Australias most southerly mainland National Park, Wilsons Promontory or The Prom as it is often referred to, is one of the most loved and popular national parks in Victoria.
Stretching along some 130 km of rugged coastline, the park boasts granite headlands, fern gullies leading down from the mountains and beautiful forests and is a great spot for hiking and bird watching.
First sighted by Bass and Flinders in 1798, Wilsons Promontory became an important sight for the lighthouse which was built by convict labour over a period of years from 1853-1859.
How to get there
Situated 200 km from Melbourne it is an easy three hour drive along the South Gippsland Highway. Turn south at Meeniyan or Foster. The small tourist town of Tidal River is to be found 30 kms inside the park and is the main tourist centre. There is limited public transport to the park. If not driving your own vehicle there are a number of Melbourne based companies offering tours to the park.
Take a hike !
Hiking is one of the most popular pastimes in the park. There are over 22 walking tracks which offer something for everyone.
One of the easier walks is the Lilly Pilly Gully nature walk which is 5 km. The Mount Oberon walk is only 3.2 km (6.4km return).
There are much longer walks of course such as the 20 km return walk to Sealers Cove and the granite lighthouse which is 40 km return and the 18 km track to the lighthouse is well worth a look. Overnight hikes can also range from one to five nights staying at one of the outstation campsites. There is a guide book available from the tourist centre at Tidal River as well as a brochure on the different drives around the park.
Be one with nature
There are many great beaches and bushland areas, you can see mangroves and mudflats, forest areas and get some amazing views, especially from Mount Latrobe which is the highest peak and can be reached by car. Enjoy exploring the bushland areas and see koalas, wombats and wallabies as well as the very varied birdlife in Wilsons Promontory.
On our last stay in The Prom a wombat came to visit our campsite at night, which was really cool.
There are some safe swimming beaches as well and the beach at Norman Bay is a fine example as is Squeaky Beach with its pure white quartz sand. You can also experience some wonderful marine life snorkelling or scuba diving. For those who prefer to stay above the water there are many fascinating species in the intertidal rock pools.
Although only 200 kms from Melbourne you can feel at one with nature in the Prom. There are over 450 camping and caravan sites at Tidal River which are situated either near the river or the ocean. It is wise to bring a gas or petrol stove as there are no generators allowed and there are no powered sites. Also, campfires are strictly forbidden. For those who prefer a little more comfort there are self contained flats, lodges and motor huts. Tidal River is also your one stop for petrol, post office, general store and takeaway food.
The beauty of Wilsons Promontory with it diverse landscapes, amazing scenery and natural flora and fauna would have to make it one of the best national parks to visit at any time of year.