Wilsons Prom - Tidal River to Lightstation

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Wilsons Prom - Tidal River to Lightstation

Postby Pongo » Tue 14 Aug, 2012 2:20 pm

Date: August 2012
Location: Wilsons Promontory National Park, Victoria
Departure Point: Tidal River Camp Grounds
Arrival Point: Wilsons Prom Lighthouse / South-East Point
Route: Via Oberon Bay and Telegraph Track
Distance: 48km Round Trip
Weather: Fine, small patches of clouds, no rain, est temp range 12-16
# of Walkers: 3

Map: I'll post a map here later when my internet isn't having a fit :-(

How We Went

Due to flood damage the Telegraph Saddle car park and the beginning of the Telegraph Track were closed, so Tidal River was our starting point. The plan was to leave Tidal River camping ground at 08:00 and arrive at the lighthouse at around 16:00 give or take. An itinerary is listed below, the times and distances on it have been extracted from the Parks Victoria website.

Of the group, I was the most experienced bushwalker, which doesn't say much for the experience of the group, however we had spent months doing training walks and I was ensuring everyone was up to speed on basic equipment etc... We were as ready as we were ever going to be. Of course with people new to the sport, they're not familiar with their packing times and what not, so we set off an hour late. Subsequently, our departure from Tidal River was at 09:00 with a revised arrival time of around 17:00 and sunset looming at 17:30, we all wanted to make up some ground.

The first rule of making up ground? Ensure the person with the time piece has not adjusted it for daylight savings... as far as he was concerned, we we're two hours behind! This mistake was only realised the day after we arrived at the lighthouse.

With all of that said we didn't hustle too much, took shorter lunch breaks, which we all seemed to want to do anyway, and made it to the lighthouse by about 16:15, making about an hour better time that we had originally planned. So, if you make consistent ground, the Parks Victoria times are a pretty good yard stick for planning your walk.

The Lighthouse, Is It Worth Staying?

In a word? Yes. Apart from the fact that the walk in has some beautiful vistas, the lighthouse is a bushwalkers haven in the middle of nowhere. You get a hot shower, fully equipped kitchen, a real bed and amazing views from every room in the house. If this a property in the city, it would owned by James Packer or someone equally rich.

Track Notes

I found it impossible to find an elevation profile for this walk, and although I lack the technology to provide you folk with one, I can at least describe the track a bit, in the hopes it abates someone elses fear.

Leg: Tidal River to Oberon Bay camp site
Distance: 7.6km
Est Time: 2.5 hours
Parks Vic Rating: Moderate
My Rating: Easy

This section of the walk takes you 1.3km from Tidal River through dense costal tea tree bushland (fairly flat walk), to the edge of Norman Bay and links obviously to the track to Little and Big Oberon Bay.

The trail follows the cliff line which juts out away from Norman Bay before trailing back in to bring you to Little Oberon Bay. You sand walk across Little Oberon back onto the trail and follow a very similar trail to before which brings you to Oberon Bay. Cross the shallow river or be wuss and walk to the shore line and walk around it keeping your feet dry (it was ankle deep when I crossed), and walk the 3.3 km along the sand then slightly inland to the Oberon Bay campsite, complete with toilets should you need a rest stop.

The hardest sections of this leg are the two rocky outcrops which grant you access to each bay, however, having grown up on the Mornington Peninsula these didn't phase me much at all and the track is well maintained. There is some elevation here, but nothing mountainous and enough to permit day trippers through to Little Oberon Bay. The sand was nice and firm and was easy to walk on. I suspect the reason Parks Vic have given this a 'moderate' rating is due to the length of this leg of the track as opposed to its accessibility.

I loved Oberon Bay and would have happily camped there for the night, it's a beautiful stretch of beach.

Leg: Oberon Bay to Telegraph Junction
Distance: 3.4km
Est Time: 1 hour
Parks Vic Rating: Easy
My Rating: Easy

This section is a link 4wd track from the Oberon Bay campsite to the Telegraph Track (I believe so named because this was the path an old telegraph line to the lighthouse ran). There's pretty much no elevation here and is one of the easiest / boring sections of the walk. Keep your eye out for emus here, we found the remains of one, but nothing more.

Leg: Telegraph Junction to Halfway Hut
Distance: 1.3km
Est Time: .5 hr
Parks Vic Rating: Easy
My Rating: Easy

Take a right hand turn and mosey on to halfway hut, which funnily enough, serves as the halfway point of this walk. This leg of the track is again 4wd track, and has minor, minor undulations, these serve as the precursor to the biggest elevation in the walk, Martins Hill. We popped up to halfway hut for a quick lunch. If you want to have lunch later on in the walk, I would suggest you don't plan on having it at the top of Martin's Hill as there is very little shade, instead aim for Roaring Meg, which is well shaded and quite pretty. There is also a toilet at both locations.

Leg: Halfway Hut to Roaring Meg via Telegraph Track
Distance: 4.5km
Est Time: 1.5 hr
Parks Vic Rating: Easy to Moderate
My Rating: Moderate

From Halfway Hut you pretty much immediately start going uphill. Again it's 4wd track, so the challenge is the constant incline as opposed to a poorly graded trail. Martin's Hill peaks at 290m elevation, however the road bypasses past the peak of this hill, and given that you start slightly above sea level, I'm guessing the elevation you complete is about 250m. I would have rated this section as easy, however, by this point you've already logged 12km so you begin to feel the climb a bit. I'm not in the best shape but had practiced on this sort of terrain and slogged through it without much fuss. If you're looking to emulate this part of the track for any training, the 4wd road from the weir in Lerderderg State Park is very similar.

