(I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land, the Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation, and pay respect to their Elders, past and present.)
I have lived in the same area of Melbourne, Australia, for my entire life ⏤ 23 years to be exact ⏤ and 2 hours away from here is Wilsons Promontory National Park. But up until the 1st of January 2019, I had never been.
For those who may not know about Wilsons Prom, it’s 50,460 hectares of national park and 15,500 hectares of marine national park, located at the southernmost point of mainland Australia. It’s big, beautiful, luscious and packed with wonderful things to explore. I bet you’re already wondering why I didn’t visit sooner… And don’t worry, I’m asking myself the same thing.
But instead of getting drunk on New Year’s Eve and waking up with a hangover, I went to bed at about 10 pm and woke up early to head on a magical day trip to Wilsons Prom. Better late than never, right?
Due to it being the middle of summer, I was lucky enough to have a lot of daylight hours to explore. I entered the park at about 9 AM, and didn’t leave until after 8 PM. But depending on the time of year that you choose to visit, it’s advised that day trippers exit the park before sunset, so definitely keep that in mind.
The park itself is HUGE, so you certainly won’t have time to see everything (you’d probably need a whole week there and some good walking shoes, as some of the hikes are pretty intense), but for those like me who just want a quick day trip, it’s definitely more than doable!
Entry is free so you just drive through the gates and start your journey through the park. But my suggestion would be to stop at the entrance and grab a map ⏤ or download it here ⏤ as signs can easily be missed.
AND MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ENOUGH FUEL! There are no petrol stations inside the park, so please ensure you have enough fuel to last for the day.
What to do:
How you spend your time in Wilsons Prom is totally up to you; you can spend your whole day at one of the many incredible beaches, do a few short walks, hike up to the summit of Mount Oberon, or even go on a scenic drive. The options are endless so my suggestion would be to just choose whatever feels right on the day.
I did most of the short walks that were available, as well as climbing Mount Oberon, seeing wildlife, relaxing on the beach and dancing on the sand dunes too. It was 22km of walking in total… Brutal I know, but totally worth it.
If you love getting out in nature, going on walks and getting to know our local furry friends (from a distance of course), then the Wilsons Prom walks will be totally up your alley. There’s a huge selection of short walks that you can fit into a single-day trip, so as always, do a bit of research and find what interests you the most:
Millers Landing Nature Walk – Easy Walk / 2 km / 45 minutes each way
Prom Wildlife Walk – Easy Walk / 2.3 km return / 1 hour
Big Drift – Medium Walk (walking on soft sand, quite steep in parts) / 2 km / 45 minutes each way
Mount Oberon Summit Walk – Difficult Walk (uphill with stairs near the summit) / 3.4 km / 1 hour each way
Tidal Overlook Circuit – Medium Walk / 3.8 km / 1.5 hours
Pillar Point Lookout – Medium Walk / 1.8 – 2.8 km depending on starting point
Lilly Pilly Link Track – Easy Walk / 1 km / 20 minute
Lilly Pilly Circut – Medium Walk / 5.8 km / 2-3 hours return
Mount Bishop Summit – Hard Walk / 3.7 km / 45 mins to 1 hour each way
There are also walks that connect all of the bays and beaches, so you can walk along the beautiful coastline if that suits! These are a great way to get your heart rate up whilst cooling off in the ocean at every stop.
For those that like the idea of spending the ENTIRE day walking, there’s a long 19.1 km hike to the Lightstation, which will take about 6 hours each way… It’s not for the faint-hearted.
A lot of people take a day trip to Wilsons Prom just to soak up the incredible beaches and enjoy the sunshine. In the summer months, the beaches are often swarmed with friends and families making sand castles and playing in the waves.
Squeaky Beach is definitely the most popular due to its shiny white squeaky sand, but there’s also Whisky Bay, Picnic Bay, Cotters Beach, Norman Beach and Five Mile Beach too. Each one has a different walking length in order to reach, so choose one that works best for you.
For reference: Squeaky Beach, Whisky Bay and Picnic Bay all have carparks within a few hundred metres from the water, so they’ll obviously be the most popular for day visitors!
