Explore the natural sanctuary of Wilsons Promontory on its many well-marked walking trails.
By Ellie Schneider
Affectionately known as "the Prom", Wilsons Promontory encompasses 505 square kilometres (195 square miles) of coastal wilderness on the southernmost tip of mainland Australia. The reserve is threaded with many walking trails, which wind their way through uncrowded beaches, eucalypt forests, cool rainforest gullies and rocky mountaintops. Choose from short, scenic trails to day treks or the multi-day Wilsons Promontory Southern Circuit. Visitors can camp, caravan or stay in cabins and lodges at Tidal River, a three-hour drive south-east of Melbourne.
The 60-kilometre (37-mile) Southern Circuit begins at Telegraph Saddle car park, where the trail meanders through dense forest to the idyllic Sealers Cove. The path then curves over the headland to reach tranquil Refuge Cove, where you may choose to set up camp for the night. Heading further south, hike to the top of Kersop Peak for breathtaking views across the wild coastline. The trail then continues on to Little Waterloo Bay. At the end of the beach the path climbs to the edges of high cliffs before connecting with the Lighthouse Track. Follow the path across undulating woodland to the 1859-built lighthouse, where you can stay overnight in one of three lighthouse cottages and wake to invigorating views across the coast. Back at the junction, the trail travels inland to a beautiful fern-lined creek, before meeting the Telegraph Track. The trail leads to beautiful Oberon Bay, where you can take a dip, then traverses across the beach, passing Little Oberon Bay and Norman Bay. As you walk back into Tidal River, check out the large boulders on the water's edge, which were shaped over thousands of years and change colour with the light. This is a multi-day hike, so booking camps in advance is recommended.
Winding along the Tidal River banks to Squeaky Beach, this easy 30-minute walk is perfect for people with limited mobility. Start at Tidal River's information centre and tread the boardwalks through swamp paperbark forest and over delicate wetlands to the river. Walk over the footbridge, where you can fish or watch for birds. Do a short detour to Pillar Point, where the lookout offers awe-inspiring views over Norman Bay and the islands. Back on the Tidal River footbridge, follow the Squeaky Beach Track (50 minutes), climbing over the headland that separates Norman and Leonard bays, before descending onto Squeaky Beach. Stroll along white quartz sand that squeaks beneath your feet.
Watch the vegetation change on this steady two-hour return climb to Mount Oberon's summit. Start at the Telegraph Saddle car park and follow the short series of steps to the rocky outcrops on the mountaintop. At the summit you'll be rewarded with panoramic views over Tidal River, the coast and offshore islands. Be sure to pack warm clothing as the summit can be cool and windy even during summer (December to February).
Discover the Prom's diverse vegetation and colourful cast of wildlife on this six-kilometre (3.7-mile) loop, which takes two to three hours to complete. Start at the Lilly Pilly car park and follow the footbridge over Tidal River, taking in gorgeous views of the river and Norman Beach. The track links up with the Lilly Pilly Gully Nature Walk, traversing eucalypt forests, coastal heathland and temperate rainforest. Watch kangaroos, wallabies and emus graze in the clearings and wombats scuttle across the path. At the pretty halfway picnic point, crimson rosellas and seagulls will be more than happy to polish off your leftovers. Watch out for colourful spring flower displays (September to November) along the coastal heaths. Take the high route back to the carpark through tall stringybark forest.
Start this three-hour return walk from the information centre at Tidal River. Climb over sand dunes sprouting tea trees to the southern end of Norman Beach, a great spot for swimming, beginner surfing, windsurfing and boating. From here it's an easy climb around the side of Norman Point to Little Oberon Bay for views out to the Anser and Glennie Island groups in Bass Strait. Look out for the craggy form of Cleft Island, also known as Skull Rock.
This three-hour return track to Vereker Outlook winds through banksia woodland, stringybark forest and colourful heathlands, and offers postcard views of Darby Saddle, Corner Inlet, Shellback Island and Cotters Beach. You'll share the trail with local wildlife such as emus, wallabies and kangaroos. On your return, follow the Millers Landing Link Track to meet the Millers Landing Nature Walk. Hug the shores of Corner Inlet, where you'll see the world’s southernmost stand of mangrove trees and a rich variety of waterbirds.
Start at Darby Saddle and follow this picturesque five-hour return walk through stringybark and casuarina forest. It's a good way to ease into the next section, where you'll climb a side track up to Sparkes Lookout. Pause here to take in magnificent views up and down the coast. Or walk a little further to Lookout Rocks, where views take in the offshore islands and Tongue Point far below. From here the path descends steeply, joining the track from Darby River, and continues to Tongue Point, the very tip of the windswept peninsula, where waves batter the bright orange rocks below. Just before the Darby River track junction, a short side track leads down to the tiny, secluded beach of Fairy Cove. Soak up the scenery before the uphill walk back. The views are spectacular in the late afternoon light.