Wilsons Promontory National Park

Wilsons Promontory National Park, Gavin Hansford / Tourism Victoria
Barbecue Caravan Disabled Diving Drinking water Fishing Kiosk/Restaurant Park entry fee Shower Swimming Toilets Watersports Wildflowers Wildlife Aboriginal site Accommodation Camping area Information Picnic area Ranger Walking

Introduction

Wilsons Promontory (or the Prom as it is widely known) dips south into the often-turbulent seas of Bass Strait, a wild and beautiful landscape of majestic granite boulders, of forests and heathlands, sandy coves and wonderful beaches. The park offers a multitude of possible activities but it is also the perfect place simply to wind down and enjoy nature at its finest.

Although only 200 kilometres from Melbourne, Wilsons Promontory seems much more remote, a special place that almost has the feeling of an island. Despite its immense popularity (around half a million visitors a year) it retains a low-scale, easygoing atmosphere, and it is not hard to get away from the crowds and enjoy the park’s tranquillity.

If you prefer a little more activity, Tidal River definitely has its own charm, with flocks of friendly crimson rosellas, lovely beaches, a general store, an outdoor cinema in the warmer months, and the prospect of exploring the park on easy day-walks. The visitor centre has informative audio-visual presentations, displays and park notes. There are self-contained cabins, family flats and basic huts, all ideal for those on a budget.

Although the weather can be magnificent, with still days and the sun shining in azure skies, especially in late summer and autumn when it tends to be most reliable, conditions can change suddenly. The Prom is known for its wild and windy weather, so always be prepared. Some areas of the park were extensively damaged by floods in 2011, and recovery projects were ongoing at the time of writing. Check for the latest with Parks Victoria.

Fact file

Access

From Melbourne via South Gippsland Hwy then south at Meeniyan or Foster; Tidal River is 30 km from the park entrance

Best season

Autumn and summer

Location

200 km east of Melbourne; 90 km south-east of Leongatha

Park information

  • PV 13 1963
  • PV Tidal River (03) 5680 9555, 1800 350 552

Permits

Bookings essential for holiday periods; ballot system operates for peak periods; permit required for overnight hikes

Size

53 000 ha

Visitor information

Prom Country (03) 5655 2233, 1800 630 704

Tidal River (03) 5680 9555, 1800 350 552

www.promcountrytourism.com.au

Featured Activities in the National Park

  • Walk along the pure white sands of Squeaky Beach, once dubbed the ‘singing sands’

    Trek to Mount Oberon for panoramic views

    Join an evening tour to see nocturnal mammals

    Head to Lilly Pilly Gully to explore the delights of the warm temperate rainforest

    Snorkel off Norman Bay to enjoy the surprisingly rich marine life

    Take an overnight hiking trip into the park’s northern wilderness areas

See Also

A look at the past

In the early 1800s, well before the colony of Victoria was established, sealers and whalers frequented the waters, plundering the wildlife. In the 1850s and 1860s, timber was shipped from Sealers Cove, and later cattle were grazed in several areas on the promontory. But early visitors seem to have been aware of the rich ecosystems here, and there were soon calls for the area’s preservation. By 1898 the land was reserved for a national park. Today the park is an important refuge for plant and animal life, as well as for the park’s many visitors, and its natural environments and national park status are zealously guarded.

Aboriginal culture

Archaeological records date Aboriginal occupation to at least 6500 years ago. Wilsons Promotory has an abundance of seafood and the area’s vegetation provided an important source of bush tucker. The area has spiritual significance for various Aboriginal groups. It is possible Indigenous people used the Prom as part of a land bridge connecting the mainland with Tasmania. Today local Aboriginal communities are active in park management activities.

Natural features

The Prom juts into the often-wild seas of Bass Strait, the most southerly point of the Australian continent, and the northernmost edge of the mountain range that once linked the mainland to Tasmania, until the ice caps melted and the sea level rose around 15 000 years ago. The 130-kilometre coastline rims a landmass of rugged granite, with imposing headlands, and an indented coast of coves and sandy beaches. Back from the shoreline, the landscape is one of tidal mudflats, coastal dunes and heathlands, dramatic rock formations and sheer cliff-faces and, further inland, open woodlands and rainforests with fern-rimmed creeks and pools.

Native plants

The park’s plant life is particularly rich, with more than 700 native species including many species common to Tasmania, as well as the country’s most southerly stands of white mangrove. Eucalypt forests, including soaring mountain ash, sweep down to the fern-lined gullies; temperate rainforest with its canopy of glossy-leaved lilly pilly adjoins pockets of wetland, and windswept heathlands give way to even lower-lying coastal vegetation. The heathlands flower in winter, but keen eyes will spot delicate wildflowers at almost any time of year.

Wildlife

The Prom’s many habitats provide a home for a remarkable diversity of animal life, with more than 30 mammal and 180 bird species (half the bird species found in Victoria). Eastern grey kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas and wombats can be seen (even around Tidal River), especially at dawn and dusk, when these shy animals emerge to feed.

