trail-hiking-northern-promontory
  • Length: 60km

  • Duration: 3-4 days

  • Grade: 5

  • Style: Circuit

  • Start: 5 Mile Road Car Park

  • End: 5 Mile Road Car Park

  • Location: Wilsons Promontory National Park

  • Closest Town: Yanakie

  • Distance from CBD: 225km

  • State: VIC

  • Latitude: -38.92181517

  • Longitude: 146.3025767

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2WD Access

4WD Access

Public Transport

Bitumen Road

Gravel Road

Steep Road

Winding Road

Speed Bumps

Vehicle Ford

Entry Fee

Large Car Park

Small Car Park

Accessible Parking

Accessible Toilet

Public Toilets

Drinking Water

Untreated Water

Picnic Shelter

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Wilsons Promontory National Park...

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Concrete Path

Timber Boardwalk

Gravel Path

Sandy Trail

Rough Trail

Undefined Trail

Prams & Strollers

Manual Wheelchair

Motorised Wheelchair

Bicycle Trail

Mountain Bike Trail

Historic Rail Trail

Dog Friendly

Urban Walk

Coast & Beach

Historic Lighthouse

Waterfalls & Lakes

Rainforest Walk

Goldfields & Mining

Heritage Walk

Aboriginal Art

Alpine Region

Alpine Huts

Exposed Ledges

Rock Scrambling

Steep Terrain

Bush Bashing

River Crossings

Scenic Viewpoints

Well Marked

Drinking Water

Untreated Water

Fishing Spots

Swimming Spots

Overnight Campsites

Trail Running

Horse Riding

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Wilsons Promontory - Northern Circuit is a 60km, grade 5 circuit hike, located in Wilsons Promontory National Park, Victoria. The hike should take approximately 3-4 days to complete.

Warning

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.

Hike Summary

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)

Track Notes

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.

Downloadable forms

Hiker Self Assessment Form

Overnight Hike Application Form

Overnight Hiking Guide

Getting there

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.

Tips

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.

GPX File

Total distance: 58995 m
Max elevation: 174 m
Min elevation: 1 m
Total climbing: 1253 m
Total descent: -1249 m
Download file: Wilsons Promontory - Northern Circuit.gpx

Hikes Nearby

61 thoughts on “Wilsons Promontory – Northern Circuit (60km)

  1. Hi Darren and Julie, just found this 🙂 Very helpful thanks as I am starting this hike next Monday! Keep up this wonderful work with your site! Looking forward to either joining you both on another hike or using your site more! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Izabella. We look forward to hearing how much you enjoy the hike. Please post any trail notes or comments on the hike when you have completed it. Look forward to catching up soon.

  2. hey, I did this hike on the weekend and just wanted to thank you soo much for the GPX file you provided! That literally was gold for us to find our way in the dense bush sometimes :).
    So again, thank you so much for sharing that!

    1. That’s fantastic to hear. I am doing this hike over the Easter weekend. How easy was it to find drinking water?

    2. There’s plenty of water at Tin Mine Cove campsite and Lower Barry Creek campsite. Drank the Tin Mine Cove water even untreated because it’s fast stream and looks very alright ;).
      There is also some water at Johnny Souey Cove campsite, however it’s quite stale there so not sure of the quality.

      BTW: We found hardly any tape in the area of Three Mile Point (just after Johnny Souey Cove campsite when heading north) and most of the tape was totally faded as well already (so it was white instead of pink). Maybe it was just us not finding the right trail but we eventually just bush bashed our own trail up there, so be prepared ;). That’s where your GPX file came really handy for the rough directions where we have to go.

      And the Chinaman swamp is totally dry BTW because there was hardly any rain this season. So no swamp to fight through whatsoever.

  3. Completed this hike on 27 March 2016. Found water near the five mile creek camp site. Look across the estuary from the campsite. There is a tree with an orange reflector. Approximately 50 left of the reflector you will see the mouth of a gully. Water can be found here.

    Jonny Souey was stagnant and in short supply.

    Tim Mine Camp has a creek running into the beach. Fresh water can be found here.

    Lower Barry Creek has flowing water.

    Camp sites were all good for a number of tents except for Johnny Souey. Don’t bother trying to camp here.

  4. Did this hike over Easter this year. We were fortunate enough to have a dry swam crossing. If you are planning this it is important to watch the tides and know how to read a map and follow a bearing as we came across a lot of people who had become lost for hours in some sections.

    1. Hi Nathan. The campsite at Johnny Souey is on the headland near the beach. It is tiny and only suitable for a few small tents. Water is hard to find there too and last time I was there it was only a trickle. We camped at five mile beach then headed straight to Tim mine cove

  5. Hi
    I am about to embark on the north loop and think your trail map would be a great asset but am wondering which GPX app to use to open it. Does anyone have suggestions.
    Thanks
    S

    1. I use pocket earth on iPhone. I’d suggest taking a topo map and compass though as I’ve come across people navigation with a phone on this circuit and they were list as their phone battery had died.

