Travel Journal: The Wonder of Wilsons Prom

The wonder of Wilsons Prom

Wilsons Promontory

When we left Canberra, it felt to be a mad dash back to Victoria. We hit the Monaco Highway and just kept going south. We picked up a few items in Canberra, said our goodbyes to Nat and by the time we got to Gippsland Lakes again, we were tired. Worn out. The weekend itself had worn me out.

We stayed only overnight in Lakes Entrance before hitting the road early again the next morning. We were excited about our next destination and everything to now and a few hours beyond, we’d already explored. “Nothing to see here!” It didn’t stop us from stopping to pick up some groceries in Sale. It would be our last ‘big town’ before our destination. As we edged off the highway, following the signs, I found myself getting anxious. This was a place on my Living List. I’d heard much about it. It’s the quintessential place to camp in Australia. Wilson’s Promontory. Yet we weren’t going to camp. This was a splurge for us, knowing we’d just spent 10 days housesitting and had a 2 month housesit coming up, we decided to splurge and stay in a cabin.

Good thing, looking at the forecast. If I haven’t said this before, there are only two things I hate about camping: rain and wind. Actually I can camp in the rain. There’s nothing like hanging out, listening to rain litter patter around you while you read a book or play a game with your camping buddies. But the wind scares the shit out of me and I don’t sleep – at all.

When we drove through the mountains, we were presented with the most amazing views. Only New Zealand has ever competited with this kind of stunning view. Numerous headlands hiding pristine white (and Squeaky!) beaches with crystal blue water sparkling just beyond. And if we were lucky, dolphins playing and whales migrating in those waters.. Â I was not in la-la crazy land, believe me. This place was prime for those experiences.

We descended down into Tidal River. It’s amazing how different something looks in real life after staring at a map online and in paper form, isn’t it. Even Google can’t deliver the amazing reality of being in a place you’ve dreamed of.

And this was a place I’d dreamed of and been looking forward to for a long time.

Wilson’s Promontory is the most southern point on the Australian headland. Where we camped was just near that point and unless you backpacked overnight, you would not get to that most southern point. I say just go to [Tasmania] if you want to go further south! It’s still part of Australia, just not the mainland.

But we were here. I don’t even think Rich had stopped the car fully before I was out of it. And we’d made it to the office before they closed by mere minutes. When we were delivered our cabin keys, it’s like the clock was ticking for the park ranger to get the hell out and home. We were delivered the schpleel in seconds. Where the cabin was, where to go to find the walk trail, what trails were nearby, etc…

With key in hand, we went to settle in.

The cabins at Wilson’s Prom are NOT like the cabins one would imagine: made of log with a large wood fire, simple outlay.

These cabins are not only eco friendly, but built in order for you to be outside and to bring the outside in.

Built in an A frame, side to side, their peak brings in light. There is a wall of windows on one side of the living space, which completely opened up using folding door technology.

On the opposite side was a galley kitchen, with a row of windows at shoulder length that brought not only light in, but enabled you to see outside, even while you were cooking.

In the bedrooms were very large windows and when opened, slide into side pockets, opening completely to the outside. With the bedrooms at opposite ends of the cabins, this completely opened up the space. You felt like you were outside, but still able to reap the benefits of the couches, table and chairs, beds, bathroom and kitchen. It was the perfect setup.

After our initial inspection, we returned to our car in the parking lot to load up the provided trolleys to bring out ‘worldly goods’ inside. Because there’s nothing around for miles, you have to bring your own food and drinks for your entire stay. Because this was a splurge we didn’t have to supply our own linens, which as a nice change.

Wilsons Prom

As I left the cabin from one of my short runs to deliver bags, I looked down and saw a massive wombat. I looked around for Rich, but he was nowhere to be found. I was about to descend the stairs and there was a second.

Now, living in regional Australia, I’ve seen plenty of wombats in my day. Usually it was only at night, usually with them riddled with the mange, but these boys (or girls) looked to be straight out of the zoo. Well fed, beautiful coats. I mean, perfect specimens!

