Delve deep into Victoria's mining history, explore a range of above-ground heritage sites and embark on scenic walks at Wonthaggi, a town built on the industry of 'black gold' – coal.
Although Wonthaggi's State Coal Mine has retired from duty, there's still plenty to see and do. The mine's above-ground heritage features are open to the public, with historic buildings, interpretive displays, walking trails, a picnic area and kiosk.
During the disastrous New South Wales coal strikes at the turn of the century, Wonthaggi and its black coal reserves were exploited by the Victorian Government in response to this national emergency. Visitors can learn the tough lessons of mining history with tours and interpretation points in a town once controlled by the 'mine whistle'.
Wonthaggi is conveniently located in the midst of some of Bass Coast's most impressive food destinations. Less than 15 minutes' drive to the west you'll find renowned Kilcunda foodies Udder and Hoe, the Kilcunda Hotel and Kilcunda General Store, and less than 15 minutes' drive to the east, discover lively cellar doors at both Harman Wines and The Dirty Three Wines.
Wonthaggi's walking trails
Hike, bike or wander along Wonthaggi's network of trails that branch out across the Bass Coast.
For boardwalkers, kick off through Wonthaggi Wetlands Reserve and watch for wildlife along the way. Birdwatchers – head over to Baxter Wetlands trail, where an Indigenous replanting project conceals its own bird hide or loop through Wonthaggi's Tank Hill Reserve for a quick spot of birding. Then for rail enthusiasts, it's well worth hitting the tracks along the Wonthaggi East Area Rail Trail and digging into some local history.
At nearby Kilcunda, home to the historic Kilcunda trestle bridge, take in spectacular views with a walk along the cliff tops on the George Bass Coastal Walk to San Remo. Link into the Bass Coast Rail Trail, the only coastal rail trail in Victoria, and revel in stunning panoramic views of Bass Strait and coastal bushland.
Continue your coastal explorations at Cape Paterson and Bunurong Marine and Coastal Park. Wander the trails in search of local birdlife or hit the waves for a spot of swimming snorkelling and surfing.