Struggle and serenity: hiking Wilson’s Promontory, Australia

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A springtime hike in Wilson’s Promontory is not for the faint of heart. Although we encountered nothing like the poisonous spiders or deadly sharks one might imagine in The Land Down Under, our 35-kilometre hiking circuit along the southernmost tip of mainland Australia involved its fair share of challenges. Flooded walkways. Higher-than-average tides that necessitated unzipping our cargo pants, unlacing our boots and wading through icy waters. An oppossum sampling our dinner. Heavy packs on tired backs. A flooded tent and soggy sleeping bag. Even a leech on my ankle. Me, the girl who was terrified of leeches beyond reasonable levels as child- I guess I’m growing up :’)

The weather presented its own challenges as we battled gusty winds, hail, rain, mist, and hot sunshine. Victoria’s notoriously unpredictable weather had us constantly removing or adding layers as the weather flip-flopped!

“If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes- it will change.”  This had never before rung so true.

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One of the bays is a popular stopping point for boaters, and at some people began to carve their ship’s names into wooden planks. It’s a treat for anyone with a vivid imagination!

Such a trek might sound like an experience from hell, but for three tough, nature-loving go-getters, it was quite an experience.

It doesn’t hurt that the scenery is absolutely gorgeous- from lush, verdant temperate rainforests…

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To gorgeous coastlines and empty beaches…

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Fragrant, vegetation-rich hillsides…

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Unique Xanthorrhea australis (grass trees!)

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And of course, stunning coastal views.

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Wilson’s Promontory is located as far south as one can go on mainland Australia, in Victoria’s Gippsland region. It’s well-worth a visit, and three-day overnight hikes are far from one’s only option. Many Aussies go to enjoy a more leisurely camping experience, or a shorter day hike. Parks Victoria’s website is full of suggestions, including essential information for those considering overnight hikes of their own.Map

I’d wanted to visit Wilson’s Prom the entire time I was living in Melbourne, but it seemed unlikely due to its distance from the city and the need for hiking gear and a vehicle, both of which I lacked. Through a sheer stroke of luck I was able to join two university friends- with the aid of Alison’s car and an extensive collection of hiking gear from Holly’s family- on my last days before I flew to Tasmania. I am forever grateful to have had that experience, and I’d love to plan a return visit someday!

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There’s nothing quite like standing on a beach at the edge of the world…

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Helping a starfishy friend back to the sea.

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These rocks reminded me of the carved heads on Easter Island.

Setting up camp in the midst of pure nature, knowing you only have your fellow hikers to rely on.

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Did the three of us persevere in our battle with the elements, wild critters, and ourselves (as if we could truly separate the three)? I can vividly remember those last two kilometres as I trudged uphill against intermittent rain and wind gusts, ignoring my protesting legs and back. Holly had pulled her knee slightly, and Alison was battling a few fierce blisters.

Did we make it? You bet we did! That sense of pride and accomplishment will linger with us for a long time. Reflecting back on my seven-month stint of exploring Australia and Southeast Asia, this stands out as one of the highlights of my trip.
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What is your favourite experience in nature- be it hiking, horseback riding, canoeing, or whatever floated your boat (or kayak)?

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4 thoughts on “Struggle and serenity: hiking Wilson’s Promontory, Australia

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