Wilsons Promontory, (THE PROM), to Grantville Victoria 29 to 31 August 2007
18 Sep 2007
The end of the Prom is also the southern most point of Australia and on our wish list to visit. Unfortunately, we learn from the book we bought last night that it is a further 12 miles south of our Tidal River camp ground, and involves serious walking as well as an overnight at a near by camp site. We do not have time to buy a tent and a bed and find someone to carry them for us, so we must change our plans.
Luckily there is an abundance of walks to choose from. A week in this area would be ideal, however as we only have today and tomorrow we must make the most of it. Our first walk was to Pillar Point which is only 40 minutes away and on to Squeaky Beach which is only 50 minutes away; then as we carry on round the coast line Picnic Beach and Whisky Beach beckon. Sylvia suggested we should take some sandwiches but the walk is not all that far so I vetoed this idea; you would think after all of these years I would have learned.
As we approached the start of our walk at the bridge over Tidal River a very small brown bird, the female of the Blue Wren pictured on our blog site for Kangaroo Island, came dancing around us; a beautiful start to our day. Across the river we followed the path up the hill. Almost every step of this journey provided another photo opportunity and our camera worked over time. After our thrill of a 'close encounter with a wombat' last night, I was looking for signs on the path. The wombat's droppings are cube shaped, which poses the question, how do they keep such a serene expression on their teddy bear like face. I got my photograph of evidence of wombats, but Sylvia will not let me put it on the blog and I might not be allowed to keep it.
The path delved off at the top of the hill to Pillar Point and as we walked along a wallaby bounded across the path in front of us. After clambering up the rocks at the end of the path for great views, we retraced our steps, (some considerable distance), and carried on to Squeaky Beach, which of course is at the bottom of the hill. This is not a round trip. The soft sand at Squeaky Beach is made up of fine quartz particles which rub together in the manner of very tiny marbles and squeak quite loudly as you walk on them. We had come across this experience on several beaches as we travelled down the east coast of Australia. Squeaky beach is over a half mile long; I don't remember this being taken into account on the distance sign at the start of our walk.
Wilsons Prom forms a dividing line between two major types of beach; quartz beaches to the east and calcareous, (shelly), beaches to the west. Squeaky Beach and Little Oberon Bay are the odd ones out, being the only ones on the west side of The Prom to have quartz sand.
After walking the steep path up another hill, a kangaroo crossed our path and disappeared into the Australian bush along side. Down the other side of the hill was Picnic Beach which was the calcareous type but still soft sand; no squeak but hard going. The tide was in and the path over yet another hill to Whisky Beach was inaccessible. We climbed the steep path in the far corner to find the bad news was it only led to the car park, but the good news was there was a toilet. On our way back I ran along the sand shouting to Sylvia, "Chase me", but only the waves took any notice.
When we eventually reached the path to Pillar Point at the top of our last hill, we could have gone down hill to the camp, but we chose to take a longer upward path to Tidal Lookout. We found that this walk gave wonderful views in all directions. The onward steep path down took us behind the hill and around the far side, joining the Lilly Pilly trail which was intended as our afternoon walk. The add on's had doubled the length of our journey which had been a difficult 7 miles, including the 2 miles of walking on soft sandy beaches. Lunch time was at 3 pm and you have already guessed it; I was reminded throughout the walk we could have taken sandwiches.
I got out the table and chairs and Sylvia was soon thrilled when a parrot joined her at the table. Well you can have too much of a good thing. When the rest of its large extended family joined it, she was defending her sandwiches whilst watching a parrot deliberately knock some of her nachos onto the floor; her cries of delight had taken on a different sound. I had to choose between taking an aggressive stance against the parrots and defending Sylvia, or taking photographs. I got some great action shots.
Our evening walk was along the Loo-erm track, a wetlands board walk which winds alongside the Tidal River. Then we walked around the back of the camp where we came across numerous solitary wombats. This was a magic time, but as I said before, you can have too much of a good thing. At about 10.30pm, Sylvia was lying in bed and accusing me of rocking the van. I denied liability and was sent from my seat at the table to investigate. Outside I walked alongside a mature wombat and repeatedly accused it of having a good scratch against the underside of our van, but it just kept walking and treat me as if I wasn't their.
Next morning, our last at The Prom, we drove up to the lookout point at the start of the mountain walk and viewed our options. We decided that our excursion of yesterday had been strenuous enough so we followed the driving tour which led back out of the park. First we drove to the car park of Whisky Beach, and after exploring this beach we climbed over the dividing hill for a view of Picnic Beach, along the path which the tide had denied us yesterday.
We then drove to Derby River where we found another wombat. This place is clearly crawling, (well walking), with them. We also observed some wading birds and listened to the frogs in the wetlands before taking the walk to Derby Beach; a steady stroll until we had to climb over the sand dunes to reach the beach. By now we reckoned we had done our bit for the walking community and our only stop whilst leaving The Prom was to view some Emus.
Our journey continued westward along the back roads of the coast and we came to a beach at Sandy Point where we had a late lunch, took distance photographs of Wilson's Promontory, and watched a school class begin a lesson on surfing. During our ongoing journey we decided to follow signs for a lighthouse at Cape Liptrap. Unfortunately, as often happens in Australia, there was no notice as to the distance to travel and the road soon changed from sealed to rough. After about 5 miles we could see the lighthouse which was still a long way off so we turned back.
Eventually we joined the main road and stayed the night at Inverloch. We awoke to wet and windy weather which was in direct contrast to our last two days. The van suffered several strong blasts of wind during the onward journey and we decided to follow the tourist route signs away from the nice dual carriageway of the coast. Our road was soon heading up a very long hill on minor roads into countryside, which due to the recent rains, was reminiscent of the Yorkshire Dales. At the highest point was the road which led to our destination of Grantville. If the wind had not been twice as strong as it had been at sea level, I believe I would have really enjoyed this journey.
Safely down we drove into Grantville, crossed the main road and drove down to the boat ramp where we viewed strong waves crashing against the foreshore. No motorhome rally down here. Back at the main road we chanced going east and eventually pulled in at a Koala Refuge which also housed 'the best crazy golf' in Australia, and asked for directions. As you guessed, we should have gone west.
At last we arrived at our much looked forward to reunion with the Nepean Nomads at their motorhome rally at Grantville, where we were greeted as long lost friends; which of course we are.