Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby publicrejoicer » Mon 29 Nov, 2021 8:14 pm

thanks Joris, Always good to hear current conditions of the circuit. succinct report. Three cheers for boobooks at night ! When do you go and collect the recorders? Is there anywhere on the web we can read the follow up to the sound survey ?
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby Baeng72 » Tue 30 Nov, 2021 12:00 pm

Nice report.
Sounds like a good time was had.
Brings back memories...
That bog filled 4th water crossing tricks you. I stepped into it, and was up to mid-thigh of mud and water.
Ended up skirting it.
The thickets/trees at the Chinaman long beach end got me lost a few times, backtracking and faffing about, getting a bit cut up by the sharp stuff.
Real pain in the *&%$#! and time waster.
Now I need to resume the fetal position after thinking about it. :)
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby Joris » Wed 01 Dec, 2021 7:32 am

publicrejoicer wrote:thanks Joris, Always good to hear current conditions of the circuit. succinct report. Three cheers for boobooks at night ! When do you go and collect the recorders? Is there anywhere on the web we can read the follow up to the sound survey ?


They last about a month so I will be back some time in summer depending on conditions and probably walk the circuit again.The survey is part of a government-funded effort to better understand the current population distribution of (Eastern) Ground Parrot - and particularly in light of the 2019-2020 bushfires which burned a significant portion of the species' habitat. Certainly there will be a report to government and I presume there will be a publicly accessible version of it at some point in 2022.

Baeng72 wrote:Nice report.
Sounds like a good time was had.
Brings back memories...
That bog filled 4th water crossing tricks you. I stepped into it, and was up to mid-thigh of mud and water.
Ended up skirting it.
The thickets/trees at the Chinaman long beach end got me lost a few times, backtracking and faffing about, getting a bit cut up by the sharp stuff.
Real pain in the *&%$#! and time waster.
Now I need to resume the fetal position after thinking about it. :)


That bog crossing fooled me. By the time I realised the situation there was no point in skirting it - mud bath! :lol:
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby Joris » Mon 21 Feb, 2022 11:42 am

Hi folks,

Walked the circuit again this past Friday-Sunday in clockwise direction - those audio recorders deployed in November don't pick themselves up! Bit less time available so had to do it over two nights, camping at Lower Barry Creek and Johnny Souey Cove before walking out on Sunday. Since the very wet spring we had it has not rained much at the Prom and it showed along the way - the boggy sections between the track and LBC were dry and Barry Creek at the latter showed a much lower water level. However, albeit low, the water is still flowing well and smells and tastes good (I still treated it). Big *&%$#! tiger snake right before reaching LBC was sunning on the trail in the late afternoon sun and could not be bothered to move. Southern Boobook calling at night.

Left LBC early next morning - entire section to Chinaman's Creek dry underfoot. First crossing no longer resembles an Olympian-length swimming pool but is now largely ankle to shin deep mud and water, solid underfoot. Second crossing is still mostly water below the knee. Some mud, but easy wading. Neither crossing had flow left in it - unless desperate it is probably better to avoid using the water. Third crossing dry. Three more snakes after this.

The bog creek crossing to the SW of Chinaman's Knob has now given up any pretense of being a creek and is now back to looking and smelling like a bog. Mid-thigh deep mud - cross at your own peril. Nice closeups with Southern Emu-wren in this area.

The last 1km to Chinaman's Long Beach was quicker than last time - somehow managed to stay on the marked trail the entire way. The shallow creek along CLB holds no water at the moment. Hundreds of Black Swan and Grey Teal loafing on the water along the beach, pair of Hooded Plover halfway along and a White-bellied Sea-Eagle overhead. Did not pop into Tin Min Cove and quickly crossed the peninsula towards 3 Mile Beach.

Arrived at Johnny Souey late afternoon - southernmost creek (the one that cascades down the rocks) is dry with just a few stagnant pools left. The northern creek still had reasonable flow in it (enough to flow to the sea), water smelled fine and tasted good (still treated it). One other bushwalker at the cove - other than a friendly wave we maintained each other's solitude. Incredibly bright moonlight at night - could have started walking south in the dark without a torch. Groups of Short-tailed Shearwater flying out to sea around dusk.

