Image courtesy of Tony Fernandez, on flickr

Jutting into Bass Strait, 225 kilometres south-east of Melbourne, lies Australia’s most spectacular (and Victoria’s largest) patch of coastal wilderness, Wilsons Promontory National Park.

The Prom’s coastline is a feast for the senses – 130 kilometres of breathtaking views, clear turquoise waters, horseshoe bays, hidden coves, granite headlands, and white sandy beaches. The interior is just as impressive, where coastal heath, giant sand dunes, grey granite ranges, and lush rainforests thick with tree ferns and littered with moss-covered logs is crisscrossed with trails to suit every type of hiker.

Even better, it’s home to more wildlife than you can poke a stick at (disclaimer: I do not condone poking sticks at any wildlife, ever). Spend a few days exploring here and you’ll see as much wildlife as you’d see at any wildlife sanctuary. It’s paradise.

If you hadn’t already gathered, the absolute best way to explore Wilsons Promontory is on foot so read on for all the info you could ever need about Wilsons Prom walks (and about planning your trip).

This post includes contributions from other travel bloggers from around the web (see the bottom of each hike description for their details). A huge thanks goes out to all of them for sharing their Wilsons Prom walking experiences.

Big Drift

Big Drift - Wilsons Promontory National Park - Victoria - Australia

Image courtesy of Kati Craythorn from Queensland & Beyond

The northern hiking trails at Wilsons Prom are nowhere near as popular as those around the southern end and Tidal River. But don’t miss them as there are some real gems to be found here. I love this area for its much more isolated feel.

Since much of the northern part of the Prom is classed as a ‘wilderness zone’, the walks here are not as established as around Tidal River and there are fewer facilities, including toilets. Big Drift makes for the perfect accessible taste of the northern end of The Prom.

One of these is the walk to Big Drift where you’ll find a series of huge inland sand dunes. On clear days, you might even get fantastic views south but I’ve found the dunes incredible enough in themselves. You can climb down and roam around Big Drift but it’s easy to get lost so mark your entrance point and track so you can find your way out again.

The walking track to Big Drift starts just after the entrance to the national park at the Stockyard Campsite (follow the signs from Wilsons Promontory Road). There are toilets at the car park if you need one last trip before setting off.

The hike itself is fairly straightforward, though much of it is on sandy ground. The trail is somewhat uphill, making the return a bit less of an effort. That said, if you actually want to explore Big Drift, the biggest hike will be climbing out of the sand dunes and up onto the escarpment again.

The path is partly shady but once you get close to Big Drift you’re completely exposed. I wouldn’t recommend exploring the sand dunes on hot or windy days as the sun will be scorching hot with not much shade in sight, and the wind will easily erase any footprints you may have left. Sunny winter days are perfect for hiking to Big Drift.

 

This walk was submitted by Kati Craythorn from Queensland & Beyond. Follow her adventures via her blog or Instagram channel.

Need to know

Length: 2 km
Time: 40 min (add extra time to explore the dunes)
Grade: Moderate / Grade 4 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style: Return
Access: Once inside the Wilsons Promontory National Park gates, keep an eye out on your right for Stockyard Campsite. The walk starts from here.
Path Taken: Stockyard Campsite carpark – follow the signs to the northern
part of Big Drift – retrace steps to Stockyard Campsite carpark (if you choose to climb down into the sand dunes to explore, you’re on your own – there are no markers so make sure you mark your track accordingly).

Tidal River to Pillar Point

Pillar Point - Wilsons Promontory National Park - Victoria - Australia

If you’ve just set up camp at Tidal River and you’ve got a couple of hours of daylight to spare, the hike to Pillar Point (returning via the same path) is the perfect way to spend it. For those unfamiliar with The Prom, it makes for the perfect intro to the area’s coastal beauty with views that will inspire you to see as much as possible during your stay. Being so close to Tidal River, it can be busy during peak times but if you’re lucky enough to get the place to yourself for a while, Pillar Point makes the perfect place to sit and watch while the setting sun paints the sky.

Need to know

Length: 4 km
Time: 1 hr 30 mins
Grade: Easy / Grade 3 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style Return.
Region: South Eastern Victoria
Park: Wilsons Promontory National Park
Path Taken: Tidal River Footbridge – follow signs to Pillar Point – Pillar Point – return via same route.
Access: The walk begins at Tidal River Footbridge, on the north side of the Tidal River Campground.

