Wilsons Promontory National Park is one of Australia’s treasures.
See below for a short history of this wonderful area.
About 130 kilometres from Cowes on Phillip Island to Tidal River, the trip takes approximately 2 hours one way. During summer it may take longer because of the increase in road traffic.
From Phillip Island follow the Bass Highway to Inverloch, turn onto the C442 to Fish Creek, then the C444 to Tidal River.
The drive through picturesque dairy country with glimpses of the peaks of “The Prom” in the distance is a delight.
A great place to stop for a break is Fish Creek – relax with a coffee at the Flying Cow Café.
Stop at the entrance gate to the park and pick up one of the free visitor guides. This includes a comprehensive map plus a host of other important information.
Entrance to Wilsons Promontory is free for day visitors but please leave by sunset.
Tidal River is the main centre for visitors with information, toilets, parking, café and general store.
There is no fuel available at Tidal River so much sure you have plenty of fuel when setting out.
Norman Beach at Tidal River is a popular swimming spot. Squeaky Beach and Picnic Bay also have pristine beaches.
Try Darby Beach for surfing.
Soak up the lovely views across to the Glennie Group of islands and Norman Island.
From Tidal River there are a number of short walks – Squeaky Beach and Lilly Pilly Gully suitable for beginners.
The Mt Oberon Summit Walk (3.4km one way) is for more experienced hikers and if you have plenty of time.
Remember to carry water and dress appropriately if you undertake any of the walking tracks.
If you prefer wildlife and birdwatching, The Prom offers great nature opportunities.
On the road to Tidal River you may see wombats, kangaroos, and emus. I have seen wombats grazing contentedly at the picnic areas at Tidal River!
Remember to slow down if wildlife is close to the road.
Wilsons Promontory is not just a delight in summer, it is beautiful in winter with clouds shrouding the peaks and rain dripping from the lush green vegetation and rainforest.
At the extreme end of The Prom there is the historic Wilson’s Promontory Lighthouse – only accessible by walking the Telegraph Track.
Looking over Bass Strait, this is southernmost settlement on the Australian mainland.
However, the walk of about 19km may be a bit long for a day trip.
Consider a longer stay to see more of this wonderful park.
If you prefer a cruise around Wilsons Promontory go to Wilsons Promontory Cruise.
The original inhabitants of Wilsons Promontory were the Brataualung people who lived in the area from Cape Liptrap to the Strezelecki Ranges. Apart from a wealth of wildlife, they fished along the shore and collected shellfish. The forests gave them timber for shelter and implements.
Unfortunately the arrival of Europeans decimated the indigenous people by depriving them of their food supply and also by introduced diseases.
George Bass sighted the promontory in 1798. Later he returned with Matthew Flinders to chart the coast. Flinders named the promontory after a friend in London, Thomas Wilson.
The Prom has been subjected to many different types of activity.
First, it was sealers and whalers in the early 1800’s, who set up stations until they had depleted the seal colonies to the point where they were no longer viable.
In the 1840’s the timber mills came with sawn timber being sent to a growing Melbourne and also to Gippsland where the settlers were arriving. The mill continued until 1906 when it was destroyed by fire and subsequently closed.
The pastoralists arrived in 1862 when the Turnbull brothers started three runs. Others followed but were never successful, due to the poor quality grazing land.
The Victorian gold rush also found its way to Wilsons Promontory in 1866 when a gold mine was opened near Mt Singapore. It was not very productive and soon closed.
The government granted mining leases for tin ore in 1919 but again, yields were low and the mine shut down after only one year.
Campaigns were started to protect the Prom from settlement and in 1898 it was temporarily reserved as a national park.
Eventually Wilsons Promontory was gazetted in 1905 as a national park “for the preservation and protection of native fauna and flora”.
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