Wednesday, December 18, 2013

On the Road Trip - Australia - Wilsons Promontory National Park

Camping truly is one of life’s great levelers, whether you are young or old, rich or poor, a person unknown or a person of influence, you are all on the one level when you are camping! An instant sense of community prevails, when you think about it, apart from a hospital ward, where else do you find yourself talking to complete strangers in your pajamas? It seems you are occasionally sharing a knowing glance with your fellow campers, showing compassion, respect and assistance, as the new arrival struggles to pitch their tent in treacherous weather. Compliments are shared for equipment innovation, ‘that is a nice chair you have there’, ‘I like what you have done with your annex’ or ‘that certainly is the finest of amenities’. The simplicity of the camping lifestyle, combined with the commitment to ‘do the hard yards’ of set up and pack up, bonds you as campers and brings with it a strange sense of satisfaction. In short it would be easier ‘not to camp’, but camping allows access to places and people that you would otherwise miss out on.
We left Wallaga Lake and headed further south, stopping in a gorgeous, little working village, known as Cobargo, for a late breakfast and some groceries. It was a delight to find ‘Sweet Home Cobargo’ Organic store, where we grabbed some fresh produce, gorgeous baby carrots, locally made sourdough, local organic free range eggs and some delicious dried figs.

It was then a moment of great excitement, as we crossed the border into Victoria....we had to stop and take a photo of course!

We had planned an extra day up our sleeve for driving, in case we didn’t manage the eight hour drive to Wilsons Promontory in a day. This proved to be a favourable decision, meaning less need to rush and tire ourselves, with a long day of driving and then arriving into ‘The Prom’ after dark. We arrived at Lake’s Entrance early afternoon. 

After having a little bit of a sightsee, we chose to stay at a camping ground half an hour further south, at Eagle Point. This was quite a remote spot, we had to move quickly to set up the tent, with a strong southerly wind challenging us and raindrops threatening! 
Once set up we had a cosy, little spot under a tree with views of Lake King. A simple platter of South Coast Cheese 3yr old vintage cheddar, my Naked Food pickled onions and Honor Northam of  Bermagui’s Il Passaggio Restaurant, delicious hand made sourdough bread, made for a great nibble. 

This was followed by an easy BBQ dinner of lamb, rosemary and pinenut sausages and salad.
Early to rise, to see the sunrise over the lake, we were up, packed up and on the road again by 9am. 

Our last stop before ‘The Prom’ was the large town of Sale, where we found another organic store for further supplies. Also visiting a camping store for a few needed accessories and without realising at the time, I made one of the wisest decisions I have ever made, to purchase a pair of Merino wool hiking socks here! (These were to come in very handy for the next four chilly days at Wilsons Promontory!)

Two hours further south, we excitedly entered the Wilsons Promontory National Park about 3pm and after a magnificent half hour drive in, found ourselves at the Tidal River camping ground. Unlike our campsite at Wallaga Lake, we were wedged between six other occupied sites, so unpacking was a little cramped. (I realised later that of the 484 campsites at Tidal River, only twenty of them are powered sites, those are all clustered together, which explained why we were all concentrated in this one area.)
Now we were contending with an even more persistent wind and rain clouds hovering, it was pretty chilly as well. It took us a good two hours to completely set up, including an initial discussion of which was the best way to face our door and camp kitchen area! Once set up we were able to fully take in and appreciate, the awesomeness of our location and we felt privileged to be here.

Straight to the camp kitchen for me, one of my happy places, I reveled in making a fish curry and basmati rice, which was so perfect for our cooler weather conditions and the boys really appreciated it warming their bellies.

The staff at the Visitor Centre in the park, had pre-warned us that the native wombats come out at dusk, in search of ‘tourist food’ and have been known to eat through the side of your tent, if they smell anything remotely food related. We were careful to clean up and pack away all traces of food, what wasn’t packed in our sturdy fridge or tubs with lids, we stored in the car overnight. That night it poured with rain and we relished our cosy, safe place, in our warm, dry, wombat free tent! The next morning we arose to hear our neighbours had, had two wombats come into their tent, help themselves to their food supply, then exit through a hole the wombats inconveniently made in the tent wall to escape! We have since then been vigilant in leaving no food in sight or smell within our tent,  as we retire to bed each night.
There is so much I could show and tell you of Wilsons Promontory, I have tried to capture it for you with my photos, however no photo can really translate how vast and beautiful it is here. Like the Blue Mountains of NSW, it is a pristine place, which makes you so incredibly thankful for the institution of National Parks, that has  and continues to ensure the preservation of such magnificence.
Highlights for us were:
Lilly Pilly Gully Nature Walk - a rainforest meets Australian bushland walk, with some incredible birdlife. This was a one and a half hour walk, easy going, wide path, with a rainforest boardwalk and creek at the end in the gully.

Squeaky Beach - the same day we visited this gorgeous beach, the 'rounded quartz sand' SQUEAKS when you walk on it. There are also amazing red rock formations at the north end of the beach, which create a maze of passages for fun exploration. If you have small children with you or big kids at heart, this place is a must for squeaking, as well hide and seek! The afternoon we were there was rather windy!

Mt Oberon Summit Walk - now this walk was highly recommended by many, the guide book indicated it was a 3.4km walk, classed as moderate to hard, taking about an hour. We thought the 3.4km included going up and down, we discovered that it was in fact 3.4km EACH WAY and on the way up it was literally an uphill gradient all the way! This may sound ignorant of us, since we were 'climbing to the summit of a mountain', however, we have done many walks and usually every now and then, things plateau giving you a breather, then go up again.....not on this walk! The majority of the walk is on a broad fire trail, with bush all around, it then finishes with some steep stairs, before you see what you came for! Once we reached the top it was magnificent, the temperature was a little cool, but the views were breathtaking and so worth it! No pain no gain people!

Normans Beach - this beach is walking access from the Tidal river camping ground, where we were camped. It is beauty everywhere you look, no matter what time of the day you visit. It was too cold for us to swim, although there were some who braved it! It is where Tidal river meets the sea so there is so many different aspects to enjoy.

In between these adventures we did lots of eating and resting, probably more resting than we anticipated doing, as the weather was quite overcast and cool.
Cooler weather also meant hearty breakfasts and comfort food coming from me in the camp kitchen. 
egg, bacon, cheese and pineapple muffins

poached eggs, tomato, bacon, lamb sausage with sourdough toast

chicken & salad burrito with a mango relish

salad of avocado, sweet potato, tomato & toasted almonds with a lemon & honey dressing
beef tortillas

spelt linguini with tomato, olives, two cheeses feta & parmesan

When the wind came up, the wind chill factor coming off Bass Strait, meant it was very cold, meaning we had no other choice when the rain came or the sun went down, but to retreat inside the tent to get warm.

Two other places we loved were the Tidal River Footbridge and boardwalk, also accessible from the camping ground.

Picnic Bay

Tomorrow we head off again, leaving ‘The Prom’ behind, although it’s restorative impact will remain with us as we head for The Great Ocean Road.


Brook said...

nice post

Jane Grover said...

thanks Brook

soiladdict said...

Very interesting, especially since we have not been there, and enjoy camping.

Great pics.

Jane Grover said...

Thanks so much soiladdict we loved camping there!