ROAD TRIP : GIPPSLAND + WILSONS PROM
As soon as we reached Victoria fellow travellers told us we must – we just must – visit Wilsons Promontory National Park. We had two weeks between the end of our housesitting experience till we needed to board the boat to Tassie so we mapped out our journey through Gippsland and down to The Prom, stopping at small country towns along the way.
It was good to be back in the van after two-and-a-half weeks in a house and we only had to drive an hour or so to our first destination, Warragul. We stayed at Warragul Gardens Holiday Park which was just of the highway and boasted the most beautiful rose gardens I’ve seen on our travels. It was a very quiet park (perhaps not so suited to very vocal 18-month-olds) but it was walking distance to a wonderful park on Burke St and a tree-lined pathway into town. Emma from She Sows Seeds is a local so she sent me straight to South Brew Co for coffee which lived up to its reputation. The following day we visited The Gippy Goat; a sweet cafe on a goat farm with a petting area and then made our way south to The Prom.
We took the Warragul-Korumburra Hwy on our way south and it proved to be very, very windy. The views made up for it though; those Gippsland hills really are a picture. We always like to stop in at small towns on our travel days and Fish Creek was a delightful choice. There’s plenty of parking for caravans, great amenities and a park for the kids to play at. We grabbed coffee and a homemade jam + coconut slice at The Paddock Coffee House before we walked to Alison Lester’s Bookshop/Gallery and lost ourselves in everything that’s wonderful about her books. Are We There Yet? was the book that inspired our journey so when we were told that she would be instore a few days later to sign books we made plans to return.
Onward we went to Yanakie which is situated on Corner Inlet, about five minutes drive from The Prom gate. We’d heard mixed reports about staying at Tidal River (the main camping ground at The Prom) and after seeing it for ourselves (the vans/tents were packed in like sardines) we were really grateful to find Yanakie Caravan Park. We were there at peak time and paid the price ($70/night) but it was a good option for us. Granted it was very windy for a few days, so much so that we probably should have forgone water to have a site protected by trees but we enjoyed our stay regardless. As for the kids, there was a wonderful playground and basketball court which attracted 20+ kids in the late afternoon, the beach was calm and perfect for paddling toddlers and it was the ideal base for day-trips to The Prom.
Tips for Visiting Wilsons Prom
- Do a decent grocery shop before you arrive. Yanakie has a small grocery store with all the essentials but I recommend going to the IGA in Korumburra or Woolworths in Leongatha.
- It takes a good 3-40 minutes to drive down to Tidal River from the front gate so factor this into your day. At dusk you have to drive significantly slower as there is a lot of wildlife on the side of the road (and yes, the wombats are huge!)
- Pack insect repellent as the march flies are everywhere and they sting and itch for days (they got me good!)
- We went to Squeaky Beach on our first visit and yes, the sand really does squeak. It’s an incredibly unique beach with huge, wondrous rocks that the kids can play amongst. There’s a small creek that runs off the mountain and into the sea and it makes for the perfect place for little ones to splash. It’s a relatively easy 300m walk from the car park to the beach (so easy that we took the pram and loaded all our gear onto it) and once late afternoon hits there’s shade under the mountain.
- Picnic Bay is a must visit too (it sits between Squeaky Beach and Whisky Bay). The walk from the carpark is more arduous but most definitely worth it. We packed a picnic dinner and arrived about 5pm to find that we were the only ones there! It was magic; the clearest water surrounded by mountains.
- Tidal River has a cafe/restaurant as well as public toilets. There are also toilets at each of the carparks that lead to the beaches.
- There are an abundance of walks (easy, full day and overnight) that you can do but for us, afternoons by the water worked.
On our way back to Melbourne we had car troubles so we stopped at the closest side-road and fortuitously stumbled across Coal Creek. What we thought was just an information centre was actually an historic town in its original condition including a train at the station, blacksmiths, bank and general store. The entry is free and it’s so worth the visit. We were in awe of this time capsule town; it was like walking through yesteryear.
Onward we went to the little town of Loch which is just about as charming as you can get. We stayed at the Loch Memorial Reserve for $20/night (powered with access to toilets + shower in the clubhouse). There was a children’s playground right beside our van and after a short walk over the suspension bridge and along the (old) railway tracks we made it into town. Considering at least five different people told us to visit our expectations were high and yet Loch lived up to them. It’s very much a weekend town with most shops open Thursday-Monday and each one is delightful. We had a delicious breakfast at Olive at Loch, I gazed for probably too long at the windows of Udder and Hoe and Daniel and I agreed that we would have to return to sample the gin at the Loch Distillery.