The Bass Coast Shire, which includes Phillip Island and a stretch of the Victorian coastline overlooking Bass Strait, is becoming one of the state’s more popular tourist regions and Wonthaggi is prominent on the visitors’ trail.
The township was first settled in 1908 when miners and their families were attracted by the long term prospects offered by working the rich local coal seams to supply Victorian Railways and emerging industries. The State Coal Mine was finally worked out in 1981 and the landscaped site is now run by Parks Victoria which operates underground tours.
The town’s biggest drawcard, however, are the jawbones of a 22.5m whale which guard the entrance to the Trust-listed Taberner’s Hotel. The whale was washed ashore in 1923 and an out-of-work local butcher boiled down the carcass for $900 and sold the jawbones to the innkeeper for $50.
Twelve kilometres to the east on Anderson’s Inlet lies the picturesque seaside fishing and surfing village of Inverloch.