Lilly Pilly Gully Circuit

Lilly Pilly Gully Circuit - Wilsons Promontory National Park - Victoria - Australia

Explore the interior of Wilsons Promontory on the picturesque 5.8-kilometre Lilly Pilly Gully Circuit. There are few coastal views and no beach walks here – instead, you’ll experience the stringybark forests on the hillside of Mount Bishop and then descend into a lush rainforest gully, before emerging into an open forest thick with stunning grass trees. It’s an easy walk with well signed and easy to follow tracks.

Need to know

Length: 5.8 km
Time: 2 hrs
Grade: Easy / Grade 3 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style: Circuit
Access: After entering the gates to Wilsons Promontory National Park, keep an eye out for a sign on the left to the Lilly Pilly Gully Carpark. The walk begins from here.
Path Taken: Lilly Pilly Gully Carpark – Lilly Pilly Gully Circuit Track – Lilly Pilly Gully Carpark.

Mount Oberon Summit

Mount Oberon Summit - Wilsons Promontory National Park - Victoria - Australia

Image courtesy of J. Philipp Krone, on Flickr

Although it’s a steady climb, the hike to Mount Oberon Summit is relatively easy. The bulk of it is made up of a compacted gravel management vehicle track that zig-zags its way nearly to the top. Some may be turned off by the style of the track but it’s nicer than you’d think, surrounded by dense forest and with occasional views through the trees. Keep an eye out for wallabies hopping around in the undergrowth.

At the end of this track, things start to get even more interesting as you climb narrow staircases, some carved into the rock and some constructed from steel and wood, the rest of the way to the summit. When you climb up onto the massive granite boulder to the summit, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views across the whole of the Prom and its offshore islands.

If the weather is less than ideal you may find that the summit is clouded in (as it was on my visit). The summit is visible from Tidal River so you may even be able to tell before you set off. We decided to go ahead with the climb anyway and we found sitting at the summit in the wind and clouds to be an experience in itself. Just beware of sheer cliffs around the summit.

This is a popular spot for sunrise and sunset, and for good reason. You may want to consider planning your hike around that.

Need to know

Length: 6.5 km
Time: 2 hrs
Grade: Easy-Moderate / Grade 3 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style: Return
Access: Once inside the park gates, drive almost all the way to the camp grounds at Tidal River. Soon after a bridge crossing the river, the road splits and goes either right to the campground or straight/left to Telegraph Saddle Carpark. Head left and park at Telegraph Saddle, where the walk begins.
Path Taken: Telegraph Saddle – Mount Oberon Summit Track – Telegraph Saddle.

Fairy Cove and Tongue Point (via Darby River)

Fairy Cove Hike - Wilsons Promontory National Park - Victoria - Australia

Image courtesy of Rachel from Adventure and Sunshine

The hike to Tongue Point and the secluded Fairy Cove offers the chance to explore the spectacular coastline of Wilson’s Promontory without the crowds. The trail is of moderate difficulty but is still achievable with children and is easily completed within the recommended 3-4-hour timeframe.

The walk commences at the Darby River Car Park. This is a great place to spot wildlife in the early morning and late afternoon – particularly wombats and kangaroos. There are pit toilets available at the car park but no drinking water.

There are two separate trails that depart from the carpark. Ensure you take the one signposted for Tongue Point. The first section of the trail is a steep climb on a sandy path up to 100 metres in elevation. It certainly gets the heart going. Don’t forget to stop and look up to take in the pretty views across the winding Darby River.

The trail then flattens out as you reach the coastline and follows the headland for about 1.5 kilometres. The path offers spectacular views up the coast, down to Fairy Cove and across to Tongue Point.

The trail winds down to the junction for Darby Saddle and Fairy Cove. When we visited, the landscape in this section was awash with yellow flowers.

The final 1.5 kilometres of the walk to Tongue Point offer gorgeous views along the coastline in both directions. Tongue Point is peppered with huge rounded granite boulders and is a pretty spot to stop for a snack and a bit of exploring. The walk ends before Tongue Point and it isn’t possible to cross to the very end of the point.

Exploring Fairy Cove is a highlight of the walk to Tongue Point. It is best explored at low tide, so plan your walk accordingly. The trail down to Fairy Cove is a steep 500-metre path and can be taken either on the way to Tongue Point or on the return journey. For the brave, a quick dip here is refreshing at any time of year.

 

This walk was contributed by Rachel from Adventure and Sunshine. Get inspired to adventure more on her blog or check her out on Facebook.

