Sunday, June 15, 2014

Weekend Camping Trip to Prom Country

Since Stu bought a car, we've been trying to get out of Melbourne almost every weekend. We spent a 3-day weekend down in Prom Country.

Prom country is the southern region of Victoria. It consists of primarily farmlands, coastline and a national park. It's about 3 hours southeast of Melbourne.

Our first stop was Venus Bay.

We were hoping for some good surf, but the onshore winds wouldn't allow for it. The beach was beautiful though - Venus Bay has one of the longest and straightest beaches in Victoria. When you look along the coastline, the beach just disappears into the horizon.

It was quite deserted that day - perhaps because it was chilly, windy, and the surf conditions weren't ideal. We walked along the beach and sat along the sand dunes, watching the whitewash before heading to our camp spot for the weekend.

We stayed at the closest caravan park to Wilsons Promontory National Park. Prom Central Caravan Park in Foster is only 25 minutes away from the entrance of the park.

Our second day was spent exploring the beaches and mountain of Wilsons Promontory National Park. There is only one long road into the park. It winds alongside the western side of the peninsula, but it is rare to see the ocean from the drive, so you definitely need to park the car and walk a kilometer or so to the beaches.

One of the first points of beach access is Darby Beach.

Wide open beach with bordering sand dunes.

Squeaky Beach was next in line. This beach is famous for the sounds the sand makes when you step on it. Didn't sound too squeaky to me... more like crunchy.

Squeaky beach has a section with a maze of large boulders where the kids like to play hide and seek and climb to the top. My favorite part of the beach was the white sands and clear tidal river.

We then parked our car at the national park headquarters and took a shuttle to another part of the park - the base of Mount Oberon. The hike up Mount Oberon is short - about 3.5km - but steep. Because the walk is paved and steadily inclines, I didn't find it too challenging. Definitely worth taking an hour or two out of your day to reach the summit. 

Mount Oberon overlooks Norman Bay and a large tidal river which flows into the Bass Strait. Norman Beach was primarily visited by the weekenders staying at the park. There were hundreds of families and friends staying near the headquarters - quite a festive atmosphere with rows and rows of tents, bicycles, and vehicles.

We decided to take one more trek and visited Cotter's Lake and the neighboring beach. The lake and beach are accessible by the park ranger maintenance road - the path is still quite rugged and grassy. It seemed as if a car hadn't touched the tracks in quite some time.

Beach, north of Darby Beach.

It was a beautiful time of day - the sun was just about to set and no one else was around. This area was quite different than the fern-y paths to the beach and tall trees along the Mt. Oberon walk that we had trekked earlier. We were surrounded by fairly tall grass and then washed up driftwood before reaching the beach.
I get a huge kick out of seeing animals in their natural habitat. I was bummed that all day I had only sighted the tail of wallaby hopping into the bush. But on the walk back from Cotter's Lake, I spotted wildlife! Long necks attached to bird heads lifted from the tall grasses and quite close by, a family of kangaroos turned their heads and looked at us walking along the deserted path.

On the last day, we drove to Melbourne via Philip Island. We surfed for a few hours before heading back to the city.

I would recommend this trip to anyone who has a few days to get out of Melbourne. It was a low-cost weekend with some really great sights.

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