Wonthaggi is a town of about 6000 population in the South Gippsland region of Victoria, Australia, 128 km from Melbourne. It is on the Bass Highway, a few km from the Bass Strait coast and east of Phillip Island. The town developed because of the coal mines around and below the town and in the 1920s it was one of the biggest towns in Victoria.
- Wonthaggi Visitor Information Centre, Watt St, 5671 2444 ([email protected], fax 5672 2484). Every day except Good Friday and Christmas Day, 9am-5pm.
From Melbourne it can be reached in less than 2 hours via the Bass Highway which turns off the South Gippsland Highway. It is 20 km past the Phillip Island turnoff. From the east it can be approached on the Bass Highway via Inverloch. It can also be reached on route C437 from Korumburra, another coal mining center.
Catch the V/Line daily Melbourne-Inverloch services.
- State Coal Mine, Garden St (off Billson St, the street that leads to Cape Patterson), 03 5672 3053 ([email protected]). 10am-4:30pm. Despite its prosaic, Soviet-sounding name, this is actually an interesting historical attraction because of the guided tour 60 meters underground in the coal mine in addition to the above-ground exhibits. The site is part of an historic reserve managed by Parks Victoria. Mining ceased here many years ago and the site reopened as a tourist attraction in the 1980s. Restoration of mining infrastructure is on-going. On entry to the site you are free to wander around the above-ground exhibits which include the main museum room, a powder magazine, lamp room and a locomotive. One-hour underground tours commence at 10:30am, 11:30am, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm. Extra tours are offered during holidays. An introductory film screens in the entrance building 30 minutes prior to tours. For the tours, wear footwear suitable for uneven, damp ground and on warm days take extra clothing as the underground temperature is 16 degrees C. A hard hat is provided. The attraction is enlivened by the presence of a pit pony. Snacks are available from the gift shop and barbecue facilities are available. Adult $7.40, child $3.70, family $18.30. http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au/1park_display.cfm?park=189
- Wonthaggi State Coal Mine Historic Reserve. In addition to the mine on Garden St, there are 6 other sites in the reserve. Pick up a copy of the Parks Victoria visitor guide to the reserve. It shows walking trails around the remnants of mining activities just to the west of the town. The trails also go into Baxter’s Wetland Reserve.