Need to know

Length: 9.6km (including diversion to Fairy Cove)
Time: 3 – 4 hrs
Grade: Moderate / Grade 3 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style: Return
Access: Once inside the gates of Wilsons Promontory National Park, you’ll find the Darby River Carpark roughly 18 kilometres along on your right. The walk starts from here.
Path Taken: Darby River Car Park – Fairy Cove Trail Junction – Darby Saddle Track Junction – Tongue Point – Darby Saddle Track Junction – Fairy Cove Trail Junction – Darby River Car Park.
Further Info: Check tide times before you set off on your walk.

Tidal River to Oberon Bay

Tidal River to Oberon Bay - Wilsons Promontory National Park - Victoria - Australia

Image courtesy of Tim Messenger from Bike Hike Brew

Traverse the stunning 8.5-kilometre (one way) coastal trail from Tidal River to Oberon Bay, returning via the same track to take it all in again from a different angle. You can choose to make this a full day hike, or stay the night at Oberon Bay Campground for a very cruisy overnight hike.

Oberon Bay Walking Track is well traversed but you’ll find it’s not too busy. It is, however, very well maintained and easy to follow. Along the way, you’ll walk through Tea-tree scrub, climb huge granite slabs, cross stunning beaches and even get your feet wet crossing a shallow creek. If you choose to make it an overnight hike, you’ll be impressed with the attractive and well setup campsite at Oberon Bay.

 

This hike was originally submitted to The Bushwalking Blog as a guest post by Tim Messenger from Bike Hike Brew, so we have Tim to thank for all the details.

Need to know

Length: 17 km
Time: 5 hours (can be done as an overnight hike with 2.5 hrs each way)
Grade: Easy – Moderate / Grade 3 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style: Return
Access: The trailhead is next to the Tidal River Visitor Centre.
Path Taken: Tidal River – Oberon Bay Walking Track – Oberon Bay – Oberon Bay Walking Track – Tidal River.

Wilsons Prom Southern Circuit

Wilsons Prom Southern Circuit - Wilsons Promontory National Park - Victoria - Australia

Image courtesy of Amber Hill from Hill Tribe Travels

Wilsons Promontory National Park, fondly known as ‘The Prom’, is one of our most loved places to visit. We love the overnight hikes and a standout was our 3 day, 2-night hike around the Southern Circuit.

There are a number of well-marked Wilsons Prom overnight hikes in this section of The Prom. We opted to take in Sealers Cove, Refuge Bay and Little Waterloo Bay by returning along the Telegraph Track from Waterloo Bay, across the middle of the park.

The walk starts from Telegraph Saddle, where a free shuttle bus will drop you off from Tidal River (this service runs on weekends from Melbourne Cup to Easter long weekend and during the busy summer ballot period). Sealers Cove is a beautiful, circular cove with glassy water and a long sandy beach – perfect for a dip after the 10-kilometre hike from the Saddle. There is a river crossing at Sealers Cove and it’s recommended to check the tide times before commencing as it can get quite deep.

A campsite is available at Sealers Cove, but we continued to Refuge Cove which is another 6.4 kilometres and the trail offers great views. Refuge Cove is an absolutely stunning secluded beach, one of my favourite places at The Prom. The campsite is located at the southern end of the beach.

The next day was short, kilometre wise, with only a 7.2-kilometre hike from Refuge Bay to Little Waterloo Bay. The beauty of Little Waterloo Bay is that it is only accessible by foot (unlike Refuge Bay where you will find boats stopping overnight), and there’s a white sandy beach with bright blue water. We spent time enjoying the beach, playing cricket and swimming in the waves.

Our third day took us from Little Waterloo Bay, along the Telegraph track back to the Telegraph Saddle. You can veer off and continue along the Light Station and Roaring Meg track after Waterloo Bay. The inland track was around 12 kilometres long. By the end, we were well and truly ready to reach the end and celebrate our achievement.

The Southern Circuit is a combination of bush tracks, well-graded trails, boardwalks, 4WD tracks and sandy beaches. The campsites can be booked online and over the peak holiday periods they will book out. Overnight hikers must obtain their permit from the Tidal River Visitor Centre before departing.

The campsites along the way are basic with composting toilets. Untreated creek or tank water is available at some campsites on the Southern Circuit, but supply is not guaranteed so it’s best to carry as much as possible.

 

This hike was contributed by Amber Hill from Hill Tribe Travels. Find all your family travel inspiration on their blog, or connect with them on Instagram.