On walkout from JSC to Five Mile Beach I quickly checked the Miranda Creek spring - its usually modest flow is now reduced to a very modest trickle. With a small bottle or a straw you could top up here still but it would require a bit of patience. Had several White-throated Needle-tail foraging overhead along the ridge that is marked St Kilda Junction on the maps.

All the main creeks along the management track still carry water and all have reasonable flow still.

Hopefully the above is of use to some of you.
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby bigkev » Tue 22 Feb, 2022 9:48 am

Thanks Joris...nice report.
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby picklemuncher » Sun 25 Sep, 2022 5:57 pm

has anyone done the northern circuit in the past few months? I'm keen to get out there soon! will call the park office in the week but thinking I might get more reliable info here.

mostly wondering about the swampy section with all the rain recently whether it's worth trying or too much of a slog. plan would be for 3 days.. Carpark-5 mile beach-Tin Mine cove- carpark. would that itinerary work or would the last day be too slow going to get through comfortably?

any info is appreciated :)
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Sun 25 Sep, 2022 9:11 pm

IMHO the Chinaman's swamp section will be an ordeal and very wet.
I would wait until Easter. I have done this trek 3 times.Going in an anti clockwise direction It took us three nights and four days IIRC.
The 5 mile Beach to Tin Mile Cove leg was long and taxing.
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby publicrejoicer » Mon 26 Sep, 2022 8:42 am

Regardless of the swamp conditions, three days is not long enough for that circuit. That country requires you to invest more time. When you arrive at 5 mile beach you will be cursing that *&%$#! jeep track but this is where the walk really starts. Treat yourself to 4 or 5 days. If you are limited to the three days make John Souey your destination and explore. I would have no problem with doing the swamp anytime now up until Jan. You can't get wetter than wet and there is always a hot shower pending. My issue is a chance introduction to an irate snake that gets disturbed as your party hammers around the scrub. Always wear long pants and gaiters and know what to do. That being said I have done the swamp twice and never seen a snake. We look forward to your report.
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby indented » Mon 26 Sep, 2022 3:41 pm

picklemuncher wrote:has anyone done the northern circuit in the past few months? I'm keen to get out there soon! will call the park office in the week but thinking I might get more reliable info here.

mostly wondering about the swampy section with all the rain recently whether it's worth trying or too much of a slog. plan would be for 3 days.. Carpark-5 mile beach-Tin Mine cove- carpark. would that itinerary work or would the last day be too slow going to get through comfortably?

any info is appreciated :)


Can't speak for current conditions as my trip was nearing 2 years ago now (wow), but three days is doable if you're after a challenge. It is a push though and from Tin Mine to the carpark took me about 9 hours with rain a lot of the time and many times losing the track.

I had planned on 4 days but with an early start on day three I made it to Lower Barry camp before lunch. Didn't feel like sitting around all arvo in the rain when I could be having a burger instead.
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby Joris » Tue 27 Sep, 2022 8:19 am

I have walked the circuit twice in the past 10 months (see further up this thread) and it was really quite wet in mid-November 2021, but nothing that could not be overcome. Looking at the BOM website and comparing rainfall records at the lighthouse for 2021 and 2022 (to August) it seems to me that last year was a lot wetter in that area than is currently the case. No guarantees of course! That said - plenty has fallen and water should not be an issue this time of year.

It will be wet underfoot from west of Lower Barry Creek to west of Chinaman's Knob but that is almost a guarantee in early spring. The actual swamp crossings are not that hard - from west to east: the two big ones are pretty solid underfoot and reasonably straightforward to navigate. The third one is relatively deep but quite short whereas the fourth one is really a mud bath (despite appearances when it is wet) but can be skirted. Currents are negligible to non-existent. In all it comes down to your willingness to get wet at those crossings - if the weather is reasonable irt temperature etc I find it is easiest to just strip off as required, maybe wear some rain pants for basic protection and swap out your boots for reef booties or similar. Use a waterproof liner for your pack.

