From the Yarra Valley we headed straight to the Prom, it really does have it’s own micro-climate, while the weather is doing one thing in Melbourne it can be doing something completely different here. There is a lovely charm about this ruggard granite peninsular with its squeaky white quartz beaches and its home to the most southerly point of mainland Australia accessible by a walking track only.
We spent 5 nights here, having visited before in Nov 2015 for a couple of nights and falling in love with the place. We used Tidal River as our camping base to tackle the hikes, for a National Park campsite has a wealth of facilities including a shop, cafe, laundry and information centre. The shop is well stocked but you might not get everything you want and the nearest shops are about 20 minutes from the entrance to the park so its well worth stocking up in Foster to pick up supplies and also explore the quaint little town of Fish Creek. The Great Southern Rail Trail runs through Fish Creek and if we had more time, we would have loved to do a section of this trail on our bikes. If you don’t fancy camping there are cabins, retreats and huts at Tidal River and you can even stay in a lighthouse within the park, check out all the accommodation on the Parks and Wildlife Website. The powered and unpowered camping sites can also be booked here although in peak season they book up very quickly and well in advance, they are also more expensive than the average National Park site. If you don’t need power our top tip is that the unpowered sites are so much nicer than the powered and you save yourself money too. With the unpowered sites you can choose to be near the river or the beach, we have camped in both areas, both are beautiful and you can access them easily from each other. Once you set up camp you can walk straight out and wander on the beach, the sunsets here are just beautiful and many people head up to Mt Oberon to watch this.
Over the 4 days we were here we did 3 big days of walking, one taking in the tracks around the campsite and the other two were part of an overnight backpack. During our stay we had a wet, windy, wild night and day, so instead of the beach walked we had planned, we went into Fish Creek and drank lots of coffee and explored the shops with our friend Pru who came to visit for a night from Melbourne.
WALK 1: Mt Bishop, Lilly Pilly +Pillar Point
DISTANCE : 16.6km
START POINT + END POINT: Tidal River Campsite
It was a beautiful day and we knew the weather was turning tomorrow, so we decided on a long circular walk by combing the Mt Bishops summit track, Lilly Pilly Circuit and then back via Tidal Overlook and Pillar Point. This walk offers a good climb, amazing views in both the rainforest and bush. This Wilson Promontory walk website is a great resource for all the walking tracks as well as the Victoria Parks and Wildlife website. You can also checkout the route from my Garman 920XT that I love and use for most of our hikes. On the circuit you can take an optional boardwalk, which has information boards on the local flora and fauna. After leaving the Lilly Pilly Carpark and heading up the Tidal Overlook track there is a lovely big flat rock, with views of Mt Bishop you will have just climbed, perfect for lunch.
That evening our friend joined us and so we had a a beautiful evening walk leaving the campsite and heading onto the Loo-Ern track to the Norman Bay track and then back along the beach. If you’re wanting an even bigger walk. You can add this to the circuit too.
WALK 2:Little Waterloo Bay, Refuge & Sealers Cove
DISTANCE: 35.5km [ Overnight ]
START POINT + END POINT: Mt Oberon Car Park
When we arrived on the Prom, our initial plan was to was to do the two day overnight hike to the southern most point of the Australian Mainland. However having met some lovely local girls rescuing their tent from the stong winds the night before we quickly changed our mind as they told us the track wasn’t as much fun as Sealers Cove. So we headed to the information centre and booked our camping permit and campground. This is a great system that means this walk isn’t overly busy and the rangers know who’s out there and if you have safely returned. We kept our camper trailer setup at Tidal River so we could make an early start and come back “home” to be all set up after our second day carrying the backpacks. If you choose to do this walk on the weekend or have two cars there are more options open to you as there is a bus which runs from the information centre up to the Telegraph Saddle Carpark allowing you to start there and finish back at the campsite.
Day 1: 18.9km
The first part of the walk headed off from the carpark, along the Telegraph Track which is effectively a long management dirt road, definitely not the most scenic part of the track, so for us it was good to get this bit down first and a few easy Km’s under our belt. It made us think it would have been much more fun to have started at Tidal River and ended at Telegraph Saddle and used the weekend bus service or vice versa. From Telegraph Junction the track changes and its an undulating mix of sandy tracks and swamps until you hit the beach, which is just stunning and an empty stretch of sand and crystal blue ocean. A little further along we had lunch on Little Waterloo Bay Beach and got caught out in a short sharp shower, but it was great to be on this side of the Prom where we were no longer getting smashed by the winds we had the previous night. Our Drifta camper trailer stood up to gusts of around 75km, nicely, while others were left battered and broken. From the white sands of little Waterloo Bay we climbed over some steep rocks through beautiful woodland with the option of climbing Kersops peak (We didn’t on our trip). We were then treated to some amazing views of the cove as we dropped back down onto the beach and into the pure white sands of Refuge Cove Camp. We set up our tent for the night, had a walk along the beach and then cooked dinner. They have these amazing woodern platforms which you can use as a table with logs pulled around as seats. We used the backcountry freeze dried packs again for this trip and had roast chicken and then an apricot desert to finish with, not quite the steak and red wine we had on the Freycinet Peninsular hike [Rich is making me a tougher backpacker].
Day 2: 16.6km
After breakfast we headed uphill through the forest, before descending back on to the beach at the stunning Sealers Cove. The weather was perfect for walking, cool, dry and the wind had stayed away, but having lived in WA for so long we were not about to jump in the water it was a little cold for that, but it looked lovely for swimming. [Check the tide time in advance so you don’t have a deep water crossing at Sealers Creek ]. The final section started with board walk through the forest before heading up and over the top of Mt McAlister, were we had lunch at the top on another groovy wooden platform. From the top of Mt McAlister you wind down the valley crossing lots of gullies on lovely new paths. You get to see through information boards just how powerful Mother Nature is, as all this was washed away in the 2011 storms and has been painstakingly rebuilt. Once back at the Telegraph Saddle Carpark, you have the option to go up Mt Oberon, but we opted to head back to our site down the road [ not a great road to walk up or down, but doable] and cooked dinner with a nice glass of red. Another lovely backpacking adventure, I think I’m hooked and wish I had discovered it in my 20s not as I reach 40.
On our last trip we did some of the smaller walks out to each of the amazing beaches, the sand really does squweek, don’t miss these. Had the weather been nicer we had planned to walk these again starting at Tidal River and ending at Whisky Bay and returning along the same track. Check out the day hikes on the Victoria Parks and Wildlife site.
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