I spend a lot of time detailing different aspects of travel, predominately about overseas destinations. However, people have pointed out to me that I rarely mention places at home in Australia. With that in mind, I want to tell you about my favourite place in Australia, Wilson’s Promontory National Park, and try to even up the ledger a touch.
Defining something as a ‘favourite’ is fraught with risk. No matter how well you dress it up, someone is guaranteed to disagree with you. It’s not that you are wrong or that they are right but that each person is different and finds different things important in a location. I realise this is stating the bloody obvious but try and look at it as a kind of ‘disclaimer’ of sorts- my attempt to say to you “I don’t think you will agree with what I’ve written, but why would you?”
Wilson’s Prom is the most southern point of mainland Australia and consists of beaches, bush, camp sites and walking trails. It is Victoria’s oldest national park and is both incredibly popular and beautiful. It’s this beauty that attracts large amounts of visitors on a daily basis. Tourists everywhere. During summer the place is packed out; bumper to bumper full of tents and caravans with people more than willing to pay the small fortune it costs to camp on an unpowered site for a couple of weeks.
The Prom is a wilderness area whose mix of coastal location and unique flora and fauna has made it a popular holiday destination. On any given day, a fleet of all-in-one hire vans can be found in the visitor carpark, their owners either getting severely sunburnt on the beach or battling seagulls on the electric barbeques provided by the national park. If you don’t pay attention birds will literally steal the food as you are still cooking it. I saw a seagull eat a kangaroo kebab whole once, stick and all. While hot kangaroo meat skewered on a stick is not part of a seagull’s usual diet, the bird took care of it with ease. Had I not seen it, I would not have believed it. I was disgusted but also impressed.
You are constantly surrounded by wildlife here. Kangaroos, wallabies, emus and possums can all be found throughout the park and with little effort required to find them. Wombats roam the campground and road sides like unfit security guards at a shopping centre, routinely slashing their way through any tent whose owner has left food behind. A lot of these animals are so used to human presence that you can get quite close. The trick is to remember they are still wild and will happily beat the crap out of you if you get too close.
The beaches are fresh. Very fresh. But also spectacular. Often windswept and long, they provide multiple places to splash around. The beauty is that because are so many different beaches to choose from, just about every level of swimming or surfing ability is covered. It’s very rare to find a place that is both safe for children but also has some bigger surf for adults to play in.
The weather often dictates everything here though. One minute you are relaxing at the beach, the next you are tying everything down as Mother Nature attempts to turn everything in your campsite inside out while you are still in it. Strangely the unpredictable weather is part of the attraction for me. While I enjoy swimming in the sun as much as the next person, I also enjoy watching a wild beach, waves smashing on rocks and listening to rain on the tent. The outdoor cinema that runs during summer becomes far more atmospheric with a bit of wind and rain.
Finally, there are plenty of walks to kill time. Just about all are either to points overlooking the ocean or to mountain lookouts. Occasionally they will take you to a secluded beach that feels like it was put there just for you, being able to swim all by yourself, not sharing with anyone. Of course you have to walk back again after your swim but you can’t have it all. They are also plenty of hiking campsites to utilise but I should point out that you need to book a spot at these destinations, such is their popularity.
I’ve been coming here since I was a kid, presumably because it was close to where we lived and no one likes to drive long distances with small children in the car. Travelling with children (I’m guessing) cannot be an easy undertaking. They get distracted easily and become bored as fast as a nudist at a fashion show. While I’m sure that we as kids were perfect angels, there has to be a time limit before children will try to kill each other with whatever weapon is closest.
I like this place for as many nostalgic reasons as I do the practical ones I have already mentioned. The things I enjoyed about the place as a kid are the same as an adult. Being able to sit quietly surrounded by bush, go for a swim, ride your bike or enjoying a quiet drink by the roar of a gas lantern whilst playing a game of cards holds a special place in my heart.
It can be hard to summarise all the reasons you like a place. Sometimes you like a place so much that the pieces of information about it that bore your friends, interest you. I get that from Wilson’s Prom. I visit the place every year, get paid to hike here and have written about it several times. I’ve visited quite a few places over the years, and although a few have come close, none are as enjoyable to me as ‘The Prom’.
Wayward Tip: Visit in the warmer months. The weather is more consistent. Also, be aware that there is only one road in and out and camping is expensive. No place is perfect I suppose.