Need to know

Length: 35.6 km
Time: 3 days
Grade: Moderate – Difficult / Grade 4 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style: Circuit
Access: Once inside the park gates, drive almost all the way to the camp grounds at Tidal River. Soon after a bridge crossing the river, the road splits and goes either right to the campground or straight/left to Telegraph Saddle Carpark. Head left and park at Telegraph Saddle, where the walk begins.
Path Taken: Telegraph Saddle – Sealers Cove – Refuge Bay – Little Waterloo Bay – Telegraph Saddle (there is the longer option of going via the Light Station, Roaring Meg, the South Point and returning to Tidal River).
Further Info: Check tide times before you set off on your walk.

Wilsons Prom Lighthouse Walk (via little Waterloo Bay and Roaring Meg)

Wilsons Prom Lighthouse Walk - Wilsons Promontory National Park - Victoria - Australia

Image courtesy of Suzie Kelsey from The Wandering Linguist

This is one of the best Wilsons Prom 3-day hikes, which will take you along the southern coast of Wilsons Promontory to the light station (also known as the southernmost point of mainland Australia) and back around. The hike involves a lot of two things: trudging along seemingly endless beaches and tramping up and down mountains through the bush.

The first part will take you from the carpark to the coast – it is a relatively uneventful bush walk with moderate elevation. The beauty of the walk begins when you reach the first beach at Sealers Cove. It’s a truly spectacular beach – vast, secluded, and stunning. From there you will have a long walk along the beach until you reach the first campsite at Refuge Cove.

The second day is a lot more challenging and involves a lot of ascending, starting with a climb over a mountain to Little Waterloo Bay – which in my opinion is the most beautiful part of this walk and one of the best beaches in Victoria. I could have stayed there all day. But the second part of the walk is even more challenging and involves even greater climbing, so be prepared for that. Once you’ve been to the lighthouse, though, the track evens out considerably and goes back to the flat Victoria that we all know and love.

Day three is much more easy-going (if only there were a campsite earlier along). It involves a flat walk down a wide path which doubles up as an access track for the few vehicles allowed to drive to the lighthouse. You’re quite likely to see a few wallabies and possibly kangaroos along this stretch of the trail as well.

This track is quite difficult and I would only recommend it to serious, experienced hikers. Looking at the map of the track, the elevation is not made very explicit, but it was what almost caught me out when I embarked on this walk. I wasn’t expecting to climb two mountains in one day – and that was the longest day of walking to begin with. Since I was travelling from Melbourne that day, I didn’t arrive until about midday. Another option if you can get to Telegraph Saddle early in the morning, would be to camp at Little Waterloo Bay on the first night instead, making your second day of walking a little easier (with the advantage of camping near the most beautiful beach).

 

This hike was contributed by Suzie Kelsey from The Wandering Linguist. Check it out to read about her adventures, exploring new places and learning languages, or keep in touch on Facebook.

Need to know

Length: 51.8km (16.6km / 23.2km / 12km)
Time: 3 days (5 hrs / 8 hrs / 4 hrs)
Grade: Moderate – Difficult / Grade 4 (according to the Australian Walking Track Grading System).
Style: Circuit
Access: Once inside the park gates, drive almost all the way to the camp grounds at Tidal River. Soon after a bridge crossing the river, the road splits and goes either right to the campground or straight/left to Telegraph Saddle Carpark. Head left and park at Telegraph Saddle, where the walk begins.
Path Taken: Telegraph Saddle – Sealers Cove – Refuge Cove (camp) – Little Waterloo Bay – Wilsons Promontory Lightstation – Roaring Meg (camp) – Telegraph Saddle.

Looking for a trail that’s longer, closer, or not as challenging?

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Wilsons Prom Accommodation & Camping

Whether you’re planning an overnight or multi-day hike at The Prom, or you just want to base yourself somewhere and spend a few days exploring, you’ll obviously need somewhere to sleep (even if it’s just the night before and/or after you start hiking).

Tidal River offers the main Wilsons Prom camping that you don’t have to hike to, with over 400 powered and unpowered sites available. There are also huts and cabins, and the gorgeous ‘glamping’-style Wilsons Promontory Wilderness Retreats which are a cross between tent and luxury bush-cabin. There is another small and more basic campsite called Stockyard Camp, near the park entry (about 30 kilometres from Tidal River) with only 20 campsites. These can all be booked online via Parks Victoria and I suggest you book well ahead, especially during busy times.