Things to bring:
One of the biggest mistakes that I made on my Wilsons Prom day trip, was not bringing enough packed food. I was under the assumption that Tidal River (which is the main camping/accommodation area) had a few selections for things to eat… How wrong I was.
There’s only one tiny takeaway store and a little supermarket, and the queue at both of those was incredibly long. If you’re heading to this National Park during the peak season, I highly suggest packing an esky/cooler in your car and taking your own lunch and snacks. Not only will this save you a lot of time, but it will also save a lot of unnecessary waste too!
Here’s what I would suggest you pack (please keep in mind that that this is based on visiting during the summer):
— Lots of water (Take reusable bottles… We don’t want to fill up the park with trash)
— Walking Shoes
— Sun Protection
— Swimsuit and Towel
— Warm clothing (it can get cool up on the mountain summits)
— Reusable Bags (also perfect for picking up trash too)
So as I mentioned, my partner and I walked 22km during our time at Wilsons Prom, and although my legs were soft and jello-like for a few days after, it was still one of the best days of adventure that I’ve had in a long time.
I started the day with the Millers Landing Walk, which from my memory was about a 1.5 hours walk return. It was a very easy stroll that took us down to a small inlet that was home to a lot of swans and other birdlife. The landing also protects the southernmost stand of mangroves in the world! If you’re lucky you might also see some kangaroos snacking in the shade along the way.
From there we went to Whisky Bay, and Darby River, whilst stopping at lookout points along the way. On our walk back to the car from one of the stops we even saw a kangaroo taking a dip in the water, it was a strange sight to say the least.
We then made our way to Tidal River for some lunch, before getting the shuttle up to Telegraph Saddle to start our Mt. Oberon walk!
It’s essential to note that if you visit Wilsons Promontory National Park during the peak season, you won’t be able to drive up to Telegraph Saddle to start your hike to the Oberon peak. There are limited car parks up there, so if you visit and the road seems to be blocked, you’ll need to head down to Tidal River and get the free shuttle bus up there instead. It comes every 30 minutes and all you have to do is jump on ⏤ no ticket is needed.
Mount Oberon is definitely one of the highlights and the most popular attractions of the park. The summit walk takes about an hour each way and is on a constant incline, but the views from the top are spectacular. You’ll have sweeping views of the coastline, aerial views of Squeaky Beach + Tidal River, and the incredible feeling of being on top of the world.
If you visit during winter, you might even be able to watch the sunset from up there, but make sure you take a flashlight for your walk back down! Unfortunately due to the sun setting so late in summer, we didn’t have that option as the last shuttle was at about 6 pm.
On the walk back down I used my reusable bag to pick up some trash. Not only is this a great way to keep the park clean, but it also takes your mind off of the long walk ahead. I highly recommend – #take3forthesea.
After catching the shuttle back down to Tidal River, we headed straight to Squeaky Beach to cool off. And just as the name suggests, the sand really is squeaky!
It was about 5 pm at this point, so from here we headed to the Prom Wildlife Walk. It takes around an hour to walk around the open plains where you’ll have a very good chance of spotting some of our native furry friends. If you’re lucky you’ll see kangaroos, lizards, wombats, echidnas, and maybe even emus!
This is a great walk within Wilsons Prom, and an amazing one to do with kids too.
The very last walk of the day was to the Big Drift. An extensive series of inland sand dunes! It takes about 45 minutes to get there, and it’s quite easy to get lost. It doesn’t take long for your footprints in the sand to be swept away in the wind, so be sure to take note, mark your track and make sure that you know your way out!
The walk is pretty easy with just a few rolling hills, but the last portion is a climb up a dune in very soft, steep sand. Please make sure that you’re capable of that before you begin! I highly recommend it though, once you arrive it feels like you’re in the middle of a magical desert.
By the time we returned back to the car the sun was starting to set, so we began our 2-hour journey back home. And lucky for us, mother nature put on a wonderful show to bid us on our way… What could be better?
It truly was an incredible day! I’m still kicking myself that it took me so long to get there, especially considering it was just a short day trip away.
If you’re planning a trip to Melbourne or putting it on your bucket list, make sure you add Wilsons Promontory National Park too. The journey from Melbourne CBD is about 3 hours, so it’s quite a long drive… But boy oh boy will it be worth it!