Wilsons Promontory National Park is one of Australia’s natural treasures and a place the locals like to keep to themselves. This pristine wilderness on the southernmost tip of the state of Victoria is affectionately referred to as ‘The Prom’.
From floating down the river on an inner tube (or try an SUP) to throwing yourself in the sea at the end of a lovely forest or coastal walk, Wilsons Prom is a beautifully natural Australian experience. The contrasting blue of the sea, unfeasibly white sand and bright orange lichen on the giant granite boulders are a visual feast.
And it supplied some of my most natural encounters with Australia’s unique wildlife. Imagine walking to the toilet block in the middle of the night and seeing wombats calmly munching the grass! Kookaburras laugh as they watch you prepare your dinner and fluffy long-tailed possums regard you curiously from the trees.
How to visit Wilsons Prom
You need to be wanting to connect with nature when you visit Wilsons Promontory National Park. There are only a few non-camping accommodation options in the main base of Tidal River, including a small eco lodge and some self-contained cabins and lodges.
Most people camp at Tidal River, which has 484 camping and caravan sites in a beautiful location near the beach and river. You’ll need a car to get there and it is 3-4 hours’ drive from the city of Melbourne.
The most important thing to know is that the Prom is so popular the Victoria Park Service runs an annual ballot to assign places during the peak summer season! You will have to enter this ballot in June to reserve and pay for accommodation or camping if you want to visit in December and January. Have a look at the Victoria Parks website to find out more.
Even outside this peak season you have to pre-book. As well as tenting, caravans and camper trailers are popular. If you don’t have your own take a look at this website for prices or second hand ones. Like I said, the locals like to keep this to themselves!
Short Walks in Wilsons Prom
From your base in Tidal River there are a series of easy-to-moderate walks you can do in between having fun in the river or at the beach. These are suitable for all ages and fitness levels.
A must-do walk is from Tidal River to Squeaky Beach. The gorgeous white quartz sand really does squeak when you walk on it! This track is only slightly over two kilometres but take your time and make a day or half-day of this rewarding walk. Extending the walk to Picnic Beach is also recommended.
A relaxed walk along the length of the main beach at Norman Bay and then up the track at the end to Pillar Point, where a tumble of granite boulders offer views back along the beach and coastline, including the many offshore islands.
The Lilly Pilly Gully is a lovely environment for a forest walk. There are a series of walks here from one to 5.8 kilometres and the warm temperate rainforest is filled with lush ferns and wildflowers.
For a longer walk enjoy the four beach walk covering Norman Beach, Tidal Overlook, Squeaky Beach, Picnic Bay and Whisky Bay. This track alternates between beach walking and a clearly marked trail. The distance is about six kilometres so allow half a day.
A tougher work out is the iconic Mount Oberon track. The views from up there are spectacular, rewarding people willing to tackle the 3.4 kilometre moderate-to-hard hike. Make sure you take plenty of water and food, and a jacket and hat as it is often windy and cool on the summit, even in summer.
The Wilsons Promontory Circuit
Serious hikers will want to tackle the classic Wilsons Promontory Circuit, a three-day, 63.7 kilometre trek that circumnavigates the south of the park and offers the opportunity to really experience the scenery and wildlife of this beautiful wilderness. Most hikers carry a backpack with camping supplies for this walk, although there is an option to sleep in a lighthouse keepers’ cottage if you want to cut down on weight.
Tips for visiting Wilsons Prom
Make sure you are well supplied with food and fuel when you head into Wilsons Promontory. There is a tiny general store at Tidal River with some food supplies and basic takeaway hot food. The closes place to buy fuel is 30 minutes’ drive away at the Yanakie Store. For a supermarket you’d have to drive back to South Gippsland.
By Natasha von Geldern
Have you visited Wilsons Promontory National Park?