Wilsons Promontory National Park that is! The locals call it the Prom!
After a tearful goodbye (the tearful refers to me!) to Tucker and Alison at the Melbourne Airport on Saturday morning, Jim and I drove to Wilsons Promontory National Park for a 3-day backpacking trip. This national park is a 3 hour drive to the east and south of Melbourne and is the southern-most tip of the Australian mainland.
Our first stop was the Prom Visitor’s Center where we had to pick up our overnight camping permit, which Jim had booked on-line. When we arrived at the Visitor’s Center we saw a sign indicating that a trail that has been closed for 2 years, had just re-opened the day before! So the ranger let us modify our camping plans and we were going to be in the first wave of hikers to traverse this track (Aussie lingo for trail). Apparently in March of 2011 a huge storm blew through the area and dumped 343mm (approx. 14 inches) of rain in a 24 hour period which in turn, caused huge rock slides, which in turn, wiped out huge sections of the track to Sealer’s Cove.
So now instead of doing an out-and-back trip, we had a loop trip, much preferable. We started hiking the new track to Sealer’s Cove at 2 PM, having to cover 10k to get to the camping area. During the first 3-4k’s it was quite evident where the trail had been washed away and rebuilt. There were some informational plaques along the way detailing the work that had to happen to make the trail hike-able once again, and it was quite an engineering feat. Boulders the size of houses had to be moved, and the new trail had to be built up and stabilized on the side of the mountain. There were huge swathes where tumbling boulders had taken out all the trees in their path. With each step we were in awe of the power of Mother Nature and the determination of a work crew to bring this trail back to life. The final 2k were on a boardwalk through the rainforest floor to the secluded beach of Sealer’s Cove. We had to hike the length of the beach and ford Sealer’s Creek to get to our campground for the night. Because this is a long weekend, we are celebrating the Queen’s birthday, there were lots of people out hiking and we got one of the last camp sites.
Our second day of hiking took us to Refuge Cove, an unnamed beach and onto Little Waterloo Beach where we camped for the night. The hike was mostly along the cliffs above the ocean, except when there was a beach, then the trail dipped down so we could be by the water. Refuge Cove earned its name very early on in Aussie history, as a safe harbor in its sheltered bay for sea-faring vessels. Yesterday it was full of sailboats, anchored for the weekend. Many of those sailors were on shore and we talked to some of them because they were curious about our hike. They were all headed out for a day-hike to Sealer’s Cove and were curious about the trail. We hiked on with a side trip to Kersop’s Peak to get a great view of where we had been and where we were headed!
We were the first campers to arrive at Little Waterloo Campground and we picked the best site! We set up camp and walked to Waterloo Beach and back and then hung out on Little Waterloo Beach for a while. Now I have to tell you the problem with hiking in the almost winter months down here~it gets dark (and cold) really early. So we were eating dinner at 5 PM, so we could be all cleaned up before it was pitch dark. Campfires are prohibited in this national park so that time-honored tradition of sitting around a campfire until bedtime was not to be. Plus it was getting cold, 37 degrees of cold and damp weather. Hence, we would climb into the tent before 7 PM and try to sleep for 12 hours!!
Today we were up before 7 AM, walked to the beach to enjoy another sunrise and then chowed down our granola bars and set off for our last day of hiking at 8 AM. And, once again, we went through some beautiful scenery. From Waterloo Beach we turned inland to follow the gentle uphill track back to our car. The sun was out and the daytime temps again were perfect for hiking. We covered our 13K in about 2.5 hours and felt very pleased with our 3 days of hiking.
I am usually the driver when we are out and about, but Jim decided he needed to keep his left-side driving skills sharp so he drove home. We got back to the apartment about 2:30 and are now cleaned up from the hike.
It was a great weekend and we would highly recommend Wilsons Promontory to any Aussie visitors who like to hike.
Tomorrow I plan to return to yoga class and then I need to direct my attention to the many chores I easily gave up doing while Tucker and Alison were here.
If you are not sick of looking at some photos here are a few more from this weekend: