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Tidal River as viewed from the summit of Mount Oberon. The settlement of Tidal River is visible in the bottom-right corner.
Looking south from Mount Oberon on Wilsons Promontory towards the southern tip of the Australian mainland.

Wilsons Promontory [1] is a peninsula that forms the southernmost part of the Australian mainland and is located at 39°02′S 146°23′E / 39.033°S 146.383°E / -39.033; 146.383. South Point at 39°08′06″S 146°22′32″E / 39.135°S 146.37556°E / -39.135; 146.37556 is the southernmost tip of Wilsons Promontory and hence of mainland Australia. Located at nearby South East Point, (39°07′S 146°25′E / 39.117°S 146.417°E / -39.117; 146.417) is the Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse.


Human history

Evidence of Aboriginal occupation at Wilsons Promontory dates back at least 6,500 years and the park is highly significant to the Gunai–Kurnai and the Boonerwrung Clans who call it Yiruk and Warnoon respectively.[2]

The first European to see the promontory was George Bass in January 1798.[3] He initially referred to it as "Furneaux's Land" in his diary, believing it to be what Captain Furneaux had previously seen. But on returning to Port Jackson and consulting with Matthew Flinders he was convinced that the location was so different it could not be that land. Bass and Flinders recommended the name Wilsons Promontory to Governor Hunter, honouring Flinders' friend from London Thomas Wilson. Little is known of Wilson except that he was a merchant engaged in trade with Australia.[4]

The promontory has been a National Park, to one degree or another, since 1898. Wilsons Promontory National Park, also known locally as "the Prom", contains the largest coastal wilderness area in Victoria. The site was closed to the public during World War II, as it was used as a commando training ground. The only settlement within Wilsons Promontory is Tidal River which lies 30 km south of the park boundary and is the focus for tourism and recreation. This park is managed by Parks Victoria.[1]

In 2005 a burn started by staff got out of control and burnt 13% of the park, causing the evacuation of campers. [2]

A lightning strike on 8 February 2009 struck the Eastern side in the Cathedral Range near Sealers Cove, and has burned approx. 88Ha to this point. Since the fire is 11km ENE of Tidal River and there is a southerly wind, unless there is a change in direction, Tidal River will be unaffected. As a precautionary measure, Tidal River camping ground was evacuated and closed to the public until further notice.[3] (Update, 16 March 2009 -- The total area finally affected was approximately 25,000 Ha, mostly in the northern part of the Park. A map of the affected area appears at All fires are now under control. It is expected that the Tidal River camping area will be re-opened for Easter, although major walking tracks such as those to Sealers Cove and the Lighthouse will remain closed for the time being.)


Coastal features include expansive intertidal mudflats, sandy beaches and sheltered coves interrupted by prominent headlands and plunging granite cliffs in the south, backed by coastal dunes and swamps.


Tidal River is the main river in Wilsons Promontory. It runs into Norman Bay and swells with the tide (hence the name 'Tidal River'). The river is a very interesting colour, a purple-yellow. This is due to the large amount of tea trees in the area, which stain the water with tannin, giving it a tea-like appearance.


Wilsons Promontory is home to many marsupials, native birds and other creatures. One of the most common marsupials found in the prom is the wombat, which can be found in much of the park (especially around camp-sites where it has been known to invade tents searching for food). The peninsula is also home to kangaroos, wallabies, koalas and emus. Some of the most common birds found on the promontory include crimson rosellas, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos and superb fairy-wrens.


  • Wilsons Promontory Resources, Parks Victoria [4]
  1. ^ "Wilsons Promontory". Gazetteer of Australia. Geoscience Australia. Retrieved 2009-06-14. 
  2. ^ Aboriginal Cultural Heritage, Parkweb Victoria
  3. ^ A Voyage to Terra Australis by Matthew Flinders at Project Gutenberg
  4. ^ The Life of Captain Matthew Flinders by Ernest Scott at Project Gutenberg

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Oceania : Australia : Victoria : Gippsland : South Gippsland : Wilsons Promontory

Wilsons Promontory [1] or "the Prom" as it is known, is the southernmost point of the Australian mainland, located in the South Gippsland region of the state of Victoria. The Prom is protected as the 50,000 hectare Wilsons Promontory National Park and the seas around the southern end are the Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park. There is another, smaller marine national park in the northern area. The park contains 130 km of walking trails and a number of campsites. The hub of the park is Tidal River where there is a store, visitor center and camping.

