Cape Woolamai, Victoria

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Cape Woolamai
The rocks and rockpools at Cape Woolamai Surf Beach
Cape Woolamai is located in Bass Coast Shire
Cape Woolamai
Cape Woolamai
Coordinates38°31′34″S 145°20′13″E / 38.52611°S 145.33694°E / -38.52611; 145.33694Coordinates: 38°31′34″S 145°20′13″E / 38.52611°S 145.33694°E / -38.52611; 145.33694
Population1,232 (2006 census)[1]
Location140 km (87 mi) from Melbourne
LGA(s)Bass Coast Shire
State electorate(s)Bass
Federal Division(s)Monash
Suburbs around Cape Woolamai:
Surf Beach Newhaven Newhaven
Bass Strait Cape Woolamai Western Port
Bass Strait Bass Strait Western Port

Cape Woolamai is a small town and headland at the south eastern tip of Phillip Island in Victoria, Australia. It is home to Cape Woolamai State Faunal Reserve, and the Phillip Island Airport. Cape Woolamai contains a subdivision also called Cape Woolamai (formerly known as Woolamai Waters and Woolamai Waters West).


The cape was named by George Bass (but spelt "Wollamai") when he passed it on his whaleboat voyage in early 1798.[2] Wollamai is the snapper fish (Pagrus auratus) in the language of the Eora aboriginal people of Port Jackson, where the fish is found.[3] Bass, who had learnt some of the Sydney language from the Eora leader Bennelong,[4]) thought the headland resembled the head of that fish.

In 1826, during the establishment of Fort Dumaresq, near Rhyll, coal was reported to have been found in the vicinity of the Cape.[5][6]

The area was purchased from the government in 1868 by John Cleeland, sea captain, publican and owner of the Melbourne Cup winner of 1875, 'Wollomai', he then built Wollomai House, and ran merino sheep from New South Wales. In 1910 his son, John Blake Cleeland, noticed the sand was shifting due to erosion so he planted rows of Marram grass, still evident today.

In 1959, 230 acres (0.93 km2) of farmland was sold and subdivided into housing estates for beach shacks and holiday makers. It was then named ' Woolamai Waters and Woolamai Waters West ', and later renamed ' Cape Woolamai '. Cape Woolamai had a Post Office from 1970 to (probably) 1974 which was open only during summer. A Woolamai Post Office was open from 1911 until 1974;[7] the roads were sealed in the late 1980s and beach shacks gradually turned into more substantial houses. Today Cape Woolamai has a world-renowned surf beach, Woolamai Beach Surf Life Saving Club, and a popular Safety Beach.


The headland contains remnant vegetation and wildlife such as an important breeding colony of the short-tailed shearwater or Australian muttonbird. Volunteer groups such as the Cape Woolamai Coast Action Group conduct regular improvement and maintenance works including weed control and revegetation, it lies within the Phillip Island Important Bird Area, so identified by BirdLife International because of its importance in supporting significant populations of little penguins, short-tailed shearwaters and Pacific gulls.[8]



  1. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Cape Woolamai (State Suburb)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 2007-10-01.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Australian Aboriginal words in English, R. M. W. Dixon, Oxford University Press, 1990, ISBN 0-19-553099-3
  4. ^ Miriam Estensen, The Life of George Bass, Allen and Unwin, 2005, ISBN 1-74114-130-3
  5. ^ "Classified Advertising". The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842). NSW: National Library of Australia. 13 January 1827. p. 1. Retrieved 19 September 2013.
  6. ^ "PROPOSED STEAMER BETWEEN VAN DIEMEN'S LAND AND PORT PHILLIP". The Hobart Town Courier (Tas. : 1827 - 1839). Tas.: National Library of Australia. 4 May 1838. p. 3. Retrieved 19 September 2013.
  7. ^ Premier Postal History, Post Office List, retrieved 2008-04-11
  8. ^ "IBA: Phillip Island". Birdata. Birds Australia. Archived from the original on 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2011-09-17.

External links[edit]