Terry | Feb 10, 2017 | 0
Hiking Wilsons Promontory
‘I can’t quite put my finger on it, but this hike really reminds me of somewhere we’ve been before.’
I stopped to look around. Tree ferns lined the trail, luminescent wherever the sun touched them, damp as they met the earth. This sombre, shaded place was a world away from the azure coastline we had sped along to get there.
‘Colombia’ I said, after a moment. ‘The tree ferns – they look like banana plants. And the heat beneath these trees is like the jungle, just drier.’
Somewhere in the forest an Australian magpie sounded out its melodious, warbling call and we continued on our way.
Hiking to Sealer’s Cove may have reminded us of the Lost City, but we were grateful that the Colombian humidity hadn’t followed us to Australia. Instead, this 10km trail through the heart of Wilson’s Promontory National Park was mostly a sheltered affair.
Tree ferns and eucalyptus kept the heat of the sun at bay in a haze of muted, green light. The occasional spring overflowed onto the path, keeping the ground cool. Of course, it helped that we had set off early. We’ve learnt the hard way that heat stroke is not our friend!
About half way into the trail, we started to pass families loaded up with camping gear. Even the younger kids were piled up with roll matts and sleeping bags as they made their way out of the park after a night camping at the beach. I was impressed – the gradient on the way back was pretty steep!
With every family that passed us I got more and more excited about reaching the cove. We’d heard that it was absolutely stunning from a couple we’d met in Ben Boyd National Park. They’d even seen dolphins! Plus, we may have been in the shade but we were hot.
As the forest gave way to marsh, we knew we were getting closer and started to pick up the pace.
Unfortunately, this was also where we came across marsh flies for the first time. Huge, buzzing and incredibly annoying, these little horrors also bite. By the time we reached the beach itself we realised that our idyllic picnic was going to have to be munched on the move.
Furiously waving our hats around, we wolfed down our sandwiches and debated whether or not we should get in the water.
But then we looked around, properly this time, and the decision was made for us.
From one side of the cove to the other, the beach was completely deserted. The water was shallow and calm and completely clear. There were no telltale bluebottle jellyfish on the sand. And we had it all to ourselves.
Flies or no flies, it’s easy to fall in love with a hike when you can jump into waters this blue half way through.
When I look back on our travels over the past year, there are certain moments that remain clearer in my memory. Times when we have been so happy and so content and frankly almost delirious in one another’s company. Swimming in the glorious, isolated blue of Sealer’s Cove is now one of those moments for me.
For a few minutes we weren’t sweaty and gross and exhausted. We were weightless and clean and the only people on the planet. Or at least on the beach!
I didn’t even mind that we had to get dressed while we were still wet to avoid the flies. Or that we were sweaty again less than ten minutes into the return journey.
By the time we hiked the 10km back to the trail head, uphill this time, I was the happy kind of tired that you sleep dreamlessly after. We waited ten minutes for the shuttle bus, showered off at the park centre amenities block and headed off to find a campsite for the night.
It took us 4 hours to complete this 20km in and out hike and park entrance to Wilson’s Promontory was free. There are toilets, showers, an information centre and a small shop by the main car park. A free shuttle bus takes you the 15 minutes to the trail head.
Always make sure you take a few minutes to think about your safety when hiking in such hot conditions. We were asked by a girl on the shuttle whether we could give her some of our sunscreen. I sort of think that hiking without adequate sun protection in Australia is about as useful as trying to hike without shoes (which, to be fair, some people do). Wherever you hike, always carry enough water and always have something to protect yourself from the elements (whether that’s sun, snow or somewhere in between). Investing in a water bladder is a great way to make sure you carry plenty of water. It also keeps it easily accessible to you drink little and often throughout your hike.
If you book a permit in advance, it’s possible to camp at Sealer’s Cove before making your way back. That’s if the flies don’t put you off! You can also turn it into a thru-hike by linking up with trails to Refuge Bay and Little Waterloo Bay, both of which have campsites. Wilson’s Promontory was one of the most beautiful national parks we saw in Australia, so if you have time to explore it in more depth, you definitely should.
As for us, we’re now deep in the Red Centre of Australia and far, far away from any beautiful beaches. Posts on our road trip from Adelaide to Uluru will be coming soon!
Have you hiked Wilsons Promontory? Let us know in the comments!
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