buy six or more bottles and 10% when you buy 12 or more bottles.
Save 10% at Serious Surf
Serious Surf Stuff, Inverloch, caters for your surf and beach needs. Save 10% on all full-priced products.