Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

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Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby JimminyJim » Sat 21 Apr, 2018 9:40 am

Hi everyone,

Long time lurker, first time poster.

First I'd like to say this is a terrific site. It has helped me immensely choosing gear and most importantly, the trip reports to help pick where to go next!

I found the trip reports on the Prom Northern Circuit extremely helpful in planning my most recent solo hike, so I thought I would register to do the same. Hopefully someone finds it useful. These are just the notes that I made for Parks Vic as I went along. They ask that hikers on this route please report back to them on the track condition and water supply as they don't get up there very often themselves.

I did the circuit anti-clockwise in three nights/four days (hoped for three days - but that would have been flogging myself after Chinaman's Swamp). April 17th-20th.

Camped at:
Night 1 - Johnny Suey Cove
Night 2 - Tin Mine Cove
Night 3 - Lower Barry Creek

1. Five mile road to Johnny Suey Cove

Water at five mile beach was brackish/salty in the estuary. Wasn't sure if there was a fresh stream nearby so continued through to Johnny Suey. Climb up track on other side of estuary quite overgrown. Descent to cove much clearer. Regular tape was present all the way from five mile beach to JS and track easy enough to follow.

The area available to pitch a tent at Johnny Suey was very small. I expect you would be lucky to get any more than three one man tents side by side.

Evidence of a recent camp fire here :roll:

There was some flow from both streams at JS. Very brown with tannins and a bit mucky tasting but OK.

2. Lighthouse point to Chinaman's Long Beach

Some hikers seem to be using the unlocked metal box at the bottom of the lighthouse as a rubbish dump.

Much of the eastern part of this track(lighthouse point end) is heavily overgrown. Often dragging my feet along the track without being able to see them because of all the foliage. However, I only lost the track once and backtracked to reconnect. I did use the GPS a couple of times to check that I was still on the track and not an animal trail! A couple of trees down required a bypass. There is no visible flagging tape, and only very occasional reflectors on trees for the entire track. The Western half of the track is quite clear and easy walking.

Track from Chinamens long beach to Tin mine cove is clear and easy walking.

Tin mine camping area is much more generous than JS.

Creek at tin mine cove is running. Heavily colored with tannins and microbial blue oils.

There was a couple of other people boat camping on the beach.

3. Chinaman long beach to Lower Barry.

Swamp was completely dry. Nowhere to refill water until Lower Barry.

Track started out well for first few hundred metres then became progressively harder to follow. No flagging tape. The next white pole is impossible to spot from the last, usually due to growth obstructing the view. Some of the more sturdy orange poles that come later in the track were knocked down or obscured from view until almost on top of them. Lost the path many, many times and bush bashed to find the path many times. At one point I climbed a tree to find the next white pole 50m on the other side of some imprenetrable thicket!

The last 2.5km or so was quite clear and new flagging tape had been recently placed quite regularly, so the track was easy to find.

Took me 5 hours for the 6km from the beach to camp.

Clear running water at Lower Barry Camp. Clean and plenty of space.

Disappointing to see some rubbish in the middle of nowhere during this section in the swamp wilderness zone (disposable drink bottles and tuna can). I am always confused when I see rubbish left in a place of natural beauty, by people that supposedly come to experience the place because of its beauty and lack of rubbish! :? :evil: Anyway...

An excellent hike and I will definitely be doing it again, but I'd probably not attempt the swamp again until some track clearing had been done. I can't imagine doing it wet :shock:
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby Singe » Sun 22 Apr, 2018 10:08 am

Nice report, I'm looking forward to getting back and having time to do the loop!

There's a little stream on the northern side five mile creek, just a little upstream from where you cross. It was flowing freely when I was there last September, but it had been raining (a group I met who were doing the loop clockwise said the swamp was knee-deep and very difficult to stay on track!).

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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby JimminyJim » Sun 22 Apr, 2018 4:57 pm

Ah,thanks for the creek tip, Singe!
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby neilmny » Sun 22 Apr, 2018 5:38 pm

Good work JimminyJim great to see one more active forumite.
It's people posting reports on their trips and observations that really make this site the great resource it is. Well done.
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Mon 23 Apr, 2018 8:41 am

I have walked the whole N. Prom. circuit three times over Easter 2015,2016 and 2017 and found water every time at the right places. It helps if you know where to look and have a pump up water filter for all water sources. The route can be hard to find and the track clearing work is sporadic so that one section may become easier to walk on and another becomes overgrown /reverts to a scrub bash.
Last edited by paidal_chalne_vala on Fri 27 Apr, 2018 10:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby JimminyJim » Mon 23 Apr, 2018 8:18 pm

neilmny wrote:Good work JimminyJim great to see one more active forumite.
It's people posting reports on their trips and observations that really make this site the great resource it is. Well done.


