I love Melbourne, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes there is no better feeling than jumping in the car with a loved one and watching the city skyline disappear beyond the horizon. Maybe it’s my coastal roots having grown up on the NSW beaches, but after 11 months of living in the city I could not go another day without feeling the salty air on my face and the cold ocean water on my feet. Not to mention Melbourne temperatures have begun to regularly climb higher and higher into the 30’s.

Aerial view of WIlson's Promontory
Source: Wikipedia

So early last Thursday I grabbed my tent, swimmers, snorkel, sleeping bag, and food for the bbq (we grabbed the beers en route) and headed southwest for the suitably famous Wilson’s Promontory National Park.

Encompassing the most southern tip of mainland Australia, Wilson’s Promontory is one of Australia’s most famous and best-loved national parks. Only 3 hours drive from Melbourne, it is the perfect place to escape to for a quick weekend away from the city or even for a longer stay.

For those of you family-inclined (unlike myself), the camping ground at Tidal River offers camping spots, powered sites and even cabins for those that like a little more comfort and a bit of a thicker wall between you and the noises that occur after dark.

Tidal River, Victoria
Source: Australiscapes Panoramic Photography

Tidal River is a great place to start for anyone who, like me, neglected to do the appropriate amount of research before leaving home. The campsite is also host to a great information centre with maps, advice, weather information and all the updates you’ll need for the plethora of walking tracks spanning the peninsula. The lovely staff also courteously informed us where the best areas would be to set up our tent in order to avoid the school groups and schoolies that would also be sharing the area for the night and gave us a heads up on the friendly wombats that prowl the campsite around dusk.

Driving in to Wilson’s Promontory National Park feels like a whole different world after leaving the city and rolling hills of the countryside. Tall mountains with rocky facades shoot up from tree-covered plains and huge sand dunes appear seemingly out of nowhere. The road that skirts the ocean offers stunning ocean views of turquoise water and white beaches.

Wilsons Promontory SunriseWhile many head to Wilson’s Prom (as it is popularly known as) to get to that most southern point, the majority (myself included) are disappointed to find out that to get to the spot involves an overnight hike or a really really long day of walking. The only campsite accessible by car is Tidal River, though there are many others throughout the park for those with the right motivations, skills and equipment to survive without a clean drinking water source or toilets overnight.

If you, like me, have not quite yet built up your hiking skills and camping equipment stocks to be able to achieve such a feat, there are a heap of great walking tracks accessible from Tidal River that can take as little as 50 minutes yet still offer great views and wildlife spotting. I personally headed south towards Oberon Bay – a track with stunning ocean views and a rewarding swim at the other end.

Two pieces of advice: apply, reapply, and re-re-apply sunscreen, you don’t want to look like a lobster for the next week (I know from experience), and take more than enough water, it gets hot out there.

Read more from Walking at Wilsons Promontory, published by Parks Victoria.

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