Wilsons Promontory National Park

The Wilsons Promontory National Park,[2] commonly known as Wilsons Prom or The Prom,[3] is a national park in the Gippsland region of Victoria, Australia, located approximately 157 kilometres (98 mi) southeast of Melbourne.

This article is about the national park. For the peninsula, see Wilsons Promontory.

Protected area in Victoria, Australia
Wilsons Promontory National Park
Victoria

Colourful rocks within the national park.

Map of South Gippsland with the national park shown in green on lower right

Wilsons Promontory National Park
Nearest town or city Yanakie
Coordinates

39°00′48″S146°23′37″E

Established July 1898 (1898-07)
Area 505 km2 (195.0 sq mi)[1]
Managing authorities Parks Victoria
Website Wilsons Promontory National Park
See also Protected areas of Victoria

The 50,500-hectare (125,000-acre) national park is the southernmost national park on mainland Australia, known for its rainforests, beaches and abundant wildlife. The national park covers the southern portion of Wilsons Promontory, a peninsula containing South Point, the southernmost point on the Australian mainland. A lighthouse on the south-east corner of the peninsula is the southernmost lighthouse on mainland Australia and has operated continuously since 1859.

The Park is highly popular with bushwalkers and campers, and has a number of lodges and serviced camping areas at a camping area near the mouth of Tidal River.

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Indigenous Australians occupied the area at least 6,500 years ago based on archaeological records.

The first Europeans to sight Wilsons Promontory are believed to be George Bass and Matthew Flinders in 1798.

Extensive sealing took place at Sealer’s Cove during the 19th Century, such that seals are no longer found there.

Lobbying by the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria and the Royal Society of Victoria (including Arthur Henry Shakespeare Lucas) led to the Government of Victoria temporarily reserving the area as National Park in 1898, made permanent in 1908. The original settlement in the Park was on the Darby River site, where a chalet existed.[4]

The Wilsons Promontory was used as commando training area during World War II. A memorial to commandos who lost their lives in World War II is located at Tidal River.

A large section of the park was burnt out in April 2005 by a bushfire caused by a controlled burn that breached containment lines because of warmer and windier conditions than were forecast for that day, causing the evacuation of six-hundred people.[5]

During the Black Saturday Fires of February 2009 throughout Victoria, trees in the Wilsons Promontory were struck by lightning, which then led to the loss of up to 50% of the national park through major fire damage.

Tidal River as viewed from the summit of Mount Oberon
A sand dune along the “Big Drift” trail

Tidal River is the main location for accommodation and camping in Wilsons Promontory National Park. Tidal River Campground has 484 camping and caravan sites (including twelve powered sites) situated near the beach and river. There are also eleven remote walk-in sites located within the park.[6]

Tidal River camping ground is nestled in sand dunes behind Norman Bay, on the western side of the peninsula.[3] The only road open to visitors leads from Yanakie at the park entrance to Tidal River, a distance of 32 kilometres (20 mi).

When fully occupied, the settlement of Tidal River swells to over 2,000 people. There is a visitor centre open daily, a general store which serves basic supermarket and emergency items, fish and chips and takeaway food. The outdoor cinema, established in the late 1940s, is a nostalgic favourite amongst summer campers who will sometimes line up for over an hour before tickets can be bought so they can save a seat in the front row with a blanket.

During summer, a ballot is held to allocate sites from Christmas until late January. Regardless of the time of year, all accommodation must be pre-booked.[3]

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