Cheers Neil, glad to be able to contribute
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby JohnR » Mon 08 Oct, 2018 1:58 pm

Hi an update on this walk.

I fastpacked it yesterday. Took 13 hours.

Chineman swamp is currently waist deep.

Parts of the track from Chineman Beach to Lower Barry Campsite are heavily overgrown. It would be extremely difficult without GPS.

In numerous other places the track is also overgrown (eg first 3kms from the lighthouse) but generally easy to follow.

Plenty of snakes. I encountered 6 all up. Seemed to be all Tiger Snakes. General rule applied: water plus sunshine = snakes. Was also a month with an "r" in it.

If you do this walk then gaiters and long pants are a good option.

All up a great challenge and lets hope they keep it as a wilderness area.
Last edited by JohnR on Mon 08 Oct, 2018 3:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby andrewp » Mon 08 Oct, 2018 2:43 pm

Thanks JohnR
Can you comment on the water situation at the camp sites? Maybe you didn't go up as far as Tin Mine, but you may have noticed if the creek at Johnny Souey was flowing.
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby JohnR » Mon 08 Oct, 2018 3:07 pm

Yes didn't go into Tin Mine.

Johnny Souey flowing strongly. Also a good flow at Lower Barry Campsite.

Cheers,

John
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby Joris » Tue 13 Nov, 2018 9:13 am

Hi folks,

I will be doing this walk as part of a bird survey programme in the next week - will report back on conditions. Sure hoping the water level in Chinaman's Swamp has dropped a bit by now!
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby katcal » Tue 20 Nov, 2018 8:51 pm

Joris wrote:Hi folks,

I will be doing this walk as part of a bird survey programme in the next week - will report back on conditions. Sure hoping the water level in Chinaman's Swamp has dropped a bit by now!


Looking forward to your report - I am hoping to do it in the first week of December!
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Sun 25 Nov, 2018 3:38 pm

The swamp at Chinaman's creek will still be a wet swamp until it dries out over summer . It will be character building to visit it before January . Take a head net for the insects!!
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby Tino B » Thu 29 Nov, 2018 8:54 am

paidal_chalne_vala wrote:The swamp at Chinaman's creek will still be a wet swamp until it dries out over summer . It will be character building to visit it before January . Take a head net for the insects!!


Planning on doing Northern Circuit 1-12-2018 to 3-12-2018 with a mate - let's hope we have the character for Chinaman's Creek, head nets packed.

There wasn't much recent info in the track condition reports when I spoke to an officer at the Wilson's Prom Park office on 27-11-2018, but she did say "ooh, the water could be neck deep in places, and there will be a lot of snakes around this time of year"...

Will provide a full report.
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby katcal » Thu 29 Nov, 2018 8:41 pm

I spoke to someone on Tuesday and they said thigh deep to me... neck deep seems... impossible? I am heading out on Monday.
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Sat 01 Dec, 2018 7:20 pm

The scary thing will not just snakes a plenty in the tall waist to head high grass but water snakes will be in the swamp.
I think if you have never walked the Northern Prom circuit ,then doing it for what could be the first time waist to neck deep in swamp water may be just too much like torture .
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby Tino B » Sun 23 Dec, 2018 12:42 pm

Belated update for circuit completed 30-11-2018 to 2-12-2018

Chinaman Swamp
Crossed Chinaman swamp at 7:00am on 2-12-2018. There is some standing water about 10cm deep on sections of the track before and after the 2 major crossings. The crossings of the swamp are each no deeper than 75cm or more than 50m wide. The bottom of each crossing is quite flat, with few obstacles.

Throughout the section from Chinaman Long Beach to well past the swamp, the narrow footpad is overgrown, is not visible in many places, intersects with many animal trails and is easy to lose. The white and orange poles and marking tape are all sporadic and difficult to see, but some do appear at critical changes in direction. Although map navigation is possible in fair weather, some of the section between the beach and Lower Barry would be difficult to navigate when visibility was low - especially if you hit the wide sections of deep water off the trail. We began in overcast and misty conditions with persistent rain and 50-80kph winds. We referred to the GPX file for the Northern Circuit from TrailHiking.com.au on a few occasions to relocate the track after we had veered off on an animal trail.

There has been some rain in recent days but I doubt that it will have had a significant impact on water depth. There has been further rain on 14 to 16 of December, about 35mm. My guess is that this rain would be keeping the swamp topped up rather than increasing the level

Water
The creeks that cross 5 Mile road all have collectable water - Cow , Barry, Chinaman. The flows varied from quite weak to medium, with stained but otherwise good water. If you fancy a lighter load up the starting hill you could collect at these but they are all quite close to the carpark.

