This Cape Woolamai Circuit hike offers spectacular views of Phillip Island and the surrounding coastline. Cape Woolamai is the highest point on Phillip Island and is also the largest shearwater rookery. Between October and April this area is home to thousands of shearwaters.
Commencing at the information shelter take the wooden ramp down to the beach and walking southeast along a wide strip of sand toward a rocky point that juts out from Cape Woolamai. After 700 meters, and before reaching the end of the beach, you will spot a wooden staircase on the left. Take it up onto the sandy grass-covered bluffs that connect the rocky end of Cape Woolamai with the rest of Phillip Island.
At the top of the steps, there is a sign for the Cape Woolamai Walking Trails directing you to turn right (the service road to the left heads back to the parking area). The trail sign highlights three of the hiking possibilities on Cape Woolamai, each with an identifying color that is used on markers along the trail. The hike described here actually borrows a bit from all three.
- Pinnacles Walk – The green route is 4.4 kilometers long, an out and back walk that ventures 1.4 kilometers farther down the bluff to an overlook above the Pinnacles and turns around there.
- Cape Woolamai Beacon Walk – The black route is 7.4 kilometers long and continues past the Pinnacles to the light beacon at the high point of Cape Woolamai before circling back around the end of the cape.
- Old Granite Quarry Walk – The blue route is 5.6 kilometers long and crosses over to the east side of the cape to the site of an old rock quarry. Return via the same route or make it a 5-kilometer loop and walk back along the beach.
Head south down the wide dirt trail. There will be views over Woolamai Beach to your right as you get closer to the long rock wall that runs into the ocean at the end of the beach. To your left, you will see burrows in the ground, evidence of the muttonbird rookeries on Cape Woolamai.
At just 350 meters from the top of the steps, you will come to a junction. Stay to the right, following black and green arrows toward the Pinnacles.
As you hike down the lovely west coast of the cape, be sure to look over your right shoulder for views of Woolamai Surf Beach and the south coast of Phillip Island. In another 550 meters, there will be a short spur path on the right that presents nice views over the end of Woolamai Beach.
Below the bluff, the coast is made up of impressive rock formations. The Pinnacles, sea stacks resembling connected granite columns, rise out of the surf near the end of the point directly offshore.
hike a bit farther to seem ore excellent rock formations on the cliffs below, where bare orange granite plunges from the bluff to the sea. Follow black arrows from the bench at the Pinnacles for another 2.05 kilometers on a gentle ascent to the summit at the tip of Cape Woolamai.
Continue hiking out to the southeast end of the cape, gradually coming up a crest in the terrain where you’ll find the Cape Woolamai Beacon. At an elevation of 112 meters, the Cape Woolamai Beacon sits at the highest point on Cape Woolamai and all of Phillip Island.
From this point, take the wide trail through low grasses toward a small cluster of trees. Before you leave the forest, you will come to a junction with a trail to the Old Granite Quarry. The main trail continues to the left toward the junction in the muttonbird rookeries. Head this way to stick with the black route for a 7.4-kilometer hike, or turn right to venture 700 meters out to the old quarry. From the quarry, you can walk back along the beach on the east side of the cape.
After 4.25 kilometers of hiking, it is time to start heading back up Cape Woolamai. Proceed down the other end of the loop trail, heading inland along the cape’s east coast. Hiking down a gradual slope, you will come to a short spur trail on the right out to a wooden overlook with east-facing views. The platform is perched at the edge of a steep bluff to present panoramic ocean views.
Eventually you will reach a sign in the trees just above the coast that marks the old quarry area. Go down a flight of wooden stairs to the beach, where there’s a tall trail sign resembling a street sign. To the left is Cleeland Bight and a beach walk back to the car park, a route that is not suitable at high tide. Before walking this way, take a few steps to the right and explore a jumble of granite slabs that were left on the beach when the quarry closed.
Once you have visited the Old Granite Quarry, you can take a 1.7-kilometer stroll north up the beach. Keep walking up the beach until you come to an area where the beach is backed by a steep slope of sand. Just past this sledding hill, there will be another tall trail post. Turn left here and head inland on a wide sandy track, following the sign for Cape Woolamai Car Park.
About the region
Cape Woolamai is a 308-hectar (760-acre) reserve established in 1968. The preserve protects the southeast end of Phillip Island and also the highest point on the island, a 112-meters-above-sea-level crest on the bluffs at the top of Cape Woolamai. The summit isn’t much of a climb, so sandy beaches and stunning granite cliffs are the real draw for hikers. Thanks to a small network of trails, there are a number of hiking options on Cape Woolamai, ranging from 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) to 8.5 kilometers (5.3 miles).
From Melbourne, take M1 east for approximately 30 kilometers to the exit for South Gippsland Freeway (M420) and drive south for 97 kilometers on M420 following signs for Phillip Island. Bear right onto Phillip Island Road (B420) to cross the bridge onto Phillip Island. Now continue another 3 kilometers to a intersection with Woolamai Beach Road and turn left. Drive 3 kilometers south to the car park at the end of the road.
Max elevation: 104 m
Min elevation: 1 m
Total climbing: 237 m
Total descent: -238 m