From the peak of Martins Hill you can choose to take a foot trail to Roaring Meg or follow the 4wd trail. We chose the trail as we figured it was the path of least resistance. My understanding is that this is the case.

It's pretty much all down hill to Roaring Meg.

Leg: Roaring Meg to Lightstation via Telegraph Track
Distance: 7.2km
Est Time: 2 hr
Parks Vic Rating: Easy to Moderate
My Rating: Easy to Moderate

The biggest decision you face on this leg of the track is to follow the 4wd track (which is about 3.4km) or take the foot trail which cuts 1km of distance off the walk.

After 16 off k's I suspected there's no such thing as a shortcut on this trail, pulled out the topo, which showed some rather compact contour lines and water at the bottom of the walking track. The 4wd trail was more convoluted, but less up and down. Not being a master of reading these maps yet, I concluded that there are places people can go that vehicles can't, which to me meant that the 4wd took the more accessible and therefore less steep route. I later found this to be true...

By the return walk I had developed a tear in the lateral band of my plantar fascia muscle which lives in your feet, meaning one of my feet was not very good at load bearing, this is part of an ongoing issue with my feet. Any ways, I took the 4wd track figuring it would be easier to traverse with this injury and my party members took the shorter foot trail. We were to reconvene at Roaring Meg. Although I wasn't running at full steam and the healthy folk took the shorter route, they only beat me by 15 minutes. This says to me that this path is not so much of a 'short cut' but simply a different way to get there. It was reported as a bit more of challenge and I'm sure a bit more scenic too.

Via the 4wd track, there is a moderate climb out of Roaring Meg and after that it's fairly easy undulating track. For the last stretch, you're signed off the 4wd track (which ends not far from this turn off) and onto a foot trail, which takes you into the lighthouse. There are some beautiful views coming down this section of the track. It should be noted that I said coming down, which means on the return, this is one of the harder sections of the trail. However it's not quite a spur climb, just a moderately steep walking trail along the face of the coast.

For the final approach to the lighthouse, you face two very steep paved driveway sections. I had been pre-warned about this and thank God I had been, I suspect that some less prepared walkers may have mini break downs when they see it. The intrepid adventurers (meaning in far better shape than us!) whom we shared the accommodation with said that 'there was no way that hill was graded medium.' This made me feel better about the whole thing. So yes, it's big, but just take baby steps and your time, you'll make it. I did!


Overall this is a great track, which is well defined, and well signposted. I relied little on the topographic map, however would still recommend getting your hands on one as it came in handy from time to time and some people we spoke to had minor issues with navigation. We used the VicMap Wilsons Prom Special map.

Were I to do this again. I would probably make a 4-5 day circuit out of it. This would be to mainly break up the days as 24km in one day was a little much for me. If something goes wrong (as did with my foot) this track doesn't allow much margin for error, subsequently I walked 24km on a busted foot and added just over an hour to the walk, it wasn't pleasant. So consider carrying an emergency shelter at worst.

Our guest book told of two girls getting stuck at Roaring Meg in the dark on the way to the lighthouse. They were forced to sleep in the toilet for the night. Similarly, the returning walkers passed a young Asian man near Little Oberon Bay at around 15:30 who declared he was heading to the lighthouse, he was guaranteed to get caught in the dark and advised the walkers that he had no tent. He was lucky with weather and would have been spending the night at halfway hut whether he liked it or not.

A final word on weather. There conditions at the prom can get nasty. The day before we arrived there were winds of 148km at the lighthouse. With wind chill factored in, this brought the apparent temperature down to minus 19 (source below). I was barely equipped for these conditions and less prepared walkers could have been killed with this sort of exposure, so keep an eye on your forecasts and ensure you have sufficient gear to deal with cutting winds.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-08-09/h ... ry/4187512

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are just that, opinions. The author accepts no responsibility or liability for any harm arising out of this publication. All walkers who attempt this trail should be competent, experienced and self sufficient bushwalkers. Formal enquires in relation to this walk should be directed to Parks Victoria.
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Re: Wilsons Prom - Tidal River to Lightstation

Postby sim1oz » Wed 03 Oct, 2012 5:59 pm

Hi Pongo,

Thanks for all the details about the walk. My 16yo daughter and I are planning some quality mother-daughter time in early December and I thought of Wilsons Prom. I am tossing up between a four-day southern circuit walk or 3 days walking tidal river to lighthouse and back (with a visit to South Point on the middle day). The choice seems to be between two long days with cushy accommodation versus four shorter days walking and our tent. Which do you recommend?

Carpe diem!
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Re: Wilsons Prom - Tidal River to Lightstation

Postby Pongo » Sun 26 May, 2013 10:32 pm

Was just looking over some old posts and saw your reply sim1oz. I'm guessing I'm way too late now, but in the interests of anyone else who might find this thread of use I'll give my 2 cents...

The answer would be it depends on the walkers I think. 3 day lighthouse (I'm assuming with a rest day at the light house in the middle) would probably be the way to go, you can carry light packs and that would make the walk easier. 24k is a fair walk though, so I would only do it if your daughter was in decent enough shape to do it, otherwise she'll hate it. But the accommodation is spectacular. We went on the cheapo non-renovated cottage and it was pretty damn good. And the views are awesome.

A four day circuit is a better way to 'see' the prom. More beaches, better scenery. But of course you have the effort associated with carrying the pack for it. Again if your daughter isn't used to this, this could pose a problem.

If it were me (and given I'm off to the prom in a few weeks), I would (and will) be doing the southern circuit.
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