Barry Creek Campsite - strong flow of good water. Pity this site is so near the start.

5 Mile Beach Campsite - water is from a spring in the side of the hill across Miranda Creek and about 20-30m left of the marked trailhead to Johnny Souey Cove. The flow is not very strong but the water tastes ok when filtered.

Johnny Souey Cove - camped here first night and collected stained and ok tasting water several times from the creek at the southern end of the beach. Easiest access to collect water is via the beach by climbing up the boulders in the creek to a clear stream of water. Access to the creek from the campsite is overgrown.

Johnny Souey to Tin Mine Cove - no apparent/easily collectable water on the track.

Tin Mine Cove - the water was stained, full of silt and had a little funk to it. Make sure to access the creek from the campsite on top of the ridge rather than going upstream from the beach. Upstream from the beach means traversing swampy ground alongside the creek - it's 6 inch deep mud that stinks. Another reason to avoid walking upstream from the beach to collect water is that a group of boat campers created a latrine 1 metre from the creek without any attempt to bury their waste.

We each still had 2 litres of water we had carried in and some collected water so did not need any more from Tin Mine to the 5 Mile car park.

Chinaman Swamp - ample, heavily stained water.

Lower Barry - good flow of heavily stained water. There was some swampy funk in the air at Lower Barry and some areas adjacent to the creek seemed stagnant.

We both started with 4 x 1 litre bottles of tap water and an empty 1 litre Swayer bladder. We mainly used the tap water to rehydrate our freezer bag meals for 2 nights and to make a couple of coffees and hot chocolates each day. We used the bladders to collect drinking water from 5 Mile Beach, Johnny Souey and Tin Mine Cove. Using a good quality, low/zero sugar hydration tab is a good way to mask any bad taste in filtered water - look for a hydration tab that has low/zero sugar and is 1 tab per 500ml.

Tracks and navigation
5 Mile Car Park to 5 Mile Beach - all management road or beach

5 Mile Beach to Johnny Souey Cove - clearly marked trail starts on the northern bank of Miranda Creek and crosses Monkey Point headland . There has been recent clearing and there is an abundance of pink tape.

Johnny Souey Cove to Lighthouse Point - Johnny Souey beach is an easy stroll at all tide levels. We rock hopped around 3 Mile Point at high tide in benign conditions with 9kg packs - it was fun and only required a few scrambles - wet weather or a lot of spray would make this dangerous in places. The track on 3 Mile Point seemed clearly marked when we met it. 3 Mile beach is quite narrow and meets a bank of eroded scrub and banksias that varies from 50-150cm. At high tide there is no dry beach and walking on the fragile bank is not always clear (or responsible). Commit to getting wet feet and jumping on a banksia stump if a big wave comes in.

Lighthouse Point - you can see the light station from the beach and there appears to be several ways to approach it. We continued on until we were below/east of the light station where there was a V shaped gully. There is some scrambling involved to a buoy with a rope attached near the top of the steep slope below the light station.

Lighthouse Point to Chinaman Long Beach - the track starts out quite clear and provides several nice spots for tiger snakes to sun themselves. As the track makes its way trough the saddle between Mt Hunter and Mt Margaret, it becomes quite overgrown and is sometimes not visible even if you are on it. The foot pad remains but is intersected by many animal tracks which can lead you astray. The track maintains the same heading from the light station until you are between Hunter and Margaret, turns left and then loops to the right. Once you are past the saddle, the track opens up, markers start to appear and its a 4km downhill to Chinaman Long beach.

Chinaman Long Beach to Tin Mine Cove - the beach is wide at low tide but a high tide will have you walking on soft, tiring sand, but thankfully the beach section is short. There are 2 choices from the beach to Tin Mine Cove. We rock hopped around the coast at low tide and took the track on our return. The coastal route required a few scrambles and was quite long, the track is well-cleared and easy walking.

Tin Mine Cove to Chinaman Swamp - Chinaman Long Beach seems very long at 6:00am, at high tide, on soft sand, with gusts of wind up to 80kph and in driving rain - our consolation was that it wasn't weather for snakes.

Chinaman Swamp - see above

Chinaman Swamp to Lower Barry - as you approach Lower Barry, the track becomes more distinct, is marked with tape and a few poles and is easy to follow.

Lower Barry to 5 Mile Road - clear track in most places.
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby 8r0wnd09 » Fri 11 Jan, 2019 2:33 am

Outstanding report Tino B, I’m doing the circuit in a couple of weeks so thanks for the detailed info!
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