Yesterday I had a day off work and Melbourne was having an unusually smoggy day (for what is usually a very clean city). So I decided I needed to head somewhere a little more remote for some fresh air, views and exercise. A quick google search led me to the Cape Woolamai Trail on Phillip Island. I’ve been to the island a few times but hadn’t ventured out to the cape at the eastern end. Two hours later and I was looking out over a world-famous surf beach ready to begin my hike.
Long Story Short:
Location: Phillip Island Nature Park, Cape Woolamai, Victoria
Hiking Track: Pinnacles Walk, Cape Woolamai Trail
Time: 5-6 hours: 1¾ hour drive from Melbourne, 2 hour hike (return), 1¾ hour return drive to Melbourne
Getting there: You will need a car, there’s no public transport there
When to go: Anytime but for the best weather go between October and March.
The Cape Woolamai Trail begins at the car park at Woolamai Beach. From there you walk along the beach to the steps at the other side and follow the trail. It’s all the one trail but there are a few different options depending on if you want to turn back or walk the entire circuit around the cape:
- Pinnacles Walk 4.5 km return (2.7 miles)
- Beacon Walk 8 km return (5 miles) (circuit walk) – continue past the pinnacles
- Old Granite Quarry Walk 5.5km return (3.4 miles) (circuit walk) – take the left track at the first fork. Does not go past the pinnacles
Check out the map at the end of this post to see the different walks
I decided to do the Pinnacles Walk but once I got there I ended up continuing a little onto the Beacon Walk simply because I was mesmerised by the views. I turned back around about halfway between the pinnacles and the beacon. The hike took me just under 2 hours but I stopped to take photos… constantly. I honestly think it would be easy to do the hike in one hour or less if you’re not stopping for frequent photo ops.
You can see the pinnacles as soon as you step out onto the beach and the view just gets more impressive the closer you go.
Surfers are everywhere along the beach. Woolamai is a pretty important beach for surfing so no matter what time of year it is you won’t be alone there.
Sadly, there are tonnes of dead birds along the beach. I was surprised by how many there were but I haven’t been able to find out why. I did a little research which turned up a variety of answers from a shortage of fish for them to eat, to ingesting too much plastic and dying en masse. I don’t know what the answer is but its hard to ignore the issue when you’re there.
You don’t stay on the beach for too long as the trail takes you along the edge of the cliffs where you follow the coast until you’re standing above the Pinnacles looking down on the incredible structures.
I’d just started walking along the grassy trail when I passed a jogger. She told me to be careful because she’d nearly just stood on a copperhead snake a minute ago. So, watch out for snakes!
After a pleasant walk, the track has barely any inclines, I made it to the Pinnacles.The Pinnacles are formations of pink granite and according to the sign were formed 360 million years ago. I thought that was interesting but really they are extraordinary.
I recommend continuing past the Pinnacles around the Cape just a little further because the coastline is truly impressive further on.
I started walking at around midday and on my way there I only passed that one jogger. On my return journey however I past a dozen or so other hikers so I think it gets busier as the day goes on.
You can easily do the trail in an afternoon but if it’s your first visit to the island I recommend you stick around and explore a bit further. Phillip Island is a diverse place. There’s great beaches, good for both swimming and surfing and there’s a lot of wildlife. It’s not unusual to see koalas on the island but the it’s really famous for its Little Penguins. Thousands of them call the island home and watching them return to the beach at sunset is something you should do at least once.
Looking for more hikes close to Melbourne? Try this one at the Cathedral Ranges State Park