Wilsons Promontory – a Wombat friendly wilderness
Wilsons Promontory national park was a short drive from Foster to the parks entrance. The main road in is sealed and the side tracks are all good condition gravel, although some highly corrugated all are 2wd accessable. My first stop was at Darby Beach. It was here the trip in was made totally worthwhile when I saw my first wild wombat, happily grazing on grass in the middle of the day. I’ve seen plenty of dead ones on roadsides all throughout NSW and one captive at Dubbo Western Plains Zoo, I was starting to think they were nocturnal animals.. apparently not. This wombat, along with several other animals I later saw came sporting its own earrings, used for identification and tracking.
From the carpark I took the 1.1km Darby Beach track out to the beach. The beach was a mix of sand dunes and sandstone outcrops interspersed with coastal vegetation with the mouth of the Darby river providing a quiet wetlands just behind the fore dunes.
Back on the road a couple kilometres down I see yet another wombat. They are quite tame around the main tourist areas being used to humans stopping for a photo op. The view from the road is awesome, thankfully most of the road has room to pull over for photos.
I stoped in to Picnic Bay, Whisky Bay and Squeaky Beach. All have tracks which lead down to the shore.
It was starting to get late so set up camp at Tidal river campgrounds. These are the most expensive campgrounds to date at $53.30 per night for an unpowered site… needless to say I only stayed one night. The 4 amenity blocks are excellent with hot showers and flushing toilets and beach and river access a short walk. There is also a general store and café on site. Within minutes of arriving I spotted another Wombat. This one extremely friendly. I sat a few metres from it to get some photos and it gradually grazed its way to a metre from me. In a crouching position with my nuts in danger range, having heard stories of wombats charging people and knocking them over I thought it best to move on. It could move faster than I can and didn’t want to test just how tame this wombat was.
I took a walk to Tidal river beach and enjoyed a quiet stroll, admiring colonies of shiny black barnacles.
Back at camp I got some biscuits out for a snack and within seconds a flock of parrots had arrived. Without hesitation they began landing on my head and shoulders and down my arms. 3 or 4 would be on me at once. As I attempted to put a biscuit in my mouth some would climb down my arm onto my hand and try and snatch it from my grasp, while another would sit on my shoulder and attempt to snatch it from my lips as I put it in my mouth.. This got me a little worried as they weren’t shy or fearful at all.. the battle was on.. man against bird. I clutched my biscuits with an iron grip attempting to sneak them in my mouth while shooing off one bird before another would take its place. Eventually I feigned an empty packet and they left.. the clever ones waiting in a nearby tree swooping again when I resumed eating. With the packet empty I was able to attract a couple by rustling the packet and with my camera in hand got a few shots.
At night yet again more locals visited.. I had at least 3 wombats grazing nearby my Defender under the full moon. Once I was tucked up in my sleeping bags I had a very large possum climb my Hi-lift jack like a ladder and jump on my rear wheel, attempting to get access to my rubbish bin on the back. I had to get up and go outside twice to shoo it away and zip my bin up tight. The rangers warned me on arrival not to leave food out or the wombats would tear through tents and eskys to get to it.. they never said anything about the birds or possums!
With sunrise I decided to tackle Mount Oberon. This short 1 hour 3.4km one way hike leads to an almost complete 360 degree view of the surrounding area. The walk is rated moderate/hard, though in reality it’s just steep. The track uses a 4wd track to the top, and to reach the peak a few flights of rough cut stairs in the rock are used. Very easy. The view was wonderful, with the southernmost point of mainland Australia in the distance. Unfortunately to get to the southernmost point is a 32km return overnight hike. This was going to be too much for me to handle, so will have to wait till another time.
On the drive out I spot more wombats and several emus grazing in the open beside the road.
I complete one more hike driving Five Mile road to the carpark, and hiking the 4km return track to Millers Landing. This easy walk took me to the eastern side of Wilsons Promontory to the southernmost stand of mangroves in the world. It was peaceful out here. I took a walk along the coastline, spotting a shy wombat who clearly doesn’t see many humans. There are plenty of feral deer tracks in the sand along with kangaroo.
Leaving the national park I head to the Walkerville caravan park and spent 2 nights there, the place almost deserted. It was well positioned along the coast with plenty of beach access although the beach was pebbly and rocky.
I highly recommend visiting Wilsons Promontory if you ever visit Victoria. The wildlife is incredible along with the unspoilt wilderness and endless panoramic coastal views. Day entry is free. It is a MUST SEE destination!