We have just returned from my first ever, real life camping experience at Wilsons Promonotory National Park.
When I say first, what I mean is first time actually being outdoorsy and saucepan-cooking-camping.
I’ve stayed in tents at festivals but I wouldn’t call that ‘camping’, that was more like seeking refuge under a poorly assembled, leaking shelter. As a camping novice and spending two nights in the wilderness, I feel I fared rather well and once again one of Australia’s landmarks has stolen another piece of my heart.
Last Saturday we got our kit together, tent check, gas stove check, blow up mattress check, lights (very important) check, wedged everything into our trusty car and set off on our way to the national park for a weekend of wilderness camping.
A bit of background for you: Wilsons Promonotory is a 50,512 hectare National Park 3 hours outside of Melbourne. It’s located at the southern most point of Australia and is lined by the Southern Ocean. It’s Victoria’s biggest and most popular national park with over 400,000 people visiting a year. It’s not hard to see why, it has enormous granite mountains, sandy beaches, rocky coastlines, forest AND rainforest.
We stayed in Tidal River Camp Site which is located on the coast of the park. From our pitch we could hear the waves rolling in at night (aaaah) and the sky was dusted with thousands of stars due to the lack of light pollution.
I always knew camping in Australia would be easier than in England. For starters it didn’t rain or even threaten it once and the temperature wasn’t sub-zero at night.
However, we did have other things to take into account such as making sure the tent door was zipped up through fear of animal visitors (you don’t have to worry about a hungry wombat or a deadly snake at home in the New Forest).
This place is teeming with animals. There are 30 types of mammal creeping around the park at any one time, including kangaroos, wombats, koalas, possums and bats. That’s without mentioning the ever present parrots, emus, lizards and bugs.
One of the many things I love about this park and throughout Australia, is the respect and preservation of all its wildlife. First and foremost the park is home to them and us visitors slot in and make sure we respect that.
This fluffy little barrel rolled out of the bush to say hello and check us over for edible treats.
We spent the majority of our weekend admiring the beaches and hiking on the many walking trails. On Saturday we stomped (alternating between hiking and struggling) from Tidal Bay, up and over a mountain to Squeaky Beach (the sand squeaks when you walk on it). We detoured to a trail known as Pillar Point which leads to the tip of a rocky peninsula separating Tidal Bay and Squeaky Beach. The panoramic views from Pillar Point were breathtaking and stretched for miles over acres of tree filled, green outback and blue ocean.
I must admit this isn’t my usual way to spend a Saturday afternoon. I would probably, by the evening, be a few wines in, eating terrible food, perusing all manners of social media and having done very little in the way of exercise and it was SO REFRESHING to do something different.
I was always quite frightened of the prospect of camping, let alone camping in Aus. What happens when an axe murderer comes out of the bushes at night and your phone signal isnt working? Not only do you have to worry about THAT but also the enormous number of weird animals coming into your tent whilst you sleep.
Anyone naïve enough to believe that camping in Australia is unsafe and that you are out in the wilderness all alone (i.e. me) let me reassure you that this, thankfully, does not have to be the case. Park Rangers were on hand to give advice and the fellow campers on our site were more than happy to lend us newbies a helping hand.
I would also like to point out throughout our camping experience, I had full mobile phone signal. For someone quite sure she is within minutes of being bitten by a deadly animal, this was hugely reassuring. Bravo Australia. .
A lot can be said for waking up, scrambling out of your tent and breathing in the fresh morning air. Stepping out of your normal routine and doing something different, being outside and taking in the natural landscape is good for the soul. I found it very therapeutic.
Despite initially being clueless and way out of my comfort zone, I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in this BEAUTIFUL national park.
Wilsons Promonotory in all its unspoilt and natural glory literally took my breath away, thanks again Australia for a bloody ripper time!