Famous for the Prom, South Gippsland is crammed with equally stunning attractions that warrant an extended stay.
Hiking at Wilsons Promontory is something Outdoor has covered on multiple occasions. As a magazine with an outdoor adventure focus, it would be irresponsible not to have done this. Tempting as it may be to keep this place to ourselves, we’ve decided to bite the bullet and share it with the world.
Often we’ve focused on the overnight hikes on offer through the southern end of the Prom, which has no roads running through it. There are some life-changing treks on offer through here, but lugging a fat backpack around isn’t for everyone, given it demands both your time and a truckload of physical effort.
The good news is, you can still experience the brilliance of the Prom on day hikes, with just the sprightly lightness of a bottle of water and perhaps a bit of local produce weighing you down. The day hikes on offer vary in difficulty and length, so whether or not you pride yourself on racking up kilometres, or you prefer to take it easy, there is sure to be an option for you. A few of the best, walked over a couple of days, will take you through the many different settings the Prom has on offer, showcasing its diversity in full.
Firstly, there’s Vereker Outlook, a 3km inland stroll that lets you experience the banksia and stringbark that defines the region, and gives you a glimpse of sweeping views to the ocean.
Next, there’s the Tongue Point walk, which is 5.6km if you start from Darby Saddle. During the climb, take the detour up to Sparkes Lookout, and appreciate the views to Rodondo Island and Shallow Inlet. As you continue, you can see granite headlands and secluded bays with white sand and clear water, right down to Tongue Point.
Another must-not-miss is Pillar Point, which is deeply rewarding without being overly taxing. This collection of boulders gives you views over Norman and Squeaky Beach on both sides. Accessed from scenic Squeaky Beach, this is 3km one way.
Finally, there’s Sealers Cove, for those who are keen to test themselves. This 9.5km one way walk takes you through dense, lush forest, full of ferns and moss, and then over swamp cradled within mountains, until you reach Sealers Cove, a perfectly isolated spot with calm water and symmetrical headlands on either side.
ON YOUR BIKE
These hikes are not to be missed. But even then, they only show one side of the multi-faceted diamond that is South Gippsland. To properly experience the region and all it has to offer, you need much longer than a day, or a weekend. Realistically, you need a number of weeks, and yet even then, you could keep going. If you have a week or two, then that’s great. If you don’t, then at least you know the time you do spend there is going to be overflowing with experiences.
If you’ve done a day walk, you might want to take the weight off your feet. Or, perhaps it’s the little tackers who need a change of activity. In any case, the Great Southern Rail Trail and the Grand Ridge Rail Trail are awaiting the wheels of your bicycle. Both of these follow along the path of old railway lines.
The Great Southern Rail Trail spans 72km, from Leongatha inland through to Port Welshpool on the ocean. This is one for those who love their landscapes, as it passes through gently undulating farmland, swampy wetlands, fern-filled gullies and open bush. It also passes through a string of quaint towns, each with unique history and produce, such as Koonwarra, Meeniyan, Fish Creek, Foster, Toora and Welshpool. These towns give you the opportunity to break up the ride into smaller, more achievable chunks that are better suited to youngsters or the less extremely inclined.
Once you reach Port Welshpool, perhaps with slightly shaky legs, you might be daunted by the prospect of the Port Welshpool long jetty. This structure spans over 800 metres, reaching deep into the water, towards Little Snake Island. Originally constructed for oceangoing industry, it has since abandoned this to become the town’s icon, a place to walk along or fish off of.
SEE THE SIGHTS
We would have punned this sub-header as “sea the sights”, except for the fact that many of the beautiful things to see in this region are inland.
The best view inland would probably have to be Agnes Falls. These falls drop 59 metres, making them the tallest single span falls in the entire state. On top of all the walking you’ve previously done you may be glad to hear it’s but a 200 metre stroll from the carpark until you can see them.
Back at the beach, Cape Liptrap Coastal Park boasts a spectacular coastline and an interesting history. Long before European settlement, indigenous Australians resided along this coast, and remnant middens still mark their presence today. Later on, limestone miners mined from the cliffs, leaving the ruins of kilns behind them. These ruins can be glimpsed along the 750m one way Lime Burners Walk near Walkerville, where they’re beautifully integrated with the rugged hills and blue swells.
The Cape Liptrap lighthouse is worth checking out, too. Originally constructed in 1913, the structure overlooks a crumbling, jagged ridge that slopes down to the rough sea, with a few seals down the bottom for good measure.
EAT AND DRINK
You’re bound to build up a ravenous hunger and an insatiable thirst on your South Gippsland adventures. Good news is, you can rejuvenate with local produce, produced with passion and experience to satisfy your appetites.
There’s the Blue Tree Honey Farm, with its local bees working around the clock. All those cattle you’ll spot munching in the paddocks on the rail trails, you can taste a little bit of their work at Prom Country Cheese, which specialises in the sheep variety. Collecting such produce together is the Meeniyan Store, which keeps it exclusively local, with a focus on organic.
These are just a few of the delicious offerings to wind down from your adventures with. If one in your crowd is a fancy pants, there’s several wineries, such as Lucinda Estate and Red Door Estate, too.
YOUR NEXT HOLIDAY
Every person or couple or family has a limited amount of time and money. Spending both of these things well is vital. Given we’ve got little of both, we’re best off making sure these resources go far, by making sure that in exchange for our time and money we get as much in return as possible. This is not just wise in economical theory, it’s also wise when it comes to experiencing the outdoors.
Heading to Gippsland, you not only get to experience a diverse mix of activities, you get to experience them without making a big dent in your wallet. All the natural wonders are free!
And, being so close to Melbourne, you make sure you don’t whittle away your hours getting there. It’s under two hours from the city centre to Leongatha, and more like three hours right down to Tidal River, the end of the road at Wilsons Prom.
Then, once you’ve arrived in the region, everything is pretty close together, saving you those time-consuming drives in between.
So whether you’re a lone wolf, or have a few adventurous mates, an adventurous partner, or an adventurous family, South Gippsland is a place to seriously contemplate spending your time off.
For more information, head to www.visitpromcountry.com.au