Classic Trek: Wilsons Promontory Circuit

3 DAYS, 63.7km

The most southerly point of the Australian mainland is Victoria’s favourite wilderness destination, and not just because of its beautiful beaches, superb coastal scenery and abundant wildlife. Despite packing so much into a small area, there is still a relaxed atmosphere about The Prom (it even has a nickname). And the best way to experience it is on a walk that circumnavigates its southern reaches, visiting most of the park’s main attractions and spending a night in a lighthouse keepers’ cottage (if you don’t want to carry a full pack check out our page on day walks at Wilsons Prom).

Day 1: Tidal River to Roaring Meg (18km, 5 hours)

From the campsite walk south along Norman Beach, leaving the sand at the end of the beach on a walking track that skirts around Norman Point below Mt Oberon and drops to Little Oberon Bay.

Little Oberon Bay

Pick up the track at the far end of the bay and follow it around the headland to Oberon Bay. Once you hit the sand you will need to cross a creek – it is worth doing some exploring to find the easiest crossing point.

Creek crossing, Oberon Bay

Once over the creek, another  beach walk leads to a wide, sandy track that heads inland to the Oberon Bay hiking campsite, then through forest for 3.5km to a four-way junction at the heart of the southern Prom. Turn right (south) on to the Lighthouse Track, a management road. One kilometre on is a small shelter and water tank at Halfway Hut, which makes for a nice lunch spot – keep an eye out for the sign as it is not easily visible from the road. Continue south, climbing the steep Martins Hill then branching off the road on to a walking track that follows an old telegraph line. The track enters dense forest with a carpet of ferns, falling and rising sharply as it crosses several streams before reaching the campsite 7km past Martins Hill. There is a toilet and space for 40 tents in the clearing.

Day 2: Roaring Meg to South East Point (9km, 4 hours)

Take a morning expedition to South Point, the southernmost point on the Australian mainland – it is 3km to the windswept outcrop. Return to camp, pack up and continue east on the walking track, crossing a couple of minor ridgelines before climbing to meet the vehicle track again. Just 200m on is a signposted turnoff to the lighthouse. This track soon meets the southern coastline atop rocky cliffs with views to the rugged peninsula of South East Point, with the lighthouse on top.

South East Point from Lighthouse Track

Turn right at another junction and cross the exposed granite neck of South East Point. Hold on to your hat – literally, wind speeds of over 200km/h have been recorded here, making this one of the windiest places in Australia. On the crossing the track passes some curiously shaped boulders – their shape is partly explained by severe exposure to the elements and partly by human intervention, when The Prom was used as a commando training base during World War 2. What happened is not entirely clear, but what is known is that there used to be one large boulder and after the commandos left there were three. From here the lighthouse is only a few hundred metres away, but it is reached by a cruel climb up a very steep concrete footpath. However, at the end awaits the old stone lighthouse (built from Prom granite in 1859) and the small village of cottages at its base. These have been refurbished for the benefit of weary walkers and contain hot showers, bunks with mattresses and a kitchen with a fridge, stove and microwave. There is even a reading room with big, comfy armchairs.

Wilsons Promontory lighthouse

Day 3: South East Point to Refuge Cove (16.2km, 6.5 hours)

Heading down the concrete footpath in the morning isn’t as bad as the night before, but the calves still take a pounding. Cross the neck of South East Point and climb to the track junction and turn right on to the south-east track, completed in 1998. The track winds through beautiful fern gullies, hugging the eastern slopes of the Boulder Range. A steady climb is rewarded after about 5km at a rock platform with expansive views. The forest becomes drier as the track descends, with great views ahead to Waterloo Bay and the rugged eastern coastline of the Prom beyond.

Waterloo Bay at sunset from South East Track

After an hour or so the track doubles back on itself at the base of the ridge and emerges onto Waterloo Bay, giving you the chance to feel sand between your toes for the first time in two days. The beach is long and beautiful, however dangerous rips mean it’s not the place for a swim.

Trekking along Waterloo Bay

Follow the beach to its northern end and head inland briefly, passing Little Waterloo Bay camping area before returning to the beach at the picture-perfect North Waterloo Bay. The track leaves the beach and climbs steeply, leveling out soon before reaching a saddle and a minor track junction below Kersops Peak. Drop packs and take the short detour for arguably the best view in the park.

After picking up your pack again the sharp descent to the beautiful sheltered beach of Refuge Cove takes about 30 minutes. There is a campsite with toilets and piped water on the back of Cove Creek at the beach’s southern end.

Overlooking Refuge Cove

Refuge Cove campsite

Day 4: Refuge Cove to Tidal River (16km, 6.5 hours)

From the northern end of Refuge Cove the track climbs again en route to a superb lookout at Horn Point overlooking the majestic Sealers Cove. About 45 minutes further on the track descends and passes through the Sealers Cove campground, which has toilets and piped water, then emerges on to the superb Sealers Cove beach. The immediate challenge is to wade Sealers Creek, which is much easier at low tide so it’s worth checking tide times before heading out.

Crossing Sealers Creek

Sealers Cove is one of The Prom’s best swimming beaches, and even if you don’t feel up to taking the plunge it is well worth taking off your boots and wading into the shallows to soak up the atmosphere of the last – and best – wild beach of the trek.

Lunch break at Sealers Cove

A large sign marks the track inland which follows a boardwalk for 2km through Sealers Swamp. Then, after a final view of the coast, the track disappears among giant tree ferns then climbs steadily, gaining 300 metres to reach a clearing at Windy Saddle 7km from Sealers Cove. From here it is 2.9km of easy walking to Telegraph Saddle and the car park on the slopes of Mt Oberon. It is possible to walk the 3.5km down the road to Tidal River, but save the bitumen-pounding by hopping on the Parks Victoria shuttle bus (check times before heading out).

Boulder Saddle

NEED TO KNOW 

The hub of the park is Tidal River, the end of the only road in and out. There are 450 campsites behind Norman Beach, along with a general store, take-away food shop and petrol station. There is also some cabin-style accommodation. Bookings are required for sites at Tidal River and the out-station campsites on the hike (expect competition in peak season) and to stay in the lighthouse cottages. This is a multi-day walk and you will need appropriate equipment and supplies; make sure you check with the rangers that you have everything you need before you head out.

Taking a dip in Waterloo Bay

OTHER THINGS TO SEE AND DO 

You could stay a week at Tidal River and not run out of short walks; Squeaky Beach is a must-see while Tongue Point is also highly recommended. The climb up Mt Oberon is taxing but worthwhile for commanding views. Click here for track notes for a selection of great day walks at the Prom. Or just go for a swim (warning: the water is very cold!) or relax on the beach with a good book.

ACCOMMODATION AND SUPPLIES 

The Tidal River general store has basic camping gear but bring more specialized equipment with you.

Little Waterloo Bay campsite

MORE INFORMATION  

Book online at www.parkstay.vic.gov.au or with Parks Vic on 13 1963

These descriptions are a guide only. While we have made every effort to make them accurate, we accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained while using them. Make sure you use an up-to-date map and consult rangers before heading out.