SURROUNDED BY OCEAN ON THREE SIDES
Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
322Trip End Oct 31, 2013
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Where I stayed
WILSONS PROMONTORY CAMP GROUND
Journey: Melbourne to Tidal River, Wilsons Promontory
Weather: sunny 20 degrees at 10am
Mileage: 13517 kms
We have been so lucky with the weather and today was a lovely sunny day as we set off for Wilsons Promontory. Most of the journey is on the motorways but we did stop at Pakenham to buy fuel; we were getting nervous when the GPS kept us on the motorway for so long and the fuel gauge was heading for Reserve and we don't know how much fuel is in the reserve tank but anyhow……..
The GPS landed us in Pakenham which has a service station and huge shopping centre. We met a man while shopping there, who raved to us about Wilsons Promontory, our destination, said his wife had spent every Xmas for 30 years there and it was paradise. He made a list of walks to do and was "so jealous" and said he would schedule a holiday there soon. Actually, whenever you mention Wilsons Prom., to people who have been there, the ravings begin!
We had lunch, hurried away and after a journey of 220 kms, reached Tidal River at around 5pm. There is a 30 km road from the park entrance, where you get information to the camp ground and we were full of anticipation!
Well, people have waxed lyrical about this national park and even at first glance you can understand why. Norman Beach is gorgeous, wide, safe and the sea blue, edged by mountains and headlands as lovely as Freycinet. The shallow Tidal River, tinged red by the trees up river makes a colourful contrast to the granite rocks and creamy sand.
There are 500 camping sites here and it took a while to choose one with grass on the ground and open to the sun above, for the solar panels. We located a perfect spot, had a walk around and then set about meeting our neighbours and preparing dinner. We set up our kitchen and dining room outdoors, which we have not been able to do for weeks and it felt spacious and lovely.
Our closest neighbours were a charming family from Switzerland and we have met quite a few Swiss people on our travels; we had a good chat about Swiss and Aussie life and habits before they set out for their nocturnal search for animals with their torches.
Unpowered camp sites are $23 pn, the facilities are modern and clean with hot showers, flush toilets, a laundry, a general store, café and outdoor cinema, and so, although you are in the wilderness you have all these modern comforts! The water is drinkable and sweet!!
Bass Strait seas, often turbulent, with accompanying wild and windy weather. The 130 km coastline is dotted with stunning little coves and sandy beaches, rugged granite rock formations, and interesting coastal headlands and rain forest with giant ferns. Certainly this place is a stunning paradise.
The tall and mighty sand dunes and tidal mud flats and sheer cliff faces add to the magnificence and you just keep going aaah and oooh as you climb another hill or turn a corner. We had magnificent still days with the sun shining brightly in the azure blue skies, cool still nights with one exception when we got wind and rain and temperatures cold overnight and warm by day. Wow! Can we stay here forever?? No, the camp ground and accommodations are fully booked over Easter and according to the ranger they have hundreds on the waiting list. Oh well, we will return some day!
Wildlife: the camp ground was home to Dude the big grey kangaroo and even though the rangers had tried to relocate him when his partner died he just keeps returning to Tidal River. He had a large name tag around his neck and was the subject of many photographs.
There were quite a few wombat holes around the area and at dusk we always saw several right where we were, nibbling at the grass. Apparently they have been known to tear their way into tents looking for food, the result of them associating humans and tents with food.
The shores were home to terns and oyster catchers, sea gulls and the bigger Pacific Gull.
Gorgeous rosellas were constantly checking the camp ground for food and some would land on you to get closer. We encountered a family of emus at Lake Cotter as we left the park. Let’s not forget the snake stretched across the walking track, sunbaking and reluctant to move off! You get spooked when you get to see these guys which are many but generally remain hidden. On the other hand the cute echidna is always a pleasure to encounter and we did!
There were a few wildflowers in bloom and we were fascinated by the Dusty Miller, with strange flowers that looked more like leaves. The strangled trunks of the trees told the story of wild winds and we enjoyed the lilly pilly forest on a hot day, green and cool.
It feels remote and despite the facilities and accessibility, it is easy to escape the crowds on the many stunning little beaches or on the well maintained and scenic walking tracks.
We were surprised to see so many holiday makers on Norman Beach, mostly Victorians on school holidays, swimming, kayaking, sunbaking and playing, cycling etc. The autumn weather was close to hot and people were really making the best of this wonderful weather.