Outside of the Wilsons Promontory National Park boundaries but still relatively close by, there are a number of campsites and caravan parks from which you could drive to Tidal River in under an hour. I suggest checking out the WikiCamps app for details. If you’re a visitor to Australia, their 30-day free trial will do the job but if you think you’ll use it beyond the trial period you won’t regret paying their small fee.

If you’re after a hotel, B&B, or some form of self-contained accommodation within an hour of Wilsons Prom, check out what Booking.com has to offer.

Best time to visit Wilsons Promontory

First things first, there are certain times of year when Wilsons Promontory is known to be absolutely hectic – Victorian school holiday periods and, during summer, even weekends outside of school holidays are to be avoided if you don’t like crowds. To stay at Tidal River Campground during school holidays requires booking way ahead of time – for summer school holidays and some long weekends throughout the year, there’s even a ballot system.

Weekday visits during the summer months will be better, but weekday visits during Spring and Autumn are probably the optimum time. Winter weather in this part of the world can be pretty unpredictable, so a hiking trip from June to August is for the more hardcore.

Getting from Melbourne to Wilsons Prom

There are a few options for getting from Melbourne to Wilsons Promontory but without a doubt, your best choice would be to drive yourself. If you’re flying in from interstate or overseas, there are plenty of hire options available. Hire a car from somewhere like Europcar, or take a look at our adventure mobile, Roamy, which you can hire through Camplify (they have bigger campers too if you’re travelling as a family or group).

Wilsons Prom is 225 kilometres south-east of Melbourne so the drive will take you between three and a half and four and a half hours (depending on when you’re travelling). Obviously, your route will vary depending on where in Melbourne you’re travelling from. Google Maps is your best bet to plan your trip.

It is possible, although not easy, to access Wilsons Prom by public transport. If you’re game, it’ll take some planning but it’s basically a bus and a taxi.

  • A V/Line bus service runs between Southern Cross Station in Melbourne’s CBD and Yarram. It runs 7 days a week with fewer services on weekends. Depart the bus at Fish Creek.
  • The last 55 kilometres of the journey can only be made by taxi, with South Gippsland Regional Taxis (Phone: 03 5662 4242). Call them to book your pickup (both ways) in advance. This won’t be cheap but South Gippsland Regional Taxis might be able to give you a rough price over the phone so give them a call before making your decision.

Your third option is to join a guided tour, which will obviously be the easiest but may work out more expensive. If you don’t mind (or even prefer) to join a group, and you like the idea of having all the cooking, driving and organising done for you then read on for tour options.

Wilsons Promontory Tours

A Wilsons Prom tour will be the best option for some visitors to The Prom and there are heaps of different offerings available from various tour operators.

Nearly all tours will depart from Melbourne and most even offer hotel pickup, so they’re the perfect option for anyone who doesn’t have access to a car.

The added advantage is that you can sleep on the bus – it’s a long drive from Melbourne to Wilsons Prom, especially if you only have a day to visit – and they’ll provide some meals and refreshments along the way. A good starting point is to check out all the Wilsons Prom tours that Viator Travel has on offer. Not all tours are hiking focused, so pick one that suits what you’re looking for.

Wilsons Promontory Maps

For some of the shorter hikes, like Lilly Pilly Gully and Mount Oberon, you can easily get by with the maps provided by Parks Victoria. However, if you’re doing something longer or even if you’re planning to explore the dunes at Big Drift, you’ll want to bring along a proper Wilsons Prom hiking map.

A topographic, 1:25,000 scale map is best for hikers. They’re available on paper from various Publishers and can be purchased either online (Google is your friend), from hiking stores, or possibly even from the Tidal River Visitor Centre.

If you’re happy to use your phone as your map, keeping in mind you’ll want to have a paper map on hand should you suffer from tech fail, you can download the free Avenza Maps app (on Android, iPhone, or Windows) and purchase an appropriate map from Avenza’s store.

Those familiar with The Prom might notice there’s a glaring omission from this list – the Northern Prom Circuit. The northern end of Wilsons Promontory is incredibly beautiful, but I haven’t included any overnight or multi-day hikes in the north because it’s a pretty wild place with tracks that are undefined or marked only with flagging tape. While most of The Prom’s hiking is very accessible, some of the trails in the north are only for experienced hikers. If that’s what you consider yourself, you won’t need my help anyway.

Disclaimer: Some of the links above (eg. to Viator Travel, Europcar, etc.) are affiliate links, meaning I earn a small percentage of any sales made when visitors click through.

 

Have you been to Wilsons Promontory National Park? Got any questions, comments, updates or corrections? Let us know by commenting below.

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