Wilsons Promontory is the southern most tip of mainland Australia and is also known as the South-East Cape. Located about 200km south east of Melbourne, it’s a common holiday destination. In fact, it’s so popular, each year there’s a ballot for the many camping spots at Tidal River, the township on The Prom.
There are several walking tracks around The Prom on both the north and south sides. I’ll be walking the south side, merging two 2-day hikes into a 3-day one.
Day 1 – Telegraph Saddle to Little Waterloo Bay
I parked The Pointy Brick in the Overnight Hiker’s car park just outside Tidal River and prepared for the walk. A shuttle bus leaves Tidal River via the car park every 15 minutes, so when I was ready, I waited and was transported up the hill to Oberon car park at Telegraph Saddle.
Originally, I was going to walk across The Prom to Sealer’s Cove and around the bay working my way to Little Waterloo Bay, but since the floods of May 2011 – 19 months ago – the track has been closed. I discovered this during the week before and planned accordingly although this meant my first day was shorter and easier.
I headed down the centre of the southern end of The Prom via a gravel road. The road continues all the way to the Lighthouse, which is tomorrow’s lunch destination. I walked along the road gently downhill for about 6km through the mountains.
The mountains here are different to those of Tasmania, they’re mainly tree covered and those that aren’t are large smooth boulder covered mounds. In fact, one of the mountains is called Boulder Mountain.
The turn off to Waterloo Bay is a sandy track that meanders gently through a gap in the mountains and past a tree covered rocky outcrop called The Mussolini Rocks, but I don’t see the likeness.
Eventually the track arrived at Waterloo Bay – a beach of pristine white sands and azure blue water.
Little Waterloo Bay is a kilometre away on the other side of a jutting rocky outcrop. When I arrived, I discovered many people were already here. I found a spot, set up my tent and went to the beach where I sat reading on a set of boulders.
Day 2 – Little Waterloo Bay to Roaring Meg
Many people had departed before me this morning, most heading around the coast towards Sealer’s Cove (the cove isn’t closed, only the trail to it from Telegraph Saddle).
I walked back to the junction and then along the beach for a kilometre. Sand is perhaps one of the hardest surfaces to walk on and it’s slow going. At the end of the beach the trail headed up the mountain on a sandy path. The constant climbing was a change from none at all yesterday. There were a couple of good vantage points as I walked.
At the top of the mountain the trail flattened out giving some good views out to the south and the small rocky islands in the distance.
I rested on a large smooth boulder before heading off again, with my aim to be at the lighthouse by lunchtime. The trail began slowly downhill before climbing again around the sides of two other mountains. It cut through the forest and along a steep cliff line before arriving at the junction to the lighthouse.
I hid my pack and with day pack I made my way downhill towards a set of Remarkable Rocks similar to those I’d seen on Kangaroo Island.
To get to the lighthouse, there’s a very steep concrete road which was used to transport supplies from the beach below. You can book to stay at the lighthouse, but I hadn’t so was just visiting. While I was there, I ran into the ranger who offered me a jug of ice water! Real treated water and ice, it’s almost like having a pub on the trail, just without beer.
After lunch, I returned to my pack and continued on. For the first hour, I climbed around the mountains at the southern edge of The Prom working my way up to the plateau. After a couple of flat kilometres, there was a series of steep ups and downs before finally crossing a stream via a wooden bridge and into Roaring Meg, a two level camping area.
I set up my tent at the bottom near the stream before being invited for a mug of tea with a couple of older gents who were already camping.
Day 3 – Roaring Meg to Tidal River
Today was forecast to be a hot one, so I was glad my route took me via Oberon Bay beach. The trail headed me briefly uphill before it met the road and then wound its way back to the junction I’d left to get to Waterloo Bay.
On the way down from the mountains, I came across a foot long grass snake in the middle of the road. I stopped for a brief chat as it slithered across.
The heat was already in the air as I arrived at Halfway Hut and decided to stop for morning tea. I was sitting on a log at the side of an empty campsite when I looked up to see a metre long Tiger Snake slithering not a metre away. I, of course, followed it but it went into the brush before I could get a photo. Snakes aren’t scary and they generally only bite as a defensive measure, usually when you stand on them. There’s a trick to snakes, don’t stand on them.
Twenty minutes later I came to the turn off and headed west towards Oberon Bay. The road turned to sand and became hard going. Thankfully there were plentiful tree covered areas for me to stop in the 5km to the beach as it was starting to become very hot.
At the end of the trail was the beach, not as picturesque as Waterloo Bay, but it was water. I walked 500m to the end before stripping off and getting in. The water was beautiful but by the time I got back to my clothes and dressed I was sweating again. I ate a quick lunch before setting off on the final 7km around the bays to town.
By now, the heat was draining as I reached Little Oberon Bay and crossed it. On the far end, there’s a dune to climb to get back to the trail. The effort took it from me and I had to rest at the end, almost throwing up from the over exertion in the heat. It was only 4km to go and I discovered my water was hot. I sat in some shade at the top of the dune for about 30 minutes trying to dry off and recover. When I was ready, I headed on again. There was more climbing to be done before the end and I dragged myself 500m at a time before having to stop for a rest and cool off.
I came around the point and could see Norman Beach in front of Tidal River which gave me hope, so I staggered on. I stopped once before the beach, once at the beach and once on the way to the car park. I was relieved when I finally got to the Pointy Brick. After changing, I headed to Tidal River for a cold drink, and ice block and then a swim in the sea.
It turned out to be 44 degrees that day. I decided to take a few days off before my next hike – Mt Bogong and Big River in the Central Victorian Highlands.
The Lone Trail Wanderer.