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Wilsons Promontory National Park
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrThe peninsula that makes up Wilsons Promontory is the southernmost point of mainland Australia. It is situated in the state of Victoria, in the South Gippsland region. Most of the peninsula’s area is protected by Wilsons Promontory National Park. The national park covers an area of 50,000 hectares, while the seas around the park’s southern end are protected by the Wilsons Promontory Marine Park. Wilsons Promontory is also affectionately known as ‘The Prom’ and is one of Victoria’s most popular parks.
The area consists of secluded sandy beaches, mountains and mudflats. The stunning coastal landscapes are made up of granite cliffs, wetlands and sand dunes. The peninsula is surrounded by a series of small islands, home to colonies of seabirds and also a protected area, appropriately called the Wilsons Promontory Islands Important Bird Area. Wilsons Promontory National Park is home to many other animal and plant species as well. There are numerous marsupials, such as wombats, kangaroos, wallabies, emus, koalas, potoroos and dunnarts.
There is one main river in the national park. Tidal River ends in Norman Bay and grows when the tides rises. The town of Tidal River, located 19 miles south of the park’s border, is the area main center of commerce and accommodation. It has a campground, visitor center and general store. There is no fuel station in Tidal River though. While there is in fact an entrance booth in Wilsons Promontory National Park, entrance is free.
HistoryThe area has been inhabited by Aboriginal people for more than 6,500 years. The peninsula is of huge importance to both the Gunai and Boonwurrung peoples. Once there used to be a land bridge that connected The Prom to Tasmania and allowed people to walk there.
The first European to discover the peninsula was George Bass. He saw it in early 1798 and wrote about it in his diary, calling it Furneaux’s Land. He spoke about his discovery with Matthew Flinders and both men proposed a different name: Wilsons Promontory, after Flinders’ friend Thomas Wilson.
The area has been a designated national park since 1898. It is the largest area of coastal wilderness in the state of Victoria. Since 2005, several bush fires have destroyed parts of the national park. Particularly the fire of 2009, started by a lightning strike, caused massive devastation in the area. 25,000 hectares were burned, but luckily the town of Tidal River and its facilities remained unharmed. Despite the huge loss of vegetation, the area’s natural beauty is still there and by now most of the park’s surface is again covered in green bushes and trees. However, all throughout the park visitors can still see thousands of burned tree trunks.
Things To DoThe most popular activity in Wilsons Promontory National Park is hiking. The network of hiking trails is more than 62 miles long and provides excellent opportunities to explore the area. Visitors can go on short day hikes, but overnight hikes are also an option. The number of options is vast: the lengths of bushwalks range from an hour to three days and everything in between.
Overnighters can stay in wilderness retreats, huts or cabins, or pitch a tent at basic campgrounds in the national park. The southern area of the national park has six campgrounds, all equipped with toilets and a seasonal supply of water. In the northern area there are five campgrounds, but because it is an official wilderness area, there are no toilets. The heart of the national park has no campgrounds. A permit is required for overnight hikers, which can be obtained at the visitor center in Tidal River. The visitor center also has great hiking maps. In Tidal River accommodation consists of a campground and lodges.
A popular hiking destination is the Wilsons Promontory Lightstation, located on a narrow peninsula and overlooking the rough waters of Bass Strait. Other suggested hikes are to the summit of Mount Oberon, which offers spectacular views, and to Telegraph Saddle and South Point.
Fishing is only allowed in certain areas. Make sure to inform at the visitors center and pick up a fishing permit. The Wilsons Promontory Marine Park offers excellent diving opportunities and snorkeling. The water is clear and sea life is abundant, making it is one of the nicest scuba diving areas in Victoria.
Getting ThereWilsons Promontory is located only about 137 miles from Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city. It can be reached by car along the South Gippsland Highway. Turn off the highway at either Foster or Meeniyan. The park entrance is located 19 miles from Foster. The town of Tidal River, the center of tourism and commerce in the national park, lies another 19 miles south of the park’s boundary. Be aware that there is no fuel in the national park.
A bus service to Tidal River is also available, but requires some planning. You can either take an organized trip from Melbourne or catch a bus from Foster at the Foster Backpackers Hostel.
Be very careful if you are driving around at dusk or dawn. The wildlife is abundant and you will see some on the road.
Similar LandmarksWilsons Promontory National Parks is one of literally hundreds of national parks scattered across Australia. A few other national parks in Victoria are the Grampians National Park, Port Campbell National Park and Alpine National Park. Elsewhere in Australia lie the magnificent Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Kakadu National Park.
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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: May 01, 2015