Watch for nectar-feeding tawny-crowned honeyeaters in the banksia woodlands, southern emu-wrens in the heathlands, emus roaming in open areas, and seabirds, notably the majestic white-bellied sea-eagle, soaring overhead. You may catch a glimpse of the heath-dwelling ground parrot in the Cotters Lake area or in the heathlands south of Millers Landing. Waders and migratory birds scavenge for food along the shorelines – pied oystercatchers, grey plovers and red-necked stints probe the mudflats at Corner Inlet, white-faced herons, Australian white ibis, cormorants and terns frequent the tidal flats of Shallow Inlet, and along the Prom’s eastern beaches you may see pied and sooty oystercatchers and hooded and red-capped plovers. Silver and pacific gulls nest on the offshore islands but are a common sight.

The deep, clear surrounding waters, protected within a number of marine parks, are the hunting grounds of penguins and seals, and from high vantage points you may spot whales on their annual migrations. At low tide explore the rock pools for signs of intriguing sea life.

Introduction

The Prom offers plenty of diversions for the holidaymaker including swimming, great surfing, and snorkelling and scuba diving to enjoy the colourful underwater scenery, to name a few. The park is also a favourite with bushwalkers, photographers and wildlife-watchers. During holiday periods, rangers run guided walks and night-time spotlighting tours.

Canoeing and kayaking

The tranquil waters of Tidal River are perfect for beginners and children, while sea-kayaking offshore is also popular.

Fishing

All methods of fishing (from the shore or at sea) are prohibited in Wilsons Promontory and Corner Inlet marine national parks. However, fishing is permitted in the marine parks (see map). Surf-fishing off Whisky Bay is popular.

Scenic touring

The drive from Yanakie to Tidal River is an introduction to some of the park’s varied habitats and history, and a chance to indulge in some wildlife-watching – look for kangaroos, wombats and emus. The scenery is picturesque, Darby River is a lovely picnic spot, and a side road leads to the beaches at Picnic and Whisky bays.

Snorkelling and scuba diving

The waters surrounding the park have been described as a ‘blue wilderness’, with forests of waving kelp, dramatic underwater caves and pinnacles, masses of fish and colourful corals. Australian fur-seals and little penguins swim in these waters. Pillar Point near Tidal River and Refuge Cove on the east coast are excellent snorkelling and diving sites.

Swimming and surfing

Family-friendly beaches and some fine surfing spots draw people back each summer. Norman Bay is safe for families, and sometimes has good surf. Sealers Cove and Refuge Cove have sheltered, calm bays.

Campsites

Barry Creek camping area (walk-in camping)

As with the other campsites around the national park, you can’t stay at the Barry Creek camping area for more than 2 nights. From the carpark on Five Mile Rd, which leads east off Wilsons Promontory Rd, it’s... Find out more


Five Mile Beach camping area (walk-in camping)

Five Mile Beach arrows along the eastern coast of Wilsons Promontory between Monkey Point and the headland that hides gorgeous Sealers Cove. This generous sweep of sand is a great place to go beachcombing, swimming or... Find out more


Halfway Hut camping area (walk-in camping)

Walkers keen on getting to the lighthouse perched on the south-eastern tip of the promontory stride down Telegraph Track from Telegraph Saddle and stop for a breather after 7 km at Halfway Hut. Along the way, some choose... Find out more


Little Waterloo Bay camping area (walk-in camping)

The campsites at Little Waterloo Bay are within easy reach of the beautiful, sheltered stretch of water between Cape Wellington and Waterloo Point, with Mt Wilson as a backdrop to the west. The track leading here from... Find out more


Lower Barry Creek camping area (walk-in camping)

From the Five Mile Rd carpark, you’ll need to walk for 9.7 km to reach Lower Barry Creek – the route leads east down Five Mile Rd before branching north on a separate trail that starts just to the west of... Find out more


Oberon Bay camping area (walk-in camping)

Oberon Bay is just around Norman Point from Tidal River, and makes a wonderful introduction to camping on the promontory. You can reach Oberon by walking south from Telegraph Saddle down Telegraph Track and then taking... Find out more


Refuge Cove camping area (walk-in camping)

Refuge Cove is around Horn Point from the equally sublime Sealers Cove. There’s a fine lookout just south of here up Kersop Peak on Cape Wellington. The 6.4 km trail from Sealers down to the camping area at the... Find out more


Roaring Meg camping area (walk-in camping)

Roaring Meg is the southernmost camping area in Wilsons Promontory National Park, a 4.5 km walk down Telegraph Track from Halfway Hut. From here, you can veer south-west to have a squiz at the rough coastline around... Find out more


Sealers Cove camping area (walk-in camping)

From the carpark at Telegraph Saddle, it’s a hike of just over 10 km past the Wilson Range to reach magical Sealers Cove, nestled on the eastern coast of the promontory. Before you set out, follow the steep 3.4 km... Find out more


Tidal River camping area

Tidal River, at the end of Wilsons Promontory Rd, is a large, well-equipped campground back behind the dunes of stunning Norman Bay. There are myriad short walks you can do in the area, including the Lilly Pilly Gully... Find out more


Tin Mine Cove camping area (walk-in camping)

Tin Mine Cove is at the north-eastern tip of Wilsons Promontory, west of Mt Hunter. It requires 11 km of very difficult walking to get here from Lower Barry Creek. Have a swim in Corner Inlet or at the nearby Chinaman... Find out more


See Also

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