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Wilsons Promontory National Park...
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This hike is in a remote area. Map and compass navigation is required. Only experienced, well equipped and physically fit hikers should attempt this hike.
The Prom has always been a popular destination for hikers. You may be familiar with destinations such as Sealers Cove, Refuge Cove, Waterloo Bay, Oberon Bay and the Lighthouse, these are all fabulous places for both the day and overnight hiker. If you are seeking a greater challenge and more of a wilderness experience, see what the Wilsons Promontory - Northern Circuit has to offer. This is a challenging hike with long stretches along five mile beach, multiple headlands to traverse which require navigation skills, river crossings and sections through muddy swamp and marsh land with minimal navigation aids.
The following conditions apply to the Northern Circuit.
- Hikers must fill out a Hiker Self Assessment Form before a hiking permit is issued. Call 13 1963 for further information.
- Some track sections are marked with flagging tape however other sections are undefined therefore hikers must be proficient in navigation with a map and compass.
- Overnight camping is permitted for two consecutive nights only at each of the camp areas throughout the year.
- Maximum group size at any one campsite is six.
- The current price (December 2020) for overnight hikes in the prom is $7.00 per person per night but this is revised annually.
Day 1 (18.4km)
- Five Mile Road car park to Barry Creek camp (6.7 km, 2 hours)
- Barry Creek camp to Five Mile Beach camp (12.5 km, 3.5 hours)
Day 2 (17.5km)
- Five Mile Beach camp to Johnny Souey Cove camp (3.5km, 1.5 - 2 hours)
- Johnny Souey Cove camp to Tin Mine Cove camp (15km, 6-7 hours)
Day 3 (11.5km)
- Tin Mine Cove camp to Lower Barry Creek camp (12 km, 4-6 hours)
Day 4 (9.7km)
- Lower Barry Creek camp to Five Mile Road car park (10.3 km, 3-4 hours)
By James Bell - 26 January 2021
Five Mile Carpark to Five Mile Beach is 18km all along a management vehicle access road. The road is exposed and steep in sections. You will have views looking North over the entire hike from some sections of the road. Barry’s creek campsite is a good spot to stop for lunch along the way. Barry’s Creek will also be the last high-quality water source to fill up from for the next 2-3~ days. The last 1km is along the Northern portion of Five Mile Beach. Five Mile campsite sits in between the beach and Miranda Creek. The campsite has space for only ~5 tents at most, you would struggle to find space for many more. Miranda Creek is an estuary, you cannot drink the water from it. There is a water source across the estuary, to find it, from Five Mile Beach campground looking across the estuary towards the track to Johnny Suey Cove (track marked by a small rock cairn) the water source will be ~20 metres along the estuary to the left (south-west) from the trailhead.
Five Mile Beach to Johnny Suey, the track conditions are quite good and not too overgrown. You will walk over the exposed scrubby headland to Johnny Suey. Johnny Suey is a beautiful campground, the designated site only has space for 1-2 small tents, however there is also a ‘boaters campground’ with a much nicer view over the cove and with a lot more space to camp. There was no running water at Johnny Suey in January 2021. Pushing ~100 metres through dense scrub deep up the estuary (adjacent to designated campsite) we were able to find a small stagnant freshwater pool which needed filtering. You cannot rely on water here in summer. Johnny Suey had thousands of tiny soldier crabs along the beach, as did the beach leading to Lighthouse Point.
The Section from Johnny Suey to Lighthouse Point is potentially dangerous. You are walking along large rocks at the next headland for ~600 metres, even at low tide it is to deep to paddle/wade through the water alongside the rocks. Scrambling with your hands along the rocks is required for some sections. After this you are on the beach all the way to Lighthouse Point.
Lighthouse Point to Tin Mine Cove the track is overgrown and scrubby. The track in this section is mostly navigable with a footpad still visible most of the way. I took gardening gloves and used them to snap the scrub in our way. Once you come out onto Chinaman Long Beach it is just 2km~ North to Tin Mine Cove, this section of the track is quite good. The water at Tin Mine was very poor in January 2021. The water quality did not improve further upstream from the beach. The water was heavily tannin and tasted strongly metallic, it was not at all refreshing. This is the last water source until you reach Chinaman Swamp (if you are desperate) or Lower Barry Creek campground. March flies and Sand flies were a major issue here (and for most of the Northern Prom), they often bit us through our clothes, tropical strength insect repellent is almost essential. Tin Mine Cove hiker’s campground is good, with enough space for ~10 tents. Five Mile Beach to Tin Mine Cove is approx. 21km total.
From Tin Mine Cove to Lower Barry campground is approx. 22km and the track is extremely overgrown. The walk back from Tin Mine Cove to the Chinaman Swamp trailhead at the south of the Chinaman Long Beach is easy going along the beach. At this point, gaiters become pretty much mandatory. The 6km section from the trailhead to Lower Barry Creek took us 5.5 hours. The trail disappears entirely in some sections, particularly when going through sections with lots of button grass. Flagging tape has all but disappeared from the track, but it is essential to follow the old trail. We lost the trail at one point and ended up in extremely dense scrub. We saw a snake in this section. The ‘Getlost map 81254-2 DARBY Topographic Map V14d 1:25,000’ is freely available on the Avenza Maps app had an accurate line marking of the trail. Once we realised we needed to stay on the trail we managed to bash our way back to this GPS line and things improved somewhat. The section through the Chinaman’s Swamp was knee deep and lasted for approx. 100m. We stopped a number of times on the way to Lower Barry Creek wherever we could find shade under the Banksia trees, this was due to the extreme heat (36 degrees at the Prom). Lower Barry Creek was flowing well and the water was extremely refreshing when we arrived.
The section from Lower Barry Creek back to the Five Mile road did not improve much. It was still extremely overgrown although the track was easier to follow. Once you get back to the road it is ~5km to the carpark.
Wilsons Promontory National Park is approximately three hours drive from Melbourne. Follow the Monash Freeway (M1) to join the South Gippsland Freeway (M420/A440) to Meeniyan. Take the Meeniyan- Promontory Road (C444) to the Wilsons Promontory Entrance.
Tidal River Visitor Centre is 30km south of the park entrance. You will need to register at the visitors center before commencing this hike. They will then direct you to the trail-head.
There is no fuel at Tidal River. The closest fuel outlet is at Yanakie.
The following conditions apply to the Barry Creek, Lower Barry Creek, Tin Mine Cove, Johnny Souey Cove and Five Mile Beach overnight hike camp areas.
- Hikers must fill out a 'Hiker Self Assessment Form' before a hiking permit is issued. Call 13 1963 for further information
- Some track sections are marked with flagging tape however other sections are undefined therefore hikers must be proficient in navigation with a map and compass
- Overnight camping is permitted for two consecutive nights only at each of the camp areas throughout the year
- Maximum group size at any one campsite is six
- Toilets are not provided. Bury all faecal waste and paper at least 15cm deep and at least 100 metres from campsites and watercourses. Mix waste with soil to aid decomposition and discourage animals.
- Hikers must obtain a permit before commencing their walk and carry it with them at all times. After completing your hike, please return your permit to the Tidal River Visitor Centre or in the permit boxes located at the Five Mile car park, outside the Park Entrance Station or outside the Tidal River Visitor Centre. This system informs rangers of your safe return.
- Do not do this trail during summer, water is extremely unreliable.
- Carry lots of water capacity ~6L each.
- Stick closely to an accurate GPS for the section from Tin Mine Cove to Barry Creek.
Max elevation: 174 m
Min elevation: 1 m
Total climbing: 1253 m
Total descent: -1249 m