Get in

The Prom is approached along the South Gippsland Highway, turning off at either Meeniyan or Foster. The park entrance is 224 km from Melbourne and 29 km from Foster. It is another 30 km from the entrance to the park center at Tidal Creek.

If you don’t have your own transport, you can take an organised tour from Melbourne or Phillip Island or take the bus from Foster run by Foster Backpackers Hostel.


Entry to the park for a car is $10.20 (Summer 2008/2009) for 1 day. The sign at the entrance says that a day pass entitles you to be in the park from sunrise to sunset. However no-one is at the exit after sunset checking that people are not leaving too late but with the permit stuck on the inside of your windscreen, clearly showing the time of expiry a quick check by staff might cost you.

Get around

Between dusk and dawn, drive carefully and slowly. Kangaroos and other wildlife will be on the road.

  • Bush camping. There are 6 camp areas in the southern area and all have toilets and a seasonal water supply. The northern area is a declared "Wilderness Area". It has 5 camp areas but toilets are generally not available. There are no camp areas in the central area. Permits are required for overnight hikes and can be booked in advance or on arrival at the park entrance or at the visitor center at Tidal Creek.
  • Hiking. There are a number of short walks, day hikes and multi-day overnight hikes. Fit walkers can make a full-day return hike from Telegraph Saddle to either the lighthouse at South East Point or to South Point.
  • Fishing is permitted in some areas. A recreational fishing license is required. No fishing is permitted in the marine national parks. In some areas line fishing only is permitted.
  • Swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving. Some of the best scuba diving in Victoria is in the marine parks of Wilsons Promontory - deep, clear and full of interesting marine life. The Prom is also popular for snorkeling.
  • Wildlife Coast Cruises, Port Welshpool, 1300 763 739, [2]. A four hour cruise along the northern coast with breathtaking scenery along the sheltered side of the Prom. During June there are regular whale sightings of Humpback and Southern Right Whales during the cruise. Adults $78.  edit


The Tidal River Store sells food and other consumables, petrol, diesel and gas bottle refills.


The Tidal River Store sells food supplies at rip off prices =D and has a café with takeaways. There are free gas barbecues in car parks at Tidal River.

  • Bear Gully Coastal Cottages in Cape Liptrap - We have 4 completely self-contained cottages with 1 and 2 bedrooms. The grounds are spacious making it ideal for couples on romantic getaways as well family holidays. In fact, we are very popular with family reunions and 'Girls Getaways'. Each cottage has been designed for comfort and privacy, and to maximise views of the magnificent and ever changing colours of Wilson's Promontory, and the beautiful Waratah Bay. Bear Gully is a very easy 2 ½ hour drive from Melbourne. Nestled into the South Gippsland coast between Walkerville South and Cape Liptrap Lighthouse. Our Cottages all have direct beach access with ocean views of Waratah Bay to Wilson’s Promontory and the islands of the Glennie and Anser Groups. Please visit our website for more details at or Phone +61 3 5663 2364 | Location: 33 Maitland Court, Cape Liptrap VIC 3956

South East Point

Cottages at the lighthouse have shared bedrooms with 2 or 4 bunks.


Tidal River

There are 480 unpowered campsites and toilets, showers and laundry facilities. Bookings are essential for Christmas and January holidays and popular long weekends.

There are self-contained cabins and huts with 2-6 beds and large group lodges.

Get out

Go out the way you came in. If leaving the Tidal River area soon before sunset on a nice evening, stop at the Whisky Bay carpark, take the short walk to the beach to sit on the dunes and watch the sun set behind Norman Island (actual position of setting sun varies with time of year).

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