Rhyll is a coastal township on the north-east coast of Phillip Island in Western Port Bay. It is 80 km south-east of Melbourne, and considerably further by road. It is thought that it was named after Rhyll in northern Wales.
Rhyll is situated on a bluff with coastal mudflats to its north and south and a swamp to its west. Access to Rhyll by road from the south was difficult during wet weather until a road was properly formed. In any event, access to Phillip Island was by water until the bridge at San Remo was constructed in 1940.
There are historic markers at Rhyll commemorating the exploratory visits to Western Port by Bass and Flinders (1798) and Lieutenant James Grant in the Lady Nelson (1802). Dumont D’Urville’s expedition (1826) recorded sealing activities in the vicinity of Rhyll. The mudflats proved profitable for oyster gathering during and after the 1860s, and some selectors of farms at Rhyll were also involved in the oyster industry. Some fishers also ran fishing excursions in Western Port during the 1880s, when the village’s first, but unsuccessful, urban subdivision was promoted.
Selectors took up dairying and chicory growing. Local kilns were constructed for chicory drying after the 1880s, causing much of the local timber to be cut down. In 1891 the school and mechanics' institute were opened. After the turn of the century the population had grown enough to field football and cricket teams. Rhyll received a brief description in the 1903 Australian handbook:
Until the post World War II years Rhyll was a rural village reliant on access by ferry across Western Port and by the bridge at San Remo. In the late 1950s holiday house subdivisions began, and sold well during the 1970s. Many farms became hobby or agistment concerns. A yacht club began in 1971. The school, however, was closed in 1952, as all weather access to Cowes was available.
Rhyll has a public hall, general store, two jetties, a ferry service, a public park and foreshore reserves. The Rhyll conservation area is west of the township, providing habitat for koalas and a wide range of bird life, including migratory and water species.
Rhyll’s census populations have been:
David and Jocelyn Bradley (eds) Within the plains of paradise: a brief history of Rhyll, Phillip Island, Rhyll History Project Committee, 1997
Joshua Wickett Gliddon (compiler), Phillip Island in picture and story, Cowes Bush Nursing Hospital, 1968