We are staying on 34th Street, which is an address I’d usually associate with the metropolitan mayhem of New York, not one of Victoria’s most endearing and popular national parks. I’ve lived in smaller apartments than some of the tents on show here and many visitors eschew tents altogether and move in with immense campervans.
Wilsons Prom might be an ideal place to get away from it all, but it seems most of its inhabitants like their home comforts. I went down with some of the area’s regulars who pack more belongings in their car for a weekend away than I own. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but as more of a hardy camper, who likes a more back-to-basics approach, it was something of a culture shock.
Usually any discomfort caused by hardcore camping is overcome by the consumption of alcohol, but on this occasion there was no discomfort and the alcohol I did consume was kept cold by a steady supply of ice in the eskies… so who was I to complain? But if the camping wasn’t quite what I’m accustomed to, the surroundings were definitely something I could get used to.
Tidal River is overshadowed by Mount Oberon, overlooked by rolling sand dunes and nestled in the junction created by the river and the sea. There’s little wonder this place is so popular that even with a quite staggering 484 campsites (and some alternative roofed accommodation should you require), demand still regularly outstrips supply.
And the temporary human population is complemented by a number of permanent residents, the wombats who amble around minding their own business for the most part, but also stealing any food not locked away. Wilsons Prom is the most southerly part of mainland Australia and offers some of the country’s finest scenery, a stunning blend of beaches, granite cliffs, sand dunes and moorland.
Whether you want to go hiking, chill out on the beach, surf, or simply sit around your campsite and watch the world go by, here is a place where the pace of life is slow enough to please yourself. There’s a decent range of walks on offer, from short strolls around Tidal River to overnight hikes.
One of the simplest and most rewarding is to the top of the aforementioned Mount Oberon. You can walk from Tidal River or take advantage of the regular shuttle buses that run from there to various walking start points. It’s a relatively simple climb that takes you up the lee of the mountain so you have no glimpse of what is to come, intensifying the impact when you finally step over a rocky crest to see the world suddenly spread beneath you in epic glory.
I also took a longer option from Darby Saddle via Tongue Point to Darby River. This incorporates fantastic viewpoints at Sparkes Lookout and Lookout Rocks before a descent to Tongue Point, a great little headland.
Following the coast for a bit you then flip over the top of a ridge and the scenery changes from coastline to vast swathes of moor with the Prom’s one and only road cutting through it.