TRAVEL: WILSONS PROMONTORY, VICTORIA
Wilsons Promontory, the southernmost tip of mainland Australia hosts a bevy of treats for the Melbourne-based weekend warrior.
Feel like disappearing off the radar this weekend? Melbournites need only drive two hours to find some serious seclusion. The southeastern coastline of Victoria is filled with staggering cliffs, sandy beaches and picture-perfect campgrounds. Families, camper convoys and solo travellers based in the big smoke would be crazy to overlook this living postcard.
DAY 1 - FISH CREEK
You'd think it'd be reasonable to conclude that Fish Creek is a fishing destination, wouldn't you? Well, don't be fooled, because its name is misleading.
CTA editor Emma Ryan lured me in when she said, "Hey Jack, we're sending you to Fish Creek!" My eyes lit up and I actually did a little jump for joy. I assembled my fishing tackle, planned what lures to pack and started my research. What they didn't tell me was that Fish Creek is actually a small town without a bloody creek in sight!
Although many people see the area purely as the gateway to Wilsons Promontory, the town itself has a certain sleepy charm. From Melbourne, motor southeast on the South Gippsland Highway, crank up the tunes and within two hours or so, you're there.
The area acts as a great basecamp to prep your gear and load up on supplies before going bush. Head to Fish Creek on a Friday arvo after work, stay overnight at the Fish Creek Hotel and then get up early and head to Cape Liptrap NP in the morning.
The thriving hub of the little-town-with-no-fish is its damn fine watering hole, the 'Fishy Pub'. A huge fish lies flat on the roof, an inquisitive pig guards the car park and the chicken-in-pyjamas are so big that eating one might give you a heart attack. Now that's my kind of meal. Although there is no real campground at Fish Creek, the pub offers cheap accommodation with a warm bed and piping hot shower.
DAY 2 - CAPE LIPTRAP
Fish Creek wouldn't be the last stop on our itinerary with a
misleading name - Cape Liptrap is home to Bear Gully Campground,
which should really be called Gully Campground.
There wasn't a bear to be found! In fact, we had to bring our own - CTA contributor John 'Bear' Willis.
Seriously though, if you consider pit toilets to be a luxury and are pretty self-sufficient, this is a great campsite. It's simple and scenic, which in my opinion is exactly what camping is about. Just remember to BYO toilet paper and firewood.
If you fancy a meander, take the Point Smythe Walk. It leads you 6km across sand dunes, and takes approximately two hours to complete. Budding historians should head for Cape Liptrap Lighthouse, built in 1913 and still in operation today. At Walkerville South you'll find the ancient Lime Kilns that look like a fallen castle. Finally, don't forget a fishing rod because the icy blue waters of Bass Strait are home to some serious salmon and maybe a snapper or two if you're lucky, so remember the pipis.
DAY 3 - SHALLOW INLET
Just over 30km from Bear Gully Campground lies Shallow Inlet, a great spot for a day trip or an afternoon picnic. This is a great spot to cruise along the beach and enjoy the scenery. If you loaded the tinnie on the roof like we did you'll be able to launch it here, but be wary of the large sand flats, which are quite shallow. The light gradient of the flats means that the tide comes in quick smart, so if you're leaving your car for the afternoon make sure you park it up high. Look for the high tide mark or creep up the dunes.
So next time you've got a weekend free, why not head down to Cape Liptrap and show your kids how to hunt for pipis (or buy them from the servo). Either way, you're guaranteed some great quality time breathing in the briny southern air and enjoying the pace of this spectacular coast.
- Fish Creek is 168km southeast of Melbourne, via the South Gippsland Highway.
- Visit www.fishcreekhotel.com.au for more information on the Fish Creek Hotel.
- Bear Gully Campground is within the Cape Liptrap Coastal Park, and is free - first in best dressed. Visit www.parkweb.vic.gov.au or phone 13 1963 for more information.
Originally published in Camper Trailer Australia #59, November 2012.