Walk of the Month: Wilsons Promontory (Victoria) – South/East circuit

Sealers Cove (Wilsons Prom Southern Circuit)

“In wild splendour the high granite peninsula of Wilsons Promontory pushes into the cold waters of Bass Strait to form the most southerly point of the Australian mainland, 225 kilometres south-east of Melbourne. In a relatively small area this national park protects an extraordinarily diverse range of environments: wild heathlands and swamps, moist pockets of rainforest, granite mountain tops, and dunes and seashores.”

Jocelyn Burt, “The World of Wilsons Promontory”

Wilsons Promontory (or just ‘the Prom’) is probably the most popular national park in Victoria and one of the most beautiful. A circuit around the southern part of the prom is one of Victoria’s classic bushwalks.

The walk begins at the Telegraph Saddle carpark below Mt Oberon. Generally you can park here, but on busy spring and summer weekends the road to the carpark may be closed in which case you will need to take the (free) courtesy bus from the Norman Bay carpark at Tidal River (leaves every 30 minutes). The circuit takes in Waterloo bay, Refuge Cove and Sealers Cove, and can be completed in 1, 2 (camping at Refuge Cove) or 3 (camping at Little Waterloo Bay and Sealers Cove) days, clockwise or anti-clockwise. I once did the walk in a day, but don’t recommend this unless you are in training for something else, as at 37km it is a long and tough day and you will have no time to rest and enjoy the many sights and locations along the way. My recommendation is to make it an overnight 2 day walk, camping at the lovely Refuge Cove, and travelling anti-clockwise to get the road bash (along Telegraph Track) over with at the start of the walk. Note that you need a permit if you intend to camp overnight – these can be obtained from the park office on the day you start, but to avoid disappointment if the campsites are already booked up, the permits can also be booked in advance by calling Parks Victoria (if you do this, you can also pick up the permits at the office at the park entrance).

From Telegraph Saddle carpark, take the 4wd Telegraph Track southwards. The track descends briefly and then stays relatively flat for the 6.5km to the junction with the Waterloo Bay walking track. Take this track almost due East to Waterloo Bay and its magnificent white sands. At Waterloo Bay the track turns north and continues just to the left of the beach before joining the beach just south of Freshwater creek. To continue along the track, cross the creek (this can usually done without getting your feet wet by hopping across the rocks) and then locate the track, fairly well hidden amongst the boulders at the northern tip of the beach. The track climbs steeply initially but soon descends into Little Waterloo Bay camping area. From here the track continues to hug the coast and proceeds east and then north-east to North Waterloo Bay.

From here, the track moves inland and climbs towards Kersop Peak (accessed from a track that branches south-east from the main track). The track continues northwards and descends into Refuge Cove, and the overnight camping area.

Telegraph Track Waterloo Bay On the trail from Waterloo Bay to Refuge Cove Cove Creek at Refuge Cove

From the overnight hikers camping area drop down to the beach and continue to the northernmost point where the track ascends inland and climbs northwards to a lookout near Horn Point. From here the track turns westwards providing a superb view of five mile beach to the north, before descending into Sealers Cove. Passing through the overnight camping area, the path descends to the beach where it is necessary to ford Sealers Creek. It is wise to try and avoid arriving here at high-tide as the creek will be very deep at this time (the park offices at the entrance and at Tidal River have a list of low and high-tide times) and potentially very difficult to cross. We arrived a couple of hours after low-tide at which time it was still only calf-deep (but very cold!).

After crossing the creek, the path is along the beach for a kilometre or so, before a signpost is reached (just before the remains of an old jetty) pointing to the track inland. The track continues west through Sealers Swamp (this whole section is now along boardwalks), an attractive area where occasional shafts of sunlight break through the dense foliage. Eventually, the boardwalks stop and the track then ascends moderately but relentlessly to Windy Saddle, a small grassy area and a great spot for a final break before that last section of the walk back to Telegraph Saddle.

Looking towards Five Mile Beach Track through Sealers Swamp Path between Sealers Cove and Windy Saddle Windy Saddle

Walk date: Nov 10/11, 2007
Time/level: 2 days moderate (around 5 hours each day)
Map: VICMAP Wilsons Promontory Special (1:50,000), Parks Victoria Parks Notes
My rating: A+, One of Victoria’s best

Bushwalking – Mt. Feathertop (via Champion and Bungalow Spurs)

Emerging onto the Razorback from Champion Spur

This route provides a bit more variety, especially for walkers who have already been up and down the Bungalow Spur, while still remaining a circuit walk and thus avoiding a car shuffle.

The route could be done in either direction – we did the walk up Champion Spur and down Bungalow Spur. Either way, the route starts and ends in Harrietville. The track up Champion Spur starts in the same place as the Bon Accord Spur, before splitting and heading south-east while the Bon Accord Spur track continues south. Following an initially well formed fire track, the track slowly deteriorates before disappearing completely about 1km or so shy of the Razorback ridge. The 2003 bushfires swept through this whole area, and their effects are still apparent; the scrub had started to grow back strongly when we did this walk however, so that last km or so before the ridge was rather hard going. Then, as we reached the Razorback, we experienced a brief summer snow shower – a reminder that the weather in this region can change fast.

Once the Razorback ridge is joined, a distinct track continues north, passing the track down Diamantina Spur to the right, and then about 1.5km further on, the Bungalow Spur track to the left. This marks the start of the descent, but the summit is still another 1.5km north-east along the razorback (passing the north-west spur to the left on its way to the summit).

This walk can be done as either a hard one-day walk (at around 25km it’s a tough day) or as a moderate overnight walk, with camp at the (excellent) Federation Hut site on the Bungalow Spur just down from the junction with the Razorback. If you’re doing this as an overnight walk then note that the first day is still pretty tough if you ascend via Champion Spur (easier if you go clockwise – ie. up Bungalow and down Champion). If you’re not sure about walking in untracked bush, then an easier option is up and down the Bungalow Spur, or if you can organise a car shuffle, along the Razorback from Mt Hotham, and then down the Bungalow Spur (a superb walk).

Walk date: Champion Spur section Dec 27, 2004, Bungalow Spur and Summit section, numerous times, the last on April 7, 2007
Time/level: 1 day hard (allow 7-9 hours), about 25km, 2 days moderate
Map: Bogong Alpine Area, Outdoor Leisure Map (1:50,000)
My rating: A, a lesser used but worthwhile route

On Champion Spur Snow Gum on the The Razorback Summer snow on The Razorback Summit of Mt Feathertop