Wilsons Promontory and Why It’s One of My Favourite Places in the World
While still attracting many tourists and even local campers every year Wilsons Promontory National Park sits as a lesser sister to the world famous Great Ocean Road.
A large national park at the bottom of Victoria, just a short day trip from Melbourne, Wilsons Promontory is stunningly beautiful. The landscape is like nothing else I have seen in the world and I think this place sums up just why so many people travel to Australia despite it being a notoriously expensive travel destination.
I grew up about an hour’s drive from Wilsons Prom, or the ‘The Prom’ as it is affectionately known in my hometown. This meant that Nan would often throw us into the car on a nice day and we would head down there to go to the beach and have a picnic. To put it into context we have a lovely beach about 20 minutes away from my grandparents place, but it sure didn’t have the landscape or beauty of Wilsons Promontory. One Christmas we even rented the park’s largest cabin and all of my extended family spent the Christmas week in this paradise.
All of the land is protected by Parks Victoria, who put an amazing amount of work into maintaining the trails as well as the native flora and fauna. There are walks available for all levels of skill from a 1.5km leisurely stroll to the beach to a 40+km hike that most people do in about 4 days. I myself have done the walk to Squeaky Beach, Darby Beach and up to Mt.Oberon (this comes very recommended as a day trip as it will give you amazing panoramic views of the park). However the highlight for me was when we did the 20km return walk to Sealer’s Cove, which also happens to be the first stop on the 40km loop. The Cove is exceptional serene, it’s very sheltered and therefore the water is a still crystal blue. The walk there will also take you through some really nice bush and forest.
Beyond the hiking there are many beautiful beaches, the two main ones being Norman Beach, adjacent to the main camping grounds, and Squeaky Beach, named for the squeaky sound of your feet jumping on the sand. Tidal river is also a good option for swimming just by Norman Beach and is often a choice for families as it’s safer for kids to splash around here than in the surf beach. These beaches are typically Australian- blue water, beautiful yellow sand and if you are lucky a blue sky to match. In my opinion, given their protected status and the way the park controls the amount of people coming into the park, these beaches are better than the over-populated and over-used ones you will find on the Great Ocean Road.
If you want to camp here you can book a campsite most of the year by calling the local park office. However it is very difficult to camp during the summer months and during school holidays, where campsites and cabins operate on a ballot system. However any other time of the year I would definitely recommend making a trip of it, if camping isn’t for you there are some great fully functional self contained cabin options as well. Also if you are doing the 4 day hike you get camping all year round, regardless of the ballot system so this is definitely an option in summer.
Logistically, getting to Wilsons Promontory can be difficult. It is not easily accessible by public transport, and thus it’s necessary that you hire a car or convince a local to drive you down there. If you check out local sites like Gumtree or the Melbourne forum on Couchsurfing or even ask around your hostel it’s usually pretty easy to find people to split the costs with.