As to time required - as an indicator of what I did - in November last year I had more time available and so after driving down from Melbourne I walked from the car park to Lower Barry Creek (day 1); from LBC to Tin Min Cove (day 2); from TMC to Johnny Souey Cove (day 3); from JSC to car park (day 4). With less time available last January I again walked from the car park to LBC later in the day (day 1); but on day 2 went from LBC to JSC in one go and walked back out the following day.

Snakes - single baby snake in November last year, 4 big Tigers in the swamp area (not the crossings) in January. If you are going in the next couple of weeks you are not overly likely to encounter (m)any. Still - gaiters are your friend in this terrain, regardless of snakes.

Now that you mention it .... I will probably head out there again some time this spring!
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby Joris » Mon 21 Nov, 2022 12:50 pm

Walked part of the northern circuit for a Hooded Plover survey from Friday 18 to Sunday 20th November - must have done this a handful of times since 2014 by now. Survey area extends from Johnny Souey Cove to Biddy's Cove and as such that was the main focus. Walked in on the 18th and camped at JS Cove in quite pleasant conditions although the NE wind picked up a fair bit in the evening and overnight. Plenty of water everywhere with all the main creeks, minor creeks and road embankments along the 5 Mile management track producing fresh water. The spring at Miranda Creek (opposite 5 Mile Beach camp) was flowing well, but the creek itself was equally pushing out masses of fresh water - enough to battle the incoming tide. As a result the water level at low tide is quite high and the water was hip deep when I crossed it the first time (1.5 hours after low tide). The trail from 5 Mile to JS Cove has seen some minor pruning and some tape addition. At the cove both creeks were running very, very well.

Started the survey from JS Cove on the 19th, leaving the tent behind, and easily crossed 3 Mile Point (some evidence of minor, strategic pruning, new tape and a clear up at the exit point onto the rocks since February) and continued north. The nameless rocky headland to the north of 3 Mile Point is also equipped with a creek which is often dry but was flowing well on this occasion. Flushed an immature White-bellied Sea-eagle from the coastal scrub there.

Major erosion along Three Mile Beach (seems to be getting worse each year) with entire, ancient banksias smashed on the beach. At the northern end of Three Mile Beach the fun really begins, having to traverse the rocks at Lighthouse Point. At high tide this takes a bit longer and more care is required but still managed it in 20 minutes. The beaches to the north of the point are as per usual quite something - vast and deep, with a lot of embryonic dune systems and relatively little vegetation. Not a coincidence that this is where most of the Hooded Plovers, Red-capped Plovers and various other shorebirds hang out and have established territories. It has been so wet that there are large ephemeral lakes high on the beach - complete with waterfowl!

A one-way survey is all well and good but at the end you still have to turn back and do it all again - going back to JS Cove took 4 hours once I had finished the survey reaching Biddy's Cove. Bit quicker around Lighthouse Point at low tide, and ahead of gathering weather at the horizon I got back to camp. Although not cold, the wind chill was not overly pleasant and drizzle / light rain made for a quick dinner and an early retreat to bed.

Fair bit of rain overnight and keeping in mind the early morning high tide at Miranda Creek I decided to wait for weather improvement before packing up and moving south again. You'd think that 2.5 hours after high tide would result in a reasonable crossing height (more so as by now very strong westerlies were pushing against the tide). Nope. Had to strip down to undies and reef boots, carrying the pack across on my head what with water reaching my chest while it briefly started raining again (I am 1.90). Forty meters is all of a sudden quite a long way in that context while also trying to avoid stepping on unseen rocks in the dark tannin-coloured water. Managed to stay upright, cross and quickly got organised for the walk out. Showers and sunshine battled for dominance as it got progressively windier the closer I got to the car. Overtook some walkers who had spent the night at Lower Barry Creek - apparently really quite wet between the management track and LBC, so for Chinaman's Swamp a boat may be required :lol:

All in all, good fun once again.
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby peregrinator » Mon 21 Nov, 2022 5:37 pm

Thank you Joris, that's another excellent summary by you. In a previous post, you mentioned that there may be some data published this year on the bird surveys. Has that occurred yet or is it still to come?
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby Joris » Tue 22 Nov, 2022 10:05 am

peregrinator wrote:Thank you Joris, that's another excellent summary by you. In a previous post, you mentioned that there may be some data published this year on the bird surveys. Has that occurred yet or is it still to come?


