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Wilson’s Prom is like a closely guarded secret for Melbournians. Officially called Wilsons Promontory National Park, in typical Aussie fashion it is shortened to just “The Prom” by locals. Set three hours east of Melbourne, this National Park is the most southerly point in mainland Australia and offers pristine wilderness. It offers so much for families with its safe swimming tidal river, family friendly hikes, beautiful beaches and Australian wildlife. Let us show you the Wilsons Prom highlights and help you plan your trip there.
When we told friends we were headed there for the weekend most assured us that it was an amazing place, but so many also commented that they had never been, but have always wanted to go. I know we are guilty of not exploring around our home country as much as we should. Whereas when we are tourists in a country, we leave no rock upturned. There is absolutely no excuse for not making the three hour drive to explore this fantastic National Park. In fact, the drive through southern Gippsland is extremely enjoyable as you take in lovely pastureland and rolling hills.
Here is why we think “The Prom” is a must-visit in Victoria and how to plan your trip.
- 1 Wilsons Prom Map
- 2 Wilsons Prom Highlights:
- 3 Where to Stay Wilsons Prom
Wilsons Prom Map
Wilsons Prom Highlights:
1. There is a Beach That Squeaks
This iconic quartz white sand beach really does squeak when you walk or run or jump on it. Adults and kids alike will have a blast making music as they happily prance across the sand. Squeaky Beach should be on every one’s Wilsons Prom itinerary.
Squeaky Beach can be approached from a car park on the main park road, or better yet hike from the Tidal River Campground to the Beach (5 km return). You will cross the lovely tidal river and ascend through the brush until you are rewarded by the spectacular views of Squeaky Beach. Descend through the haphazard boulders, exploring and climbing through the nooks and crannies. When you finally make it down to the Beach, stomp and jump to your heart’s content. Or do like our kids and make snow angels in the pure white sand. The walk is suitable for all levels, including strollers and is one of the best Wilson Promontory walks.
If you are feeling energetic, you can continue your walk to Picnic Bay or Whiskey Bay (6 km roundtrip).
2. The Tidal River is a Natural Playground
The Tidal River is a shallow river with boulder edging and flat sand beach surrounding, making it a fantastic place for kids (and kids at heart) to play. The water is slightly warmer then the ocean and you are often protected from Wilson Prom’s windy conditions. The whole family will have a great time exploring the boulders, beaches, caves that line the river.
3. The View from Mount Oberon is Stunning
Mount Oberon provides a fantastic vantage point to see mainland Australia’s southern-most point and is one of the best Wilson Promontory National Park walks. The walk up (6.8 km return) is not the most scenic since you are on a service road, but the views from the top are out of this world. Take care with kids at the top viewpoint which is merely a rock, without fencing. From the summit you can see the Tidal River, Norman’s Beach and Squeaky Beach.
4. Care to see a Wombat?
Did you know wombats are the size of a small pig? You won’t have to work too hard to see one here and this is definitely a Wilson’s Promontory highlight. Wombats like to come out at dusk and search for food. If you are camping, make sure you don’t leave food in your tent, as they are known to rip right through tents to get what they want. Our first night camping, we heard a noise 5 feet away and sure enough it was a wombat sniffing through our pots and pans. Wilson’s Prom is known as a great place to view these unique Australian animals.
5. Norman’s Beach is no Ugly Step-Sister
Squeaky Beach gets all the attention, but Norman’s Beach at Tidal River is no slouch. The Tidal River empties out to this expansive, flat beach where you can ride bikes, try some surfing or just play in the shallow waters. It is a great place to come down to for the sunsets and to be among family and friends enjoying this pristine park.
6. The Sunsets are Spectacular
The sunsets from Norman’s Beach are pretty stellar, but the atmosphere on the beach at sunset is what I love the most. Families are playing cricket in the sand, surfers are catching the last of the day’s waves and impromptu music singalongs can be heard. We make sure we walk down to the beach to see every sunset while we are at Tidal River.
7. Hike to Little Oberon Bay to Escape the Crowds
The walk to Squeaky Beach is a must, but it is a very popular trail. As an alternative, walk the other way and you will have the trail to yourself. Walk to the south side of Norman’s Beach and from there you will see the trail access point that ascends over the headlands around to Little Oberon Bay. The full hike is about 9 km with beautiful views of the offshore islands including Skull Rock. Once you get to Little Oberon Bay, enjoy a swim with no one else in sight.
Where to Stay Wilsons Prom
1. Camping at Tidal River
Wilsons Prom is one of our favourite National Parks for camping. Tidal River is the main campground in the National Park and there are 484 camping sites. You probably think that sounds massive and therefore easy to book. However, remember that this is one of Victorians favorite places to go and during holiday periods, it is so popular, they book via lottery. Book in advance online and when you arrive you choose what site you would like.
As of July 1, 2019, Sites have now been reduced to $30 for an unpowered site as part of the Victorian government’s 50 percent reduction in camp fees (Previously it cost almost $60 to camp at Wilsons Prom for one night). You can choose a campground near the River or the Beach. Families may want to be near the River, where amenities are closer. The amenities blocks offer hot showers, flush toilets and dish washing stations. Note that most of the sites are unpowered and there are only a very few powered sites. The sites vary greatly in terms of quality and privacy and therefore for more choice, make sure you arrive early on a Friday. There are rubbish bins and we drank the water from the taps. There is a store that stocks basic grocery items and other items you might have forgotten. They even have a takeaway counter and ice cream!
2. Huts and Cabins at Tidal River
The National Park also rents our huts and cabins for those not inclined to camp. This is a great way to still enjoy this natural wilderness and stay in the Park. The huts are simple with 4 bunks, a small kitchenette and porch. You use the camping amenities and bring your own linens. At $118/night, the huts are a very reasonable way to see the Park. The cabins are 2 bedrooms with a modern kitchen, living area and bathroom. At $272/night, you are paying for some extra comfort.
3. Hotels Outside the National Park
The campground and cabins at Tidal River is the only place to stay within the National Park (there is another campground at Stockyard Camp). However, there are lots of great options just outside the Park boundaries.
Promhills Cabins offers great mountain views with full kitchens and bathroom in their cabins. Or you can try glamping in their eco tent – a really unique experience. Check their latest prices here.
Black Cockatoo Cottages offers chalets with kitchens and laundry facilities. Watching the cows and quiet farm landscape is a great way to unwind at the end of the day. Check their latest prices here.
Prom Gate Getaway has great cabins for families that will feel just like home. Located just a short walk from the Park entrance, this is a convenient place to stay with lots of amenities. Check their latest prices here.
4. Day Trip from Melbourne
If you don’t have a lot of time to spare, but still want to see this beautiful area, consider a day trip from Melbourne. You can do a 12 hour day trip where you will see all of the Wilsons Prom highlights. Check their latest prices here.