There’s something magical about sleeping in a tent, in the rough with no electricity, far away from the city. Wombats roam in and out of your camping space freely in search of food, unconcerned about your presence. Wallabies, Foxes, possums and other fantastic creatures surface at night to scavenge for food around rubbish bins. The Milky Way above is as clear as it gets from where you are sipping red wine around candlelight with friends at your campsite.
Camping in Australia – even in winter
April’s weather can be a little bit touch and go. We got lucky with our weekend and the temperature was just enough to run around in shorts and a t-shirt. The nights did get a little chilly but if you’ve got the right gear, it won’t bother you too much. You’re normally in your cosy sleeping bags not long after it gets dark anyway – after you’ve gone wombat hunting!
There’s a decent stretch of beach which was beautiful to lie on and watch the holidaymakers frolic. Those who wore wetsuits could enjoy the waves on surfboards while those who didn’t just braved the coldness. What’s wonderful about this place is that the creek around the corner is sheltered from the wind and warm enough for the kiddies to play in. The creek water is still, allowing us to try out the inflatable stand-up paddle board which we borrowed to take down there. That was a lot of fun for everyone!
Beaches, Wildlife & Hiking at Wilsons Promontory National Park
Wilsons Promontory National Park (Wilsons Prom) is the perfect place to wind down and to spend quality time with the family and friends. The not-so-active can just lounge around on the beach all day while those who need to stretch their legs a bit more can take a nice hike to neighbouring beaches. It’s been a while since we set off with our heavy backpacks for the 40-odd kilometre hikes around Wilson’s Prom where we would hike into one of the beautiful beach campsites (which are only accessible by foot, boat or helicopter) half way, stay overnight and then hike out. There are different beaches to visit along the hiking trail so you can stay quite a few days. There’s even a lighthouse where you can camp inside for the night. One time, we managed to hike 40-odd kilometres in one day and boy, did our bodies ache after that one!
Our little man was so keen on hiking that he actually pushed us into doing a bit more than we wanted. It was a good thing and Little Oberon Beach was worth the hour of discomfort which our out-of-action legs felt. The sand there was clean and the water was clear. Pity it wasn’t warm enough to dive into. Nonetheless, we enjoyed sitting on the beach and exploring the sand hills until we felt it was time to hike back.
The little one loved his hike so much that he dragged Papa off on another hike the following day. This time it was in the other direction to Squeaky Beach. Happily lazing on Norman Beach (main beach at Wilson’s Prom) I waved goodbye to them before crawling into our beach tent for a snooze. Half an hour later and feeling re-energised, I set off after them. It was about time that I started running again after a three month break and the fact that some buttons were popping open on some of my clothes due to over-indulgence! The walk to Squeaky Beach takes about 50mins (6kms from Norman’s Beach) It took me thirty minutes to slowly run there.
The great outdoors and some of the best beaches in the world
Squeaky Beach is just divine! As you would have guessed from it’s name, the sand there is so clean that it squeaks as you plough your feet through it. The water is so beautiful and clear but unfortunately to rough to swim in. The little ones will enjoy climbing over the large boulders and playing in the little rock pools. For those who would rather not break a sweat to get to this tranquil part of Victoria, you can drive to Squeaky Beach. From the carpark, it’s approximately a five minute stroll.
Outdoors and adventure
Camping is a great way to spend quality time with the kids. It’s not for everyone. If you do decide to try it out, make sure you do some research to be well equipped for the time spent in a tent. It it’s your first time, go to campsites which have facilities such as toilets, showers and a place to buy food if you run out. Campsites where you have to hike into require very lightweight equipment as you will have loads to carry, especially the water which you will need for your trip. For those who want to go half-way with the camping, you can look at renting a cabin. It’s a lot more expensive than taking your tents down there but you’ll still be able to enjoy the nature while being sheltered from bad weather.
“Must do” at Wilsons Promontory National Park?
1. Rest at Tidal River – some beach fun with the kids!
Tidal River is the main centre of Wilsons Prom and it has the biggest campground in the prom. Easy accessible by car it’s used by a lot of families from Melbourne for their holidays. Try to avoid the school holiday times (esp. Christmas/New Year). You can pre book your campsite (up to one year in advance) and will need even some luck to win a ballot at peak times. The creek is ideal for the kids – shallow water and lots of space for sand castles.
And for the adults the river is wonderful for fishing or for Stand Up Paddle boarding. You can easily get lost on Norman Beach – how about a beach walk
2. Go Wombat “Hunting”
I can pretty much guarantee that you will see some wild wombats. They come out after the sun sets and roam around the campsites. Don’t forget your torch – a wonderful adventure for the kids and even adults.
3. Go hiking – Squeaky Beach
From Tidal River you have 3 “Must Do” hikes … when you have only time for one make sure you go to Squeaky Beach – the sand is so pristine that it squeaks when you walk on it. It’s up there with Wineglass Bay and Whitehaven Beach. The other two great hikes you have to try are to Little Oberon Bay and Mount Oberon. Take a little picnic and enjoy these little walks.
4. More hiking – the most beautiful 3 day hike in the world!
Yes … again hiking. You will not be disappointed. The spectecular 3 day hike from Tidal River via The Lighthouse – Little Waterloo Bay, Sealers Cove and Refugee Cove is one of the best hikes in Australia … maybe even the world. You will need to carry everything (sometimes even water) – so be prepared. Most tourists just stay a day or two … do yourself a favour and just go on this 3 day adventure! Some crazy people walk this tour in 1 day (it’s around 42km). I did this once and even if it was fun I wouldn’t recommend it …
5. Bring a Stand Up Paddle or surfboard
It’s great fun … surfing the waves or just paddling down the river. Unfortunately you need to bring your own board – there is no possibility to rent a board.
6. Kangaroo spotting
While driving with the car towards the park exit you will see large fields of grass – at sunset it’s a great idea to stop the car and spot the kangaroos and wallabies in the grass … believe me they are there … you just need to keep your eyes open. Of course you can spot far more Australian animals in their native habitats.
7. Share a campsite – bring friends
The campsites in tidal river are no longer cheap – camp sites are for 8 people (and you pay the same for 2 people or 8 people … so make sure you share the costs!). The overnight hike camps are charged per person
8. Stay at the lightstation
Have a bigger budget? Want to invest in some special experience. Book a night at the lightstation in Banks Cottage (you will need to hike there or rent a helicopter). An alternative for a special stay are the wilderness retreat tents or cabins (in case you don’t have your own tent) – a little bit of luxury in the wild.