Thanks - appreciated. The report is still in draft format I think (I am not one of the authors) but the data is certainly both with DELWP and BirdLife AU. Essentially, it seems Eastern Ground Parrot occurs across the wet heath habitats between Lower Barry Creek and Chinaman's Knob - the recorders captured a lot of territorial activity, including at times multiple birds at once. Lower densities occurred in the moorland sections between Johnny Souey Cove and Miranda Creek. Combined with records from DELWP along 5 Mile Beach Road it looks like there is still a healthy population around at the Prom - particularly heartening given the wide-spread devastation of the species' habitat in southern NSW and eastern VIC as a result of the 2020 bushfires.
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby publicrejoicer » Thu 24 Nov, 2022 11:49 am

Yes thanks for your update of this magical area.
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby andrewbish » Wed 04 Jan, 2023 2:23 pm

Howdy! Been a while since my last post but hoping this info might be useful.

Did the northern prom circuit anticlockwise over the new year with a couple of mates, taking 5 days including two days chilling at Five Mile Beach camp.

Crossed the cove out of Five Mile a couple of hours after high tide. Was still quite deep in the middle section requiring a short swim. I used a garbage bag to keep my pack dry and afloat.

There was good water availability at all camps. A katadyn filter was helpful for removing the brackish flavor of the water at Tin mine.

All of the bush sections are heavily overgrown and if not exactly a bush bash - there was generally a cleared footpad- we had to push through heavy bush a lot of the time. Navigation was tricky in a number of the bush sections but particularly before and after Chinaman's Creek. There was thigh deep, sticky mud just before Chinaman's. chinamans itself was about thigh deep in water, but was thankfully firm underfoot.

Saw a few black wallabies and a tiger snake. There was no shortage of mosquitoes and march flies!
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby publicrejoicer » Thu 05 Jan, 2023 7:17 am

Appreciate the update. Were there many other punters on the track ?
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby andrewbish » Tue 17 Jan, 2023 8:02 am

There was a couple staying at 5 Mile Beach the first night. Another couple was one day ahead of us on the circuit.
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby Baeng72 » Fri 17 Mar, 2023 7:41 pm

Through the memory depleting powers of time and curative properties (i.e. memory loss) of medicinal alcohol I've decided to go again.
It was all type 1 and 2 fun wasn't it? Frolicking in the meadows?
I probably should have just read my previous report when I it was still fresh and relived the pain vicariously of my 2 year younger self, but no!
I need to experience it again, but anti-clockwise this time.
Is there any recent info, I'm interested in the water situation.
Thanks in advance.
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Sat 18 Mar, 2023 9:43 pm

I have walked that loop three times three years in a row. It is has some tough bits and some proper bush bashing. Easter is a good time to do it and I always did it anti clockwise.
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby Baeng72 » Sun 19 Mar, 2023 6:03 am

paidal_chalne_vala wrote:I have walked that loop three times three years in a row. It is has some tough bits and some proper bush bashing. Easter is a good time to do it and I always did it anti clockwise.

