Wilsons Promontory: Exploring the Mainland's Southernmost Point
Words and images by David Priddis from Australia Overland, who has travelled around Australia to experience the country's greatest off-road destinations.
The southernmost point of Australia lies within the Wilsons Promontory National Park, its scenic coastal tracks and stunning beaches have made it a longtime playground of Melbournites and visitors from far and wide. Most folks either come to complete the multi-day coastal hike or to visit the lighthouse at SE point. For some reason however, the idea of hiking to reach the southernmost point is not on the agenda for most – which made the trek all the more exciting.
The closest point you can drive to is the Telegraph Saddle car park. From there it’s a 13km hike, following the dirt road, to the closest campsite to the Southern Point, called Roaring Meg. There you can set up camp and complete the further 8km round trip to the point unencumbered by your heavy pack. The dirt road is well graded and could also be cycled, meaning you could turn the trek into a quick ride if you were so inclined.
Wilsons Promontory Navigation & Maps
The dirt road at first takes a winding path to the valley floor in the comfortable shade of tall pine trees. As you arrive at the valley floor, so the vegetation thins out and it can be a hot stuffy hike through the lowlands in the direct sun, starved of the sea breeze by the surrounding hills. Once at the southern side, it’s a steady climb past Half Way Hut, which is worth a look, and onto the summit. On the steady hike up, be sure to turn around and enjoy the view back along the valley and down to the ocean; lush green vegetation stretching to the deep blue sea, separated by a thin ribbon of golden sand. Once over the top of the pass you follow the dirt road on a gradual descent to Roaring Meg campsite, which is in the shade of tall trees. The first sign you have arrived is the wooden dunny on the corner, which you walk past to enter the camping area. There you will find a range of cleared flat areas to choose from, though this time I chose to follow the trail down to the left, which takes you to Roaring Meg creek itself. There you can find secluded camp spots all along the creek that give easy access to fresh water for cooking and cleaning, and where I set up camp and left the majority of my gear. If you plan on leaving your food behind, be sure to hang it high in a tree. If you don’t wombats may come clawing at your tent to get at what’s inside, which is obviously more of a concern at night, but it never hurts to take precautions.
Now just carrying my phone with Hema Explorer loaded and my water bottle, I returned to the higher area of the campsite to find where the trail for the southern point left. Unhelpfully the sign has disappeared and the start of the track south is not very obvious. It’s not until you are on top of it are you sure that you’re on the right path. Following the trail through the forest along the hillside, you get the impression it doesn't see a lot of traffic: lack of erosion and sections of rough trail gave me an indication that few bother to seek out this corner of the great continent. When compared to the hordes that tramp the short walk to the tip of Cape York, you feel this is a real adventure.
As you descend the trail to the coast, the trees start to clear and the stunning beauty of the ocean crashing into the rocky shore is laid out before you. Upon stepping onto the point itself, you find the long sought-out sign confirming your hike has not been in vain and you have indeed arrived at the most Southern Point on mainland Australia. In comparison to the other signs I have encountered marking the other extremes of the great island, this one is humble: a simple printed sheet of paper covered in perspex and bordered in a wooden frame. But there is more land beyond the sign and not wanting to fall sort of the actual southernmost point, I scramble my way along the rocky point to where is actually meets the ocean. The weather is perfect and the blue Tasmanian sea crashing against the massive granite boulders in loud waves of sound, truly makes you feel you have reached somewhere special. If you look carefully around you will find a wooden stump of a previous South Point sign that has succumbed to the power of ocean. After taking an obligatory selfie with the sign and sitting for a while to just absorb the view, it was time for the hike back to camp.
As I catch sight of my tent, I look at my phone to find Hema Explorer telling me I had walked 21km for the day. The tiredness in my legs then felt justified, and that it was time for a good feed. Later that evening, falling asleep to the sounds of water trickling through the creek, I drifted off satisfied with the days events and happy to have reached yet another of Australia’s remote points.
CAMPING: Tidal River camping area is $50 a pitch, and up to 8 people. Camping permit of $7.00, which includes free parking at Telegraph Saddle car park, the closest place to the southernmost point you can park your car.
Roaring Meg camping area is 8km return from the southernmost point, and has a drop toilet and natural water source at the campsite (though it's recommended you treat the water before consuming).