Wilsons Promontory—known as ‘the Prom’—was one of the many places in Australia I’d never heard of. It’s the southernmost point of the mainland, and you can drive there from Melbourne in less than four hours.
And drive there you should, because it’s stunning. We went on a whim because we had a spare day before flying to Tasmania, and I’m so glad we did.
National parks in the state of Victoria are free, though there is a fee for camping. We stayed at a caravan park in the nearby town of Toora and drove down for the day, but there are heaps of campsites in Tidal River, on the Prom itself. There’s only a small general store, so if you do camp you’ll want to bring most of your provisions with you.
The speed limit on the Prom is a meandering 30km an hour, and a pox on anyone who doesn’t stick to it. Wild animals roam freely and are often at the mercy of speeding cars, so do everyone a favor and slow down. It’s never nice to see a dead kangaroo on the side of the road.
We started by walking the track to Darby Beach, a wide open sweep of sand that we had almost entirely to ourselves. On the way back we crossed paths with a family of emus and a couple of powerful-looking kangaroos in the scrub. As always, I was amazed; no matter how many native animals I see, I can’t get enough.
Our intention was to then hike to the summit of Mt. Oberon, the highest peak on the Prom. The walking track brochure warned that it was a difficult hike, but I was enticed by the promise of sweeping 360-degree views from the 558 meter peak.
So was everyone else, apparently. The car park was completely full and crawling with people, so we changed our plan and went to the Mt Bishop track instead. It was a moderate 3.7km hike along an easy-to-follow trail past enormous boulders and bloodwood trees oozing a crystalline red sap. Honestly, nothing beats nature and I’m not sure why I spend so much of my time inside.
Towards the end of the afternoon we stopped at Squeaky Beach so I could hear the sound of the smooth quartz sand squeak beneath my feet. Jared took the surfboard out for a paddle and I stayed on the beach, watching a little white dog have the time of its life.
It ran straight from the water to its people, rolled around in the sand, then made a beeline for the open space of my towel. The dog threw itself on its back and writhed furiously, shaking off the sand all over me and the towel, then vanished as quickly as it had arrived.
Which is sort of what we did, because we only spent a day on Wilsons Prom when we could easily have spent three. Despite having no firm time frame on this trip, we have ended up wishing we could have spent more time in some places, and the Prom is one of them.
Still, when I look back on these pictures I’m amazed that they are all from a single day. It reminds me of something Jared said to me once: “You shouldn’t wish your days away.” You can fit an awful lot of spectacular into a spare day, instead of anxiously waiting for the next big thing.