Day 161 – Wilsons Promontory
I woke and saw the grey skies and drizzle outside, so lay in bed for a while enjoying the warmth and comfort. It was then that I realised how many bikes we could hear riding past. There was a fairly constant stream of them, all heading away from Phillip Island. It was a beautiful thing, though shame for them that the weather today wasn’t the best. I’m assuming they will head north through the Victorian Alps and the Snowy Mountains, a trip that we too will do in a week or two in Deli-chan (which won’t quite be as much fun as it would be on a motorbike).
We debated for a little while if it was worth driving down to Wilsons Promontory, the southern most point on the Australian mainland. I was unsure because of the weather, and I didn’t realise that you couldn’t actually access that southern most point without a multi-day hike… just like the southern most point in Tasmania, too. But, we aren’t really doing the whole ‘four points’ tour anyway (we skipped West, and may not visit East on this tour). Also, Risa has been here before, so she wasn’t that fussed to visit again. It was raining/overcast when she visited last time, too. It’s hard for me to picture sunshine in Victoria.
It was about an 80km drive from where we camped, passing through several small towns, including one that had an Aldi (discount European supermarket). We stocked up on fruit (we made sure to eat all of our fruit before leaving Tasmania to avoid having to dispose of it at quarantine, only to not go through quarantine this time – though they did confiscate our opened cans of cooking butane…) and UHT milk and other things, which came to a grand total of $9.60! I think that’s the first time we’ve visited a supermarket and paid less than $10 for some food… It was also novel visiting the Victorian Aldi as they also sell alcohol! We couldn’t believe how cheap some of the stuff was, including random German beers, and super cheap Australian wines (including some of Risa’s favourites – Riesling and Moscato). Two wishes – that they had this in Brisbane, and I could (comfortably) drink alcohol. But enough gushing about a cheap supermarket…
Wilsons Promontory is an enormous national park, and for the most part it has been kept natural. Surprisingly, there was no ‘day use fee’ – this must have changed since our (quite old) Lonely Planet was printed. There is limited vehicle access, so exploration is best done on foot. Not having the fitness/equipment/desire to go on multi-day hikes, we realise that we would only get the smallest of glimpses of this park.
From the entry gates at the start of the park, it was quite a drive to our first point of exploration, Darby River. We followed a short (1.1k) trail to the beach and I was actually surprised at what we found. Sure, I knew that with the clouds it wasn’t going to be vibrant, but the wide sandy beach and the rocky granite headlands were still quite pretty. They advise against swimming here, though today that was far from my mind. At the far end of the beach there was a rather large sand dune/cliff, which we climbed to see the view from the top (even though we probably shouldn’t have…). It was tough going, as it really was more cliff than sand dune, but the view from the top was really worth it. We could really see the tannin stained Darby River flowing out to see, as well as all the other granite headlands further south. It was now that I wished I had a waxed piece of board to slide down on… though the near vertical section at the bottom (and the lack of a transition) would have made for a rather spectacular (and painful) crash.
We kept driving south and visited Squeaky Beach, so called for the sand that squeaks underneath your feet. It was surprising that the sand could be so different from where we just were. There were more granite boulders here (also with that same beautiful red/orange lichen) and on a clear day I’m sure it could be similar to Esperance/Bay of Fires. Again, there were signs here advising against swimming due to strong rips and a steep ocean floor.
I toyed with the idea of hiking to the top of Mt. Oberon (7km return), but in the end decided that it probably wasn’t worth it today. We followed the road to where it ends at Tidal River (and its enormous camping area). The sand here was different again, it was like corn flour – big yellowy-orange puffs of dust coming from Risa’s thongs with every step she took. To our surprise, there was a large surf school doing lessons here (sure, they were wearing full wetsuits, and yes, I know that people still go surfing in Hokkaido while it’s snowing), and some British tourists swimming in the river… I’m still wearing a hoody, this to me means it’s too cold to swim, but maybe we’re just spoiled in Queensland.
There were loads of birds here, which I guess due to the protected nature of this park is to be expected. Risa loves the colourful rosellas and we were amazed at how many we saw today. We also saw wombats, big red kangaroos and loads of other birds. Risa said she saw emus here last time, too…
Made use of the hot showers in the sprawling campground, and made our way back out of the park. If I’m honest, it felt a little like a half-hearted visit. It may have been overcast and cold, but at least the rain stayed away for most of the day.