The Bunurong Aboriginal people knew a good thing when they saw it. Groups sitting in one of the several sandy coves along the coast, cradled on three sides by rugged sandstone cliffs, eating shellfish while the sun sinks slowly into the sea on a warm summer's evening. I am not sure if the Bunurong people lived this way often (or at all), but I sure would if I could!
This is now the region of the Bunurong group of parks: Bunurong Marine National Park, Bunurong Marine Park, and Bunurong Coastal Reserve. The parks stretch seventeen kilometres from Coal Point at Harmers Haven, south of Wonthaggi, across to the western outskirts of Inverloch.
Cape Paterson is a small coastal town, with not much more than a milk bar, pub and real estate agents. In recent years it has started to grow with great vigour, and risks losing the quiet village atmosphere. which is one of the towns charms. Walking a wild lonely beach early on a winters' morning was escapism at its best. But this is becoming harder to achieve as an increasing number of people and their dogs take in the early sun.
Cape Paterson's big sister, Inverloch, has been a popular summer holiday destination for many years, and probably more suited for a family stay. Accommodation, cafes and restaurants, a gallery or two and other activities exist in greater plenty.
If you choose to stay at Cape Paterson caravan park I would highly recommend a morning cycle along the cliff tops to Inverloch for a coffee and leisurely read of the newspaper. The road has little or no verge for much of the way, but in the off-season it is relatively quiet.
Allow time to take in spectacular views at several of the lookouts along the way, including The Oaks, Shack Bay, Eagles Nest, and The Caves. Keep an eye open for honeyeaters, wattlebirds and wrens feeding in the coastal scrub, and a number of shore birds on the beaches below. There are a number of access points to the beaches. Just the place to sit in the sand, wipe the mind of all thoughts and simply watch the surf.
Bunurong is also for those who may have felt the urge to walk among the dinosaurs. Eagles Nest was the location where Australia's first dinosaur bone, the Cape Paterson Claw, was found over 100 years ago. The Flat Rocks fossil site (pdf, 70 kb) provides an average of 700 bones and teeth a year, with many of these found by volunteers as part of the Dinosaur Dreaming dig.