Yes it has tough bits. The scratching Banksia, the tripping grass, leaches, flies, snakes, the GPS going apeshite near Chinamans knob, timing low tide, etc.
I haven't forgotten the swamp.
I shouldn't think about it, as I might change my mind. :)
Anticlockwise this time like sensible people do.
But water will be interesting and my only concern.
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Sun 19 Mar, 2023 8:00 pm

Purchase a 4 Litre water transport bladder that clips onto your pack. However anything not inside your pack at the N.Prom. will be ripped off by insane scrub bashing.
Why not walk the Baw Baws from Mt. Erica Car Park to Stronach's camp and back?
That would be Far More pleasant and less suffering will be involved.
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby Joris » Mon 20 Mar, 2023 7:13 am

Baeng72 wrote:
paidal_chalne_vala wrote:I have walked that loop three times three years in a row. It is has some tough bits and some proper bush bashing. Easter is a good time to do it and I always did it anti clockwise.

Yes it has tough bits. The scratching Banksia, the tripping grass, leaches, flies, snakes, the GPS going apeshite near Chinamans knob, timing low tide, etc.
I haven't forgotten the swamp.
I shouldn't think about it, as I might change my mind. :)
Anticlockwise this time like sensible people do.
But water will be interesting and my only concern.



I have done it twice now, clock-wise. It really does not matter which way you go. Don't forget that last time you went the conditions weren't exactly ideal - seemed pretty *&%$#! hot from your posts. It was very wet still last November (when I was there), and clearly the January report above had no issues finding water either. It has been quite dry across VIC since then, though a fair bit of rain came down at the Prom about 6 weeks ago in early February. Forecast ahead looks like it will be a cool, with some rain this week. Hard to say quite what the conditions on the ground are but you would reasonably expect water at (Lower) Barry Creek and Miranda Creek (either the spring, but certainly the creek at low tide). Tin Min Cove is hard to predict - it is a pretty small catchment but hard to imagine it would have completely ceased since January. Given the time of year you may still get a trickle at Johnny Souey Cove. Carry plenty of water - if there is no recent trip report re: water conditions the worst that could happen is that you carried a few litres for nothing for part of the walk.

If you want to go anti-clockwise sooner rather than later camp at Five Mile Beach first - decent walk-in on top of your travel there (or skip on to JSC if you feel up for it). Water effectively guaranteed at FMB. Assuming non-dehydrated conditions on this occasion (ahem!) from there to JSC should be a doddle, and 3 Mile Point is very accessible again. In 2.5-3 hours after leaving FMB camp you should be at the bush-bashing section across the peninsula. Going east to west means you get the dense business out of the way first. Spent the night at TMC, with hopefully some water present. Start fresh the next day for a wander down the beach - an hour in warms you up, so you have got maximum energy / momentum to tackle the northern end of the swamp section, which is arguably the toughest. Once out on the moorland it is straightforward enough and once past the various crossings the trail towards Lower Barry eases up a fair bit. Camp at LBC or top up and move on out.
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby Baeng72 » Mon 20 Mar, 2023 7:25 am

Thanks guys. Good advice.
I have a bladder thingy.
I'll carry extra, as the alternative isn't worth saving a couple of kilos in extra water.
And just keep filling up at each water site I find so I'm good to keep moving on and finding none at the next.
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Tue 21 Mar, 2023 9:19 am

Part of me thinks maybe I will do that trek again .However there are still walks (and ski tours) I have not yet done. I am in my 50's now so I need to do new adventures while my body will still co operate.
The 5 mile Beach to Tin Mine Cove stage is a long a day .

Start walking at dawn in Autumn .

I have never camped at Johnny Souey Cove.
It could be nice to camp there but by the time our
party reached 5 mile beach we had had enough for the
day and finding water, setting up tents , cooking food etc. became more important.
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby Baeng72 » Tue 21 Mar, 2023 10:01 am

I generally start walking before sunrise, and if I can, go until not long before sunset. It makes up for my slow pace.
I think it was about 6 hours (according to my photo times) from Chinaman Long beach (makeshift camp) to Johnny Souey campsite, and I wasted a lot of time looking for water/navigating that I don't plan on repeating this time (fingers crossed).
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Re: Northern Circuit, Wilson's Promontory

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Wed 22 Mar, 2023 1:45 pm

We got lost in a different place each time , three times in a row, crossing the Dreaded flat swamp/ Marsh from Chinaman's Knob to Lower Barry Creek camp.
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