My partner and I recently went on a camping trip to Wilson’s Promontory in Victoria, Australia. “the Prom” as it’s known colloquially is a peninsula that extends to the southernmost point of the Australian mainland and is a vast wilderness of bushland and wildlife perfect for anyone wanting to escape the concrete jungle for the weekend.
Our plan was to knock-off work early on the Friday afternoon and be on the road no later than 6pm. The drive to the Prom takes around 3 hours from Melbourne so it was more than likely we would be pitching the tent in the dark. This was somewhat concerning to me as the tent was brand new and we hadn’t used it before. Nevertheless we were determined to go down on the Friday evening so we hit the road.
By 7pm we were cruising through the sweeping landscapes of Gippsland and making good time. By 8pm the sun was going down and we were getting close to the entrance to the Wilson’s Promontory National Park. This posed an unexpected slow down in our progress. The road into the Prom is surrounded by dense bushland that’s home to a large population of Wombats, Kangaroos, Wallabies and many other species of Australia’s famed wildlife. I had always heard that it wasn’t particularly safe to drive at night in the Victorian countryside because this was when all the animals get active. This couldn’t be more true in Wilson’s Prom’s case. There were Kangaroos hopping all over the road and Wombats around every other corner. We had to reduce our speed to a crawl to avoid sharing the front seat with an errant Kangaroo. We did get there in the end and without incident. Pitching the tent in the dark wasn’t ideal but with the help of the cars headlights we managed pretty quickly.
The main campground at Wilson’s Prom is called Tidal River and consists of a large number of sites nestled amongst tea tree and gravel access roads. It’s very popular with families in summer and I would recommend booking a site if your going to go down during this period. Lucky for us, we were there just before the busy period (late October) and although it wasn’t swimming weather having an almost empty campground was a huge plus.
We awoke to a crisp morning, after getting little sleep on the slow-leaking air bed. Unfazed, we had some breakfast and set off on a hike to Little Oberon Bay. Wilson’s Promontory is well-known for its hiking and walking tracks as well as its wildlife, pristine beaches and jaw-dropping scenery. It’s actually one of the most stunning places in terms of natural beauty that I have ever been to. On the way to the track we saw wombats left right and center and they were so tame. We could get literally a few feet from them. It was a surreal experience to see them like that in the wild. Speaking of wombats and wildlife there are a few things to watch out for at the Prom. Firstly, the birds are very aggressive. The seagulls have no fear and will snatch food straight from your hand if they get the smallest opportunity. The other creatures to look out for are the Wombats themselves, but only at night and only if you leave food lying around. Wombats have a keen sense of smell and have been known to rip tents to shreds to get at the food left in peoples tents. Besides the seagulls we didn’t have any issues.
The hike to Little Oberon Bay took us around an hour each way and is an easy to moderate walk. It starts off meandering through the bush until you reach Norman Beach where the track heads upwards and winds around the cliffs. There are jaw-dropping ocean views of Norman Beach and the Southern Ocean and keep an eye out for wildlife. We saw an echidna, a little grass snake and heaps of native birds. Little Oberon Bay is a nice secluded sandy beach with dumping surf. Probably not the best beach for swimming but Norman Beach looked perfect for a swim.
We spent the rest of the day relaxing, reading and playing cards. There is a fully stocked shop and cafe at Tidal River as well as BBQs and good bathroom facilities. The shop is somewhat lacking in variety and they do not sell any alcohol. We always take some good wine on our camping trips, there’s nothing better than cooking dinner on the camp stove with a glass of wine!
The next morning we packed up and drove back to Melbourne. I highly recommend a trip to the Prom and we only scratched the surface on what it has to offer. We’re planning our next trip down there as we speak. For more information visit Parks Victoria website