Wilsons Promontory: Kendall Hill discovers the coastal wilderness fans are bonkers about
When my first abroad journey in ages was abruptly cancelled – thanks, Omicron – I went just a little wild. With time abruptly on my palms it was the excellent excuse to go to a land I’ve by no means been to earlier than. Someplace I’ve been that means to go for ages since everybody I do know raves about it All The Time.
Wilsons Promontory should be the best-loved stretch of Victoria’s shoreline. It has so many fanatic admirers.
After I informed my pal W, a Promenade nut, that I used to be lastly heading down there she despatched me a blizzard of messages – 21 in whole – with suggestions, hand-drawn maps and even written directions for methods to discover her favorite “secret” seashore.
She did all this from her hospital mattress. Like I stated, individuals are bonkers about the Promenade.
For these unfamiliar, Wilsons Promontory is a 500sq km wilderness nationwide park (established in 1898) protecting the southernmost tip of the Australian mainland. It’s a three-hour drive southeast of Melbourne through rippling hillsides of emerald pastures and lots of cows.
See additionally: Melissa Leong’s foodie journey to Wilsons Promenade
See additionally: The place to hike in Wilsons Promontory
At the nationwide park entrance the panorama turns all mountains and drama. Moody granite peaks crowd the shore which, up till about 15,000 years in the past, linked us to Tasmania. That explains why this land jogs my memory a lot of Tassie’s beautiful east coast –particularly the Bay of Fires and Freycinet Peninsula.
The Promenade’s 130km shoreline contains bushlands, wetlands, grasslands, rainforest and scrumptious seashores edged in granite boulders flamed with orange lichens.
House to myriad plant species and a menagerie of Australia fauna, it may well generally really feel extra like a petting zoo than a rugged promontory.
In the house of 24 hours I encounter emus, kangaroos, sea eagles, an echidna, a juvenile albatross, clouds of yellow-tailed black cockatoos, parrots of varied vibrant persuasions, kookaburras, a riot of excellent fairy wrens, honeyeaters, a microbat and even, in my entrance yard, a mom and child koala munching fortunately on manna gum leaves.
I pull into the Tidal River campgrounds round lunchtime when the air’s thick with scorching sausages. I instantly remorse not getting a cabin right here in the coronary heart of the nationwide park, however I made the rookie mistake of not reserving a 12 months prematurely. The Promenade actually is that widespread. (I snag a cute Airbnb in Sandy Level outdoors the park – with bonus koalas – so I’m completely satisfied.)
Mountain climbing is the huge drawcard right here. There are greater than 30 strolling tracks starting from an hour to in a single day. I deal with some straightforward ones: the Promenade Wildlife Stroll, a brief circuit by means of grasslands overrun with emus and jap gray kangaroos. The Huge Drift, a 40-minute stroll through tea tree-scented bush to reach at an unlimited ridge coated totally in sand dunes. It’s fairly one thing.
And I stroll right down to Picnic Bay, however there are two individuals in the water already – I hate crowded seashores – so hike to close by Whisky Bay as a substitute and discover it busy with newbie surfers.
Sigh. Again to Picnic Bay, a shimmering crescent of sand and see-through ocean, the place the two swimmers have fortunately vanished. I stride by means of the shallows to the far finish and take a dip in crystalline waters. Since nobody else is round I strip off and dry myself and my swimmers, individually and daringly, towards the sun-warmed boulders. Whole bliss.
Subsequent morning I return to Tidal River and the workplace of Pennicott Wilderness Journeys – simply in entrance of the open-air cinema – to hitch an expedition round the Promenade’s coast and marine park.
About 17 of us huddle in drizzle as skipper Justin Edgelow outlines what to anticipate on the Southern Ocean.
“Be warned,” he says. “The wind was solely imagined to be 17 knots, but it surely’s 30. So it’s gonna be windy and it’s gonna be lumpy in spots – yeah, lumpy.”
He affords the choice of rebooking for tomorrow however nobody flinches. We dutifully don purple coverall slickers and climb aboard Pennicott’s amphibious boat at Norman Seaside.
We drive into the ocean till the outboard takes over, urging us into indignant surf the place waves crash over the bow and throughout me. I really feel extra alive than I’ve in months.
The situations are foul so we don’t attain well-known Cranium Rock or Kanowna Island, house to a flourishing Australian fur seal colony. As a substitute we stick near shore, admiring mosaic coastlines of loopy granite shapes and the pastel gardens of the interior islands.
We go to South Level, mainland Australia’s southernmost tip, whereas trying throughout to Rodondo Island, the northernmost tip of Tasmania. Then we motor previous Anser Island, ogling long-nosed fur seals and Cape Barren geese towards pig-faced hillsides.
I’m impressed by the plucky perspective of crew and passengers. Situations are extraordinarily common however, as deckhand Sam Benra says early on, “Let’s simply make the most of it, hey?”
Which feels like fairly nice recommendation for all times usually. Particularly in a pandemic.
For individuals who know the Promenade nicely and love the place, these would possibly seem to be once-over-lightly observations. Which they are. However I acquired the attraction. I actually did. And I can’t wait to return. To deal with extra hikes, swim at extra seashores, meet extra critters. Maybe in 2023 when, hopefully, I’d rating a kind of coveted Tidal River cabins.
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