Up early and on the road, heading for Wilsons Promontory, aka The Prom, the southernmost tip of mainland Australia. It sprawls out into Bass Strait, pointing toward the final bit of Oz: Tasmania. But it is a destination in its own right, not just because it is “land’s end” for the big island.
It was a glorious day and the drive east and then south was delightful. We passed a few places I knew from my first visit to Australia—through Tooradin, past the Koo-we-rup Swamp, and along the South Gippsland Highway—but then southward, farther than I had been before. Signs of civilization began to diminish. Emus began to appear as we continued on.
In three hours, we were entering Wilsons Promontory National Park and marveling at the beauty of the wild, rugged location. The granite mountains rise up out of the sea, and waves of vegetation overhang the roads. Plants surrounded us: banksia, melaleuca, eucalyptus, wildflowers in stunning abundance. Birds were everywhere: silver gulls and Pacific gulls, wattle birds, superb blue wrens, larks and magpies, crimson rosellas, striped thrushes, and more, some in great flocks. I was delighted beyond speech.
Judy and Geoff took me to all their favorite spots. We started with a long stroll on the long, curving beach at Norman Bay. There were even more birds here: sooty oyster catchers, crested terns, and more gulls. The terns in particular were amusing, scurrying about, staying just ahead of the waves that gently lapped the sand. On the far side of the beach, a trail led us up into the forested hills for even better views of the area’s beauty.
After a couple of hours of wandering, it was time for lunch. Judy had packed a lovely picnic, and Geoff drove us to a perfect spot for our meal. The thing that made dining something of a challenge was the abundance of birds. They were all very interested in our food, especially the crimson rosellas—though the gulls were pretty bold, too. Gulls walked across the picnic tables, but the rosellas perched on our arms and shoulders, to see if they could snatch a bite. A lovely little wattle bird simply looked at us wistfully until Geoff offered it a bit of sugar, which it happily lapped up. It did make dining difficult, but it was also very entertaining.
After lunch, we spent hours exploring. At Tidal River, in addition to admiring the beauty, I collected a couple of seashells and a casuarina nut. Squeaky Beach was remarkable for its huge boulders, but even more so for the fact that the white quartz sand actually squeaks underfoot as you walk across it. Oberon Bay, Picnic Bay, stunning beauty on all hands, as well as increasing amounts of wildlife, as the daylight began to fade. Wombats and kangaroos were grazing everywhere there was level ground and grass.
The sunset was spectacular, gold and pink and lavender over the water. But that meant it was time to leave. We drove out of the park as dusk began to fade into darkness. I could see the Southern Cross for much of our drive home. It is a sight that always pleases me.
We arrived back home by 8:30. Judy had prepared a lovely soup in advance, so all she had to do was heat it up, rather than cook a meal. Then a glass of port and some conversation before heading off to bed.
For those who might want more information, as well as a few great photos, here’s the link to the Wilsons Promontory National Park website: https://www.parks.vic.gov.au/places-to-see/parks/wilsons-promontory-national-park