I love taking our dogs bushwalking and hiking, but I always find it challenging (in Australia) to find places to take them! As I discover dog-friendly hikes, forests and trails, I’ll blog about them to help others find interesting, beautiful and exciting places to explore with their dogs too!
Where: George Bass Coastal Trail, either San Remo, or Kilcunda, 1.5 hours South-east of Melbourne.
Difficulty/fitness required: Fairly easy going for the most part.
Hilliness: A couple, but nothing extreme.
Accessibility: Small parking area at the end of Punch Bowl Road, San Remo, down a dirt road (fine for 2WDs). Possibly more parking at the Kilcunda end but can’t remember off the top of my head.
Leech-factor: Nope! None!
Wildlife: Kangaroos/wallabies, probably snakes, SEALS.
Map: Here you go!
On/Off Lead? On. Booo. (though we let them off at the beach)
The Walk Itself
There’s a couple of options for this walk. You can do the whole thing, up and back – 14km long and about 4 hours return. You could do a car shuffle and park one car at one park and the other at the other park and just walk one way. Or you can do the lazy-man’s route which I usually do, which is to walk as far as you want, turn around and go back. We usually get to the first “beach access” point at Half Moon Bay, go down to the beach, have a snack and let the dogs run, then head back.
Much of the walk is along a grassy trail – the grass is pretty short, and just mown through some longer grass. I think the track could be pretty slippery if it had just rained. Some of the track is packed dirt (also potentially slippery), not gravel. I can’t remember the track at the Kilcunda end of the walk. It has some little hills but nothing extreme. The temperature here tends to be cooler than further inland so be prepared for winds off the southern sea and dress appropriately.
The track features cool sea cliffs to one side, and sea cliffs are pretty cool if you ask me. Sometimes you’ll go a bit more inland and away from the cliffs, leading you instead through rolling hills dotted with cows. A few places will take you through stands of scraggly teatrees or Sheoak. Obviously dogs are allowed here, but they do need to be on lead. That being said, there’s hardly ever any people here, especially on cool overcast days or weekdays. Still, I wouldn’t be letting my dogs off lead even just to stop them careening off a cliff chasing rabbits.
Did You Say Something About Seals?
At about the 2km mark (if you’re coming from the San Remo end), you’ll come to a fork in the track, with one sign saying “Beach access only”. If you’re into beaches, you should take this track. It’s one of my favourite beaches ever, actually.
Unprotected by the bay, it features big rolling waves (don’t swim in there, please, and I wouldn’t be letting my dogs swim in there either) and a cool cliff formation at the other end. It’s perfect for dogs to have a bit of a run as long as there’s no people around. We were there early winter and found that the cliffs behind us actually shielded the sun from the beach until early afternoon so if you want to soak up any winter sun, go later rather than earlier. There are wallabies or kangaroos and rabbits that live in the grassy areas leading down to the beach so if you have a dog that likes to hunt or explore, you will need to keep an eye on them, or keep them on lead.
That being said… my dogs were all having a great time off lead…
Then I started writing a birthday message for Isi in the sand. So they wouldn’t trample my hard work, I’d put them on lead… Just as I was finishing my message and preparing to let them off the lead again for a birthday message photo, we noticed something grey wandering out of the grassy dunes… We thought it was a weird (super weird) dog… the dogs thought it was a weird dog… Until it started to move like a seal along the beach.
Possibly because it was a seal.
Lumen went insane. Never has she wanted something so badly as she wanted that seal. She reminded me of Veruca Salt not getting what she wants in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. She had the dog equivalent of a toddler tantrum.
So, be warned that there’s definitely seals around and that they may come hang out on the beach and that your dog may want to dive into the water after them. Definitely a bad idea.
All in all a good walk that you can do a little of, or more of. I think if you keep going, there’s more beaches. Rock-hopping around is fun but you have to be super careful of the waves that can wash up suddenly so maybe don’t do too much of that. There’s some cafés in Wonthaggi and Cowes for lunch, and of course you could go to the penguin parade on Phillip Island on the evening – but you’d have to leave the dogs in the car for that.
3.5 weird bush-seals out of 5. (points lost for on-leadness)
Isi is upset about it being 3.5 seals so consider the .5 of a seal to be a baby seal, rather than 1/2 a seal.