Anthony Kilner headed to Venus Bay in South Gippsland with his fellow band members and explored this magnificent coastal area between sets
Written by Anthony Kilner
Article from RV Daily Magazine
Twice a year my band, Divine Light Orchestra (DLO), heads off for a few days of writing and planning so when the opportunity to hire a house in picturesque Venus Bay came up we jumped at it.
Venus Bay is in South Gippsland, an easy two to 2.5 hours’ drive from Melbourne. The town was said to be named by George Bass after the planet Venus that was used for navigation by sailors throughout history. It was also said to be named Baie de La Vénus by Nicolas Baudin when he sailed past on the Géographe on March 29, 1802, according to the Baudin Journal, even though Bass passed the area a few years earlier. A little healthy competition between explorers was rife back then too apparently!
Bass, a surgeon and dedicated explorer, set off in a whaleboat with seven crew in December 1797 making his way from Sydney to Western Port Bay, discovered there was a strait of water between Western Port and Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) then headed back. He later went on to circumnavigate Tassie in something larger than a whaleboat and Bass Strait was named after him by Matthew Flinders.
The area around Venus Bay was donated to the Alfred Hospital by the Van Cleef Foundation in the early 1960s and developed into three main estates before residential buildings started to appear.
The town grew and become a very popular holiday destination where the sea meets the bush and river, and housing was designed to work with the nature that surrounds the area. It’s a great mix of conservation working with council and development.
Access to Venus Bay is via the township of Tarwin Lower on the Tarwin River which flows from the Strzelecki Ranges through to Anderson Inlet and Bass Strait. This means Venus Bay has the river on one side and the coast on the other. The coastline runs from Cape Liptrap to Point Smythe and is an amazing walk, or series of walks, to each location.
There are five main beaches that can be readily accessed. The smaller beaches are more private and like any Aussie coastal beach, the rips and currents can be tricky to deal with. The beach fishing is pretty awesome though, and the beaches are picture perfect for walkers and picnickers.
The main beach features a large car park, public toilets and showers, kiosk, Surf Life Saving Club and the beach is patrolled by lifesavers. This is the easiest beach to reach, via Surf Drive off the main street.
In around 2008 we met some friends and stayed in the caravan park in Venus Bay, which was a gorgeous spot. It was stinking hot at the time and we went for a swim. There were loads of people on the beach and, being late in the day, the lifesavers were packing up. As the rip started to get stronger with the change of tides I found myself separated from Jane and I watched in horror as Jane started disappearing out to sea.
Raising my arm and signalling to the lifeguards they sprang into action, unloading their boat and tearing off into the waves and plucking her from the seas’ clutches as it tried to pull her under. She was suitably rescued and while she hadn’t been panicking at all, the team did their job wonderfully – I couldn’t thank them enough. Always remember, on a patrolled beach swim between the flags and if you do get swept out to sea, don’t panic, if you can swim to the side of the rip and signal those on the beach.
Coastline around Venus Bay is renowned for its ruggedness and many ships have come to grief there. One wreck that is slowly being reduced to sand, the Magnat, came aground on May 8, 1900. What’s left of this ship is approximately 3.1km from Number 1 Beach, heading south east towards Cape Liptrap, and is visible at low tide. There is some history recorded about this ship which is worth checking out if you have a fascination for shipping yarns.
DESTINATIONS AROUND VENUS BAY
There are plenty of day trips that can be done from Venus Bay if folks get tired of playing on the beach, fishing the Tarwin and the ocean or just sipping coffee at the local café. The Bald Hills Wetland Reserve offers a lovely walk for birdos and nature lovers. Walkerville has historic Lime Kilns, there’s the ever-popular Wilsons Prom along with Waratah Bay, Sandy Point, and the towns of Inverloch, Fish Creek and Foster to name just a few in this great South Gippsland region.
A trip to this area can be relaxing or in our case loud and musical. It can be filled with walks, fishing, bird watching and exploring nature or the various cafés. Either way Venus Bay is a great destination all year round – just remember that when the storms come in – they certainly come in.