Despite living in Australia for 4 years, travelling through the country during that time and previously, he had yet to see a wombat.

I edged my way past the massive mounds and practically sprinted back to the car.

“Did you see them?” I asked RIch, as he continued to unload the car.

“See what?” he said, continuing the piling.

“The wombats. There were two.” He just looked at me with amazement, shaking his head.

“Go back toward our cabin. They’re right there.”

Of course they weren’t when he went back. Of course.

He would, thankfully,  see many though over the next few days, with one night spent out ‘spotlighting’. He saw a few grazing by the dunes.  We had another who would amble around our cabin in the early morning and again later in the afternoon.  They are nocturnal so I suspect his burrow was somewhere close.

See Harry the Hairy Nose Wombat on the Move!

When the storm hit during our stay, we were thankful we had booked the cabin.  It felt like the wind was going to pick us up and whirl us from Oz to Kansas and back. It was only the next morning, on our usual walkabout, we saw how severe the storm had been. A couple of big trees and several large branches littered the grounds. Someone had even been airlifted out we heard later.

I have to admit though, prior to the storm, I looked at the off-power campers with a little envy. The non-powered sites section was practically empty. My type of camping.  But once that storm hit, phew, glad to be cosied up in the cabin.

During the days, we were up with the sun and wandering.

The photographer in me had itchy fingers the entire time I was there. Between the beaches, the surrounding mountains, the creek and the vistas, there was a lot to photograph. I love it when you can get out of bed, throw on some clothes, grab the camera and be out before the sun peaks the mountains. You become one with nature at that hour.  

As I walked toward the bridge, I ignored the two other photographers, testosterone on high as they compared photography equipment. With a smile and a good morning, I left them to it. I had more important things to do. You know, like take photographs.

With my much loved Olympus, I knew from experience that my photographs would be equal to theirs. They could boast all day long about their massive lens, robust tripods and expensive camera bodies. Great pictures come from the eye, not the equipment, although I will admit (to you) that my camera did not come cheap. But it’s light, compact and allows me to take amazing shots.

Later that day, we walked around headlands, hitting three separate beaches, including Squeaky Beach and Whiskey Bay. It was the perfect day for it, picnic included.

What we didn’t expect, though, was to follow a southern right whale as he made his (or her?) way around the headland. Or, to stop and watch as rescuers tried to save a beached Mum and her calf on the beach. (Only the calf could be saved, sadly.)

It was another day of hiking the next day when we decided to see the summit of Mount Oberon. While it was a push for these old bones, but the 360 degree views from the top were spectacular. I’ve never seen anything like it before. When the clouds rolled in, hitting the mountain and surpassing the peak, sneaking their way around. It was like being in another world. We stood higher than the clouds.

Someone needs to tell the rangers at Wilsons Prom, or at least that ones who make the guides, that it takes more than an hour to hike Mount Oberon. We took more like three hours there and back. Thankfully Rich agreed that the guide was wrong in stating one hour, not just the word of this slow poke. You need at least an hour at the top just to take it all in!

Overlooking Wilsons Prom

Wilsons Promontory was everything I’d imagined. More, to be honest.

I had imagined remote camping and it is certainly that. Remote but with amenities. The last thirty minutes from the nearest town takes you through coastal scrub, sandy plains and rocky hills, before arriving at the grounds.

What I didn’t imagine was how breathtakingly beautiful it was. I can see spending a week here. Hell, I could spend a month at Wilson Prom and be perfectly happy.  The drawback is the cost to stay. Paradise always comes at a cost. Our cabin was definitely a stretch our long-term travel budget but I tell you, it was worth the money for me.  I couldn’t afford that week I would love, but I could swing it camping here.

It was sad to leave Wilsons Promontory. I really felt connected there. Give me a comfortable bed, a hot shower and somewhere to cook, I’m happy. Give me amazing surroundings that inspires me to write and photograph and I’m in heaven.

Unfortunately we needed to press on. The penguins were waiting.

Road out of Tidal River

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