PAGE 12 | LAKES COAST VISITOR GUIDE WONTHAGGI A gateway to pristine coastal wilderness A town with a deep mining history, Wonthaggi is a large regional centre with lots of facilities, and it's also the gateway to the wonderful coastal wilderness regions of Cape Paterson (just an 11-minute drive south) and Wilsons Promontory (just under an hour's drive south-east). Known originally for its coal mining, it is now the largest town in South Gippsland, a regional area with extensive tourism, beef and dairy industries. The name 'Wonthaggi' is derived from a Boonwurrung (south-central Kulin) word meaning 'home'. Bass Coast Rail Trail The old railway line here has been transformed into the very popular Bass Coast Rail Trail, which starts opposite the modern Centennial Visitor Information Centre in Bent Street. The relatively flat, 23-kilometre-long rail trail winds all the way to Woolamai (a small township in south-east-Gippsland, best known for its picnic racecourse, and not to be confused with a surf beach on Phillip Island with the same name). The trail rewards riders with wonderful farm and ocean views, as it crosses historic timber trestle bridges, passing the site of a former coal mine, and travels through Kilcunda – a coastal village with a café/general store, hotel and a large foreshore reserve. Local knowledge The friendly staff at the Wonthaggi Visitor Information Centre can guide you to wonderful walks in the Wonthaggi Bushland Reserve and the Wetlands Conservation Park, both of which are abundant in native flora and birdlife. It's also worth taking an invigorating walk on the pristine sands of the nearby Bass Coast surf beaches, including The Oaks, just east of Cape Paterson's main beach. State Coal Mine The historic State Coal Mine site in Garden Street is free to visit, and provides a fascinating, self-guided heritage walk among gardens and historic buildings. There's also a museum, an old steam locomotive for the kids to climb on and a picnic area. It's also worth stopping by the historic Wonthaggi Hotel, which was opened in 1915, and at its entrance features the giant jawbones from a 74' Sperm Whale that washed up on Wreck Beach in 1923. This pristine surf beach, known as the The Oaks, is only a short drive from the town of Wonthaggi. Photo: Visit Victoria GRAHAM STREET BILLSON STREET MCKENZIE STREET KORUMBURRA ROAD BASS HIGHWAY Police WONTHAGGI RAILWAY HISTORIC AREA STATE COAL MINE HISTORIC AREA HISTORIC RAILWAY LINE BUSHLAND AREA WONTHAGGI BUSHLAND RESERVE TOLEONGATHA & INVERLOCH TO SAN REMO & PHILLIP ISLAND WONTHAGGI RECREATION RESERVE wonthaggi Welcome to 3995 Scan here for full detailed map Distance from Melbourne: 135km Population: 4400 approx. Amenities: Great walks and trails including the Bass Coast Rail Trail. Accommodation options include caravan and camping, hotels, motels and holiday rentals. Close to the beach for coastal fun.