This year we decided our summer holiday was not going to be spent fighting impatient crowds at the airport or tourist crowds in fancy resort towns. No, this year we were going to take it slow – slow down, slow time, and live in the moment. So what did we decide to do? A 14km return walk into the Victorian wilderness.
Now stay with me here. It may sound strenuous – and trust me, it was – but what a way to get back to the essentials of life, what really matters. All you have are the necessities of life – food, water and shelter (ok and maybe some wine – and as far as I’m concerned that is a necessity). Get back to nature and spend some time just being. Time to reflect on the year that has gone, the year that is coming but more importantly to just be in the moment.
We chose Wilsons Prom in southern Victoria – a beautiful, and in parts wild, section of the coast, and the most southern tip of the Australian mainland. Talk about getting away from it all.
We took a couple of days to drive from our home in New South Wales, taking the lonelier back roads instead of playing dodgem cars on the highways. Arriving at Tidal River you would be mistaken for thinking that half of Victoria had upped sticks and plonked themselves down right here. This is the main camping section of the Wilsons Promontory National Park and backs on to the spectacular Norman Bay. While not my idea of a good holiday, if you like your camping with decent amenities, a good cafe and general store and VERY close neighbours, then this could be the place for you. But get in early as it is booked out months in advance and for popular holiday periods they have a lottery system. So good luck. But be careful what you wish for.
But this is where we leave our car, don our packs and start the trek to Oberon Bay, our destination for the next couple of days. At 7kms one-way it is not a short walk but the views along the way are spectacularly distracting. The ocean is a pattern of beautiful blues of varying depth and the view is framed with melaluecas, she-oaks and old, gnarly banksias sculpted by wind, rain and fire. After rounding the first point we reach Little Oberon Bay, a gorgeous swathe of pearl white sand that needs to be traversed. Ever tried walking over soft sand with a 10 kilo pack on your back? No? Let me just say it hurts. Alot.
Once past that hurdle the rest of the walk is quite level and we soon reach our destination – Oberon Bay. Surrounded by mountains, this lovely curve of beach is postcard perfect with forested sand dunes and a whisky coloured creek winding its way to the sea. But the best bit? Save for a few hikers making their way back to Tidal River, it is completely empty.
We find a lovely campsite in the dunes, set up our tent and then go exploring. The afternoon is spent beach combing, taking photographs, bird watching and witnessing hundreds of soldier crabs build their cities along the shoreline. It’s a slow, blissful pace as the sun makes its way across the sky and sinks into the ocean.
The next days are spent in a similar fashion – just us, nature and time. Time to be, time to think, time to feel. All the extraneous, unnecessary parts of life gone for all too brief a time. But just so you don’t hate me too much – we also had to contend with biting flies, ants and sand in just about everything. Seems paradise does come at a cost.
For those who are not so interested in this type of adventure there are many short walks to explore the coast in Wilsons Prom and plenty of gorgeous beaches an easy ramble from a car-park. My favourite would have to by Whisky Bay – an alluring cove of aquamarine sea edged with granite boulders. You should also visit neighbouring Picnic Bay which is a short, not too difficult walk up over the headland.
Getting there: Wilsons Promontory National Park is approximately 3 hours drive from Melbourne. There’s no way around it – you’re going to need wheels to get here. The park is free for day use however if you do want to trek and camp overnight within the park you need to book as they limit the number of overnight campers. We had to pay a daily fee of $12.50 each – a bargain in my opinion. There is plenty of information on the park’s website.
I would urge you to think about taking an overnight trek into this spectacular region. You may curse me on the way but once you get there I know you will not regret it.