I took the opportunity over the Christmas holidays to get a hike in with my eight year old down at Wilson’s Promontory. This is a magnificent part of Victoria, the southernmost tip of mainland Australia.
First of all, you need to make a booking with Parks Victoria. Permits are quite cheap, I think $13/night. Before you enter Wilson’s Promontory, you have to go through a kind of toll booth where at busier times of the year they will check that you have made a booking.
Wilson’s Promontory is about a 3 hr drive south of Melbourne. It’s busy by Australian standards in the Summer, lots of organised trips with coaches etc. Fortunately these all seem to congregate around Tidal River and a few of the road-accessible lookouts and beaches. There’s camping at Tidal River but it’s pretty awful unless you like groups of kids, bluetooth speakers etc. It’s also expensive at $65/night for an unpowered site.
Often, I’ve been unable to get a booking for the specific site that I wanted. Probably not the correct thing to do but I’ve booked one of the other overnight sites and then stayed at the site that I wanted to anyway. Even when a camp has been booked out, it’s clear that there are empty pitches. I’m not sure if this is a fault with the booking system or deliberate.
When you have your stay booked, you need to print the reservation off, show it at the toll booth to get through and then queue at the office at the Tidal River campsite to get a car permit. Then, you can drive back to the Mount Oberon car park which is the trail-head for most of the hikes. Occasionally, the Mount Oberon Carpark Rd is closed off by barrier and a Shuttle Bus runs from the Tidal River campsite.
As you can see in the Google Maps image above, the overnight car park is marked as being at the Tidal River campsite. I’ve seen plenty of people, myself included, who leave their car at the Mount Oberon car park and start from there.
Decided on the little hike across from Mount Oberon to Little Waterloo. Little Waterloo is probably the prettiest of the beaches, the white quartz beach would be one of the whitest in the world. It’s quite a flat track. The track down to Telegraph Saddle is shared with Park Victoria vehicles, although I only ever saw one. The second half across Waterloo Bay walking track is hiking only and really beautiful. Lots of it is narrow boardwalk over swamp etc. There’s plenty of creeks for water.
Pretty flat track.
For an eight year old, this walk was close to ideal. Just about the limit of what he could walk without too much discomfort. He carried an extremely light pack the first day with just a sleeping bag in it. On the hike back, he got tired and his pack got absorbed into mine. The final few kilometres mostly uphill to the Mount Oberon car park were not great, he was very tired at this point.
I would do the hike again. I think the 12 km (about 7 miles) was maybe a tad too much for an eight year old. Conditions were ideal, maybe 25 during the day and 15 at night. A kid any older should be able to tackle this hike quite easily and I saw plenty on the way.
A few of the pictures for an idea of the landscape.