Arrive Wednesday 13 November : Depart Wednesday 20 November 2019
Led by Mark, Wendy, Brian and Christine
Words by Karen. Photos by Erika, Philip, Donna, Brian, Helen, Bob, Karen, Barry
34 Bushwalkers gathered at Tidal River Camp, occupying tents, campers, caravans, cabins, a lodge and luxury villas. After months of worrying dry weather at home, we were greeted with rain, wind and cold conditions on our arrival at The Prom. First up was a guided walk by National Park Rangers. Although it was pouring with rain, they decided to toughen us up and conduct their introduction outside in the weather. A good opportunity to dig out mothballed wet weather gear, and woolly hats and gloves.
Day 1 : Thursday 14 November
Walks : Two Bays Walk – Squeaky Beach and Picnic Bay – approx. 10 km. 2 groups led by Mark & Brian
Starting at the Tidal River footbridge we followed the track left towards Squeaky Beach which climbs to the top of the ridge separating Norman and Leonard Bays. A short detour to Pillar Lookout offers views of Tidal River, Norman Beach and the distant offshore Skull Rock. Descend via several slabs of granite to the southern end of Squeaky Beach. The sound comes from the evenly sized quartz grains which rub against each other like marbles. We were underwhelmed.
Cross the beach and climb over Leonard Point to visit another sandy cove in Picnic Bay. Return the same way.
Christine led a shorter walk to Squeaky Beach as above, and returned via Squeaky Beach Road and Tidal River Road – less hills!!
Day 2 : Friday 15 November
Walks : Lilly Pilly Circuit + Mt Bishop + Mt Oberon, led by Donna; Little Oberon Bay, led by Jan; Oberon Bay Circuit Walk, led by Barry
Donna’s group walked from Tidal River on the 1 km Link Track in the rain to the Lilly Pilly Circuit, a 5.5 km circuit walk which goes through heathland, eucalypt forest and stands of warm temperature rainforest.
On the return loop a side track goes up the hill to the top of Mt Bishop. Some walkers elected to go up with Donna, the remainder decided to leave it for a sunnier day when the views might be clearer.
The weather after lunch cleared sufficiently for most of the group to walk up Mt Oberon – 6.8 km return. After driving to the Telegraph Saddle carpark the metalled summit track gradually winds uphill to the telecommunications towers. Then a series of rock steps lead to the summit. Our group had the top to ourselves, although a strong wind kept us carefully clinging to the rocks.
Jan’s group walked from the Visitor Centre at Tidal River to the southern end of Norman Beach, across Norman Point to Little Oberon Bay – 8.2 km return.
Barry’s group got a lift up to Telegraph Saddle Carpark and followed the Telegraph Track to Telegraph Junction and the turnoff to the east and the coast at Oberon Bay. The walk then follows the coast north back to Tidal River, via Little Oberon Bay and Norman Bay – 17 km.
Day 3 : Saturday 16 November
Walks : Vereker Outlook and Millers Landing – 10 km return. 2 groups led by Brian and Karen. Lilly Pilly Circuit (7.8 km) + Tidal Overlook Circuit (extra 2 km) led by Betty & Bob
Vereker Outlook is in the northern section of the Park, and the vegetation and coastline are quite different to what we had already seen. The one constant is however, the tumble of granite boulders everywhere. The walk starts at Five Mile carpark and climbs to Darby Saddle for views. Return to the management track and take the Millers Landing Nature Walk to arrive at the southermost stand of mangroves in the world. This section of the Corner Inlet is like a big tidal lake and where both groups paused for lunch and a wander around the waterline.
Betty’s group walked from Tidal River to the Lilly Pilly Circuit which climbs across the southern face of Mt Bishop through stringybark forest before descending to the lush rainforest of Lilly Pilly Gully and returning to the carpark via Lilly Pilly Nature Walk. While walking back to camp on the Link Track, Bob and a few other walkers split off and climbed to the Tidal Overlook and returned to camp via Pillar Point.
Day 4: Sunday 17 November
Walks: Light House Overnight Walk led by Barry; Lay Day for everyone else
Barry, Martin, Helen, Sharon, Glenn and Donna left Telegraph Saddle in good weather to tackle the 21 km/6 hour walk to the historic lighthouse completed in 1859. It is built from granite quarried nearby and is 19 metres high. Walkers’ accommodation is in the adjacent lighthouse cottages – no tents required! The return journey along the coast via Little Waterloo Bay, Oberon Bay and Little Oberon Bay is a 27 km/9 hour walk.
Day 5: Monday 18 November
Walks: Darby River, Tongue Point, Darby Saddle – 2 groups led by Mark (12 km) and Brian (9.5 km). Prom Wildlife Walk and Whisky Bay, led by Jan
Brian’s group started at Darby River and climbed through windswept coastal vegetation to get views of Darby Swamp and the Vereker Range. A side track at 2.4 km climbs down to Fairy Cove, and at 2.7 km the side track leads to the coastal headland of Tongue Point. Back on the main track, a steep climb leads to Lookout Rocks and eventually to Darby Saddle. This was a car shuffle.
Mark’s group started at the Saddle, walked to Fairy Cove, Tongue Point and returned back to the Saddle.
Jan’s group drove to the 2.3 km Prom Wildlife Walk which crosses open grasslands to view native wildlife. On the way back they dropped into Whisky Bay carpark and took the short walk to the beach. Founder members of BBBW, Meriel and Grant went on the Club’s first camp to Wilsons Prom in 1986 – one year after BBBW was formed in 1985 – and then, were part of the group who did the overnight walk to the Lighthouse. 33 years later they were back, enjoying a slightly less challenging itinerary. This is the 5th time BBBW has camped at the Prom.
Day 6: Tuesday 19 November
Walks: Tidal River to Sealers Cove Return led by Barry – 20 km
Barry, Jill, Brian, Christine, Rodney, Erika and Philip set out in sunshine from Mt Oberon Carpark and ascended the gentle climb of about 3 km to Windy Saddle, where you can see views of both the west and east coasts of the Prom. From here, the track descends for about 4 km through rainforest and ferny glades, crossing a couple of streams, until it reaches a flat area of swampland that stretches for another 2 km or so to the beach at Sealers Cove.
In the 1970’s this last part of the track was a knee deep bog and the crossing at Sealers Creek to get to the beach was on a log bridge with a wire to hold on to for support. Now, a boardwalk has been built and a proper bridge constructed to get to the beach.
The rest of the group organised themselves into groups to do walks they had missed earlier in the week, either due to misty weather or scheduling options. Others took the Pennicott Tours boat trip out to Skull Rock and the Lighthouse.
It was a busy week, with so much to do in between dodging showers. Thanks to Mark, Wendy, Brian and Christine for organising this Camp. Driving north towards home and into the parched farmlands and forests of northeast Victoria and southeast NSW, we were finally able to appreciate how fortunate we were to experience the Prom in all its wild and wet glory. Of course shortly afterwards, those parched farmlands and forests went up in flames, and that wonderful cool, green week at Wilsons Promontory is now but a distant memory.