I left Australia in my early 20’s. I’m now in my mid-40’s. Over the years I’ve returned to my homeland on many occasions, and whenever I do I try to get in as much hiking as possible. One place I had always planned to visit, but for one reason or another had never quite made it, was Wilsons Promontory.
Situated on the southern tip of the state of Victoria, this spectacular peninsula offers some of the finest coastal hiking in Australia. When combined with its diverse fauna, granite mountains and peaceful Eucalypt forests, it is one of the country’s most beloved bushwalking destinations.
I finally visited Wilson’s Promontory last month, in the form of a 59 km circuit of the southern section of the park. Below is a trip report/quick and easy backpacking guide for those interested in the hike.
Distance : 59 km (36.7 miles)
Duration : 2 days
Start / Finish :
- Telegraph Saddle
- Tidal River Visitor Centre
- No public transport available to Wilson’s Promontory. Hitchhiking is no longer common in this part of Australia, and if you’re not a local, your best bet would probably be to rent a car in Melbourne, and park it at the Tidal River Visitor Centre while you are hiking.
- All year round.
Maps / Info :
- Permit: You can organise a camping permit online or pick one up at the Parks Office/Tidal River Visitor Centre.
- Maps: The basic trails map available at the Visitors Centre suffices for navigation purposes. However, if you are looking for a little more detail, you can pick up a topo map of the Promontory at the Visitor Centre, purchase a digital download at Mud-maps.com or do the google thing at Topographic-map.com.
- Online Information: See the Wilson Promontory National Park page at Parks Victoria for up-to-date information on conditions in the Park.
- Location: Wilson’s Promontory is situated at the southernmost tip of mainland Australia in the state of Victoria.
- First Inhabitants: Evidence of Aboriginal occupation (Gunai/Kurnai and the Boonerwrung tribes) in the area dates back at least 6,500 years.
- Protected Area: Most of the peninsula is located within the boundaries of the Wilsons Promontory National Park and the Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park.
- Alternative Hikes: There is a wide variety of bushwalking options available in the Park, ranging from under and hour to three or four days. See Parks Victoria’s, Wilsons Promontory Overnight Hikes for details.
- Pre and post hike meals: there is a general store and take-away food shop situated beside the Tidal River Visitor Centre.
- Wilson Promontory Lighthouse: Perched on the southernmost tip of the peninsula, this still active lighthouse affords visitors sweeping views of Bass Strait, and was constructed by convicts between 1853 and 1859.
Route / Conditions :
- Route: Telegraph Saddle > Sealers Cove > Refuge Cove > Little Waterloo Bay > Lighthouse > Roaring Meng > Telegraph Junction > Oberon Beach > Tidal River Visitor Centre.
- Signage: The trails in Wilson’s Promontory NP are very well marked and easy to follow.
- Water: Plenty of creeks and all of the campsites on the southern circuit have a water supply. Officially speaking it is recommended to treat all water.
- Terrain: There is some up and down involved, but the climbs are never that long or steep, and hikers with a moderate level of fitness and experience should have no issues. The Southern Circuit is a combination of well-graded trail, boardwalk, 4WD Track and sandy beaches.
- Beaches, coves, view from Kersops peak, sunrises and sunsets, terrestrial fauna (wallabies, emus, wombats, kangaroos and yellow-tail black cockatoos) and for those with a keen eye and a bit of luck, marine life including dolphins, sea lions, seals and a variety of whales including Humpback, Killer and Southern right.
When I think back on this trip the first thing that comes to mind is not a spectacular view or a memorable animal encounter. Instead, it was the night I spent camping at Refuge Cove.
I arrived just as it was getting dark. Rain was on the way, and naturally I was keen on setting up my shelter up as soon as possible. Sure enough as I drove in the final tent stakes it started to spit. Not more than a couple of minutes later, the heavens opened up and it began to pour.
As I hunkered down in my tent, I broke out into a big grin. It is a very comforting feeling knowing that your warm and dry inside your sleeping bag when its raining cats and dogs outside. Nothing for it but to lie back and listen to the pitter-patter of raindrops on your nylon roof. What makes the experience more intimate than the “at home” equivalent, is the element of proximity. In a tent you are one step closer to nature and the protective barrier is that much thinner. Additionally, there exists a peaceful, meditative quality, and I invariably find that whenever I’m tent-bound for an extended period of inclement weather, not only do I sleep better, but when I am cognizant, my thoughts tend to flow easier as well.
All that said, on this particular night at Refuge Cove, it wasn’t just the sound of rain on my shelter that captivated my attention. Accompanying the precipitation was the rhythmic whooshing of the sea gently lapping upon the shore not more than 50 metres from where I lay. The little waves were like Mother Nature’s bass guitar in the background. The combination providing me with yet another in a long line of “I love hiking” moments. And as I drifted off to the land of nod, my last thoughts were of gratitude; to be where I was, to be doing what I was doing and on a more practical note, that my tent was pitched tautly and was completely leak-free.