On our second day, we completed the “3 Beaches Walk” which took us above Tidal River and Norman Beach to Leonards Beach and the spectacular Squeaky Beach, named so because the white quartz sand particles are all the same size and that the sand squeaks as you plough through it.
Needless to report, the beach is gorgeous on this sunny day; the track leads over another headland to Picnic Bay and we found ourselves alone on this lovely long beach.
The access to Whisky Bay was closed due to bushfire damage so we retraced our steps and enjoyed the spectacularly scenic return trek, this time taking in Pillar Point; from here we had views back over our journey and the granite islands out to sea.
The 12 km walk was a treat and we reported back to our friendly neighbours Nancy and Allan that we had had a splendid day; they had been to the park many times and had lots of input and information for us.
The following day, Allan drove us the 4.5 kms to the starting point for the Mount Oberon walk and we were grateful that he did because the road was steep and we knew we had another steep stretch of 3.5 kms to reach the 588m summit of the mountain. We had planned to walk the road but Allan said he remembered that it was a narrow winding road and insisted it was no bother to take us. He is such a lovely guy and even gave us his mobile phone number to call him when we reached the car park on return.
The walk was on a service road, probably built by Telstra because they had towers established close to the top, (but could be from the World War 2 commando training camp days)- who knows? It was steep enough to really set the heart beating! The road was edged by forest and there were not many views of the land below until you reach the summit and then it is the wow factor. You feel like you can see everything and even though there is some cloud in the horizon we can see our camp ground and surroundings clearly. Other climbers joined us and we all sat a while on the high granite out crops and talked, took in the views and clicked away on cameras. We trekked the 8 kms down hill (tough on the quads) back to camp and enjoyed a strong coffee and something to eat. We thanked Allan for the ride and compared impressions of this popular trek. Allan’s wife and friends were doing an overnight trek to the light house so we invited him to join us for the evening and we sat under the stars with a few drinks and much story telling. This was another great day at Wilsons Promontory.
Saturday was a chill out day with the newspapers and some time on Norman Beach, taking in the sun, catching up with the neighbours and watching the world go by.
The weather turned wild and wet overnight and we had to close everything in the van but morning turned out sunny and had reached 28 degrees when we took off for Little Oberon Bay.
This is an 8.5 km trek through tea tree covered sand dunes and great views of the off shore islands and we were not prepared for the revelation that was Little Oberon Bay; you get early glimpses of the sea rolling into the white sandy beach, backed by tall dunes and orange tinged rocks. No one had really singled this bay out for special praise so we surprised and thrilled by the place and so were the family following behind us who squealed with joy and just ran onto the beach and into the water, some in bathers, some in their clothes and as other people reached the spot later, inspired by the beauty and the unorthodoxly dressed swimmers took the plunge. We stuck to paddling the water and had to run to avoid the occasional wild wave that came unexpectedly further in shore. We forgot to mention that the water was a shade of turquoise, more stunning against the glow of the white sand. Could this be the prettiest beach in Australia?
We completed the Tidal Overlook Circuit to stretch our legs, and on Tuesday March 30 we did the12 km Lilly Pilly Gully and Mt Bishop Circuit. The climb to the summit of Mt Bishop is easy and gradual through gullies of ferns and recently burned trees. When you reach the granite slab at the peak the panorama is across the bay and as always, spectacular is the word to describe what you see.
Leaving the mountain you enter a cooler forest and finally reach the lilly pilly gully. There is a boardwalk through the forest into cool dark areas of tree ferns and a silent running creek. We avoided a snake stretched out across the track but he needed a lot of encouragement to get moving back into the forest so that we could pass.
This was a lovely trek of contrasts!
In summary Wilsons Promontory is a perfect place to walk, swim, chill out or do whatever in paradise. Victorians treasure the park but we are not sure if it is a well known destination for all Aussies; perhaps the Victorians want it kept a secret but we did read that over 400,000 people visit each year and that if you want to camp here in school holidays or long weekends you need to enter a ballot/lottery draw. So maybe we were the only ones to not know about this place!
We reluctantly packed up on Thursday morning after 8 delightful nights here, called in at Whisky Beach for another visual treat and took the road to Cotters Lake to catch a look at a family of emus.