  6. Hi Sophie
    Did you end up doing the northern circuit? I’m thinking of competing this hike in a few weeks so looking for any updates from people who have done it recently. Any information would be much appreciated (i.e. water supply, navigation etc)
    Thank you in advance!

    Iryna

  7. Hi Iryna,

    Did you end up doing this hike? If so what was the swamp like – wet or dry, given the recent dry?

    Am supposed to be doing the Buller Huts trial starting this Sunday, but some fires have started there today so trying to scramble as plan be as we’re already booked to fly down from Qld!

    Cheers,
    Leith

    1. Good idea to alter your plans. I have a few friends who were doing the Buller Huts Trail and had to walk out yesterday due to the fires. Thankfully they are safe.

    2. Hi Leith!

      My apology for not replying earlier ! I didn’t get any notifications about new comments and didn’t check this page for months!
      I know this info not much of a use now but we ended up doing a walk in Buller-Howitt area (Mt Koonika/Mt Speculation /Mt Cobbler). But still thinking of doing this northern circuit some time .. What about you, did you end up going there?

      Iryna

  8. Wilson’s Prom Northern Loop:

    Decided to go clockwise (which seems to be the less popular route) as we wanted to have a rest day at 5 mile beach. Big thing to note that when you are going around 3 mile point (from 3 mile beach to Jonny Suey) the .gpx file is misleading – there is a newer track which is a lot easier to follow. We only found it after getting stuck and bushbashing trying to follow the .gpx file. It is closer to the ocean and seems to match the track on google maps (at least we found it using google maps in the end. This does not seem to be an issue if you are going anti-clockwise as the start of the track turnoff is hard to miss.

    Day 1: Five mile road to Lower Barry Creek

    Easy walk along the 4wd track to the turnoff to Lower Barry Creek. From there the trail becomes much more difficult to follow. There were lots of pink bits of tape marking the trail which was helpful but every now and then we had to backtrack and find the path again as we had gone down and animal trail. There is a section that goes over rocks but just follow the cairns (stacked rocks) and you will see where the trail goes. Used the GPS occasionally just to check we were on the right track. The track is very overgrown so recommend changing into long pants as our legs got killed.

    Water at Lower Barry Creek was great. Stagnant in a couple of areas but we went a little upstream and got flowing water that tasted good. We carried extra water from here as we had heard that Tin Mine Cove water was not the best.

    Day 2: Lower Barry Creek to Tin Mine Cove

    Similar walking – track is very overgrown and difficult to find. It took us about 4 ½ hours to get to Chinamans Long Beach. GPS was useful as we got lost a couple of times. Again, it was a bit painful to walk through with all the overgrown bushes. It was also helpful being in a larger group as it made spotting the pink tape a lot easier.

    Chinaman swamp: There were three bits where it got quite muddy. Not a lot of water in the swap (about knee height at its worst). Once we accepted that we were going to get wet feet it was fairly straightforward just to walk through it. A lot better than I expected (but it was quite dry when we did it.

    Once we made it to the beach, things were pretty straightforward. A long walk on the beach and then a couple extra km’s of easy track got us through to tine mine cove.

    Water at Tin Mine Cove was not the best – tasted of blood. We went up the creek a little way from the beach but it didn’t really improve – quite a bit of sediment in the water and there were parts where it has a blue oil layer on top. We boiled it for our meals which worked out well but tried not to drink it too much.

    Day 3: Tine Mine Cove to Johnny Suey Cove

    Retraced our steps from the previous day before coming to the beach turnoff to Johnny Soey. The track starts well but gradually gets worse. It was relatively easy to follow but quite overgrown so again – long pants/gaiters and long shirt would all be helpful. We lost the track once or twice but were able to find it again or resort to the GPS. The .gpx file was helpful. I used it with the app OsmAnd (on android) and it worked well.

    We got to the beach eventually and thought it would be easy from there (WRONG!). The beach itself was easy but getting across three mile point to Johnny Suey Cove was the most frustrating thing ever.

    We took the first path that had some pink tape but it was VERY hard to follow and we got lost and bush bashed for a little while. Eventually we got to a point where we were 250 metres from the beach but could not go any further. We were on the .gpx track but there was no track to be seen.

    Eventually I looked at google maps and saw that the track on there was actually a bit further down. So we backtracked and I went and investigated and sure enough, we found the actual track which was very easy to follow and had been recently cleared.

    So the actual track is a lot closer to the ocean then the track on the .gpx file (which appears to be a much older track). So my advice, keep walking further along the beach until you find the newly cleared track. We spent about 2 ½ hours trying to walk this 2km section so finding the actual track is very useful as it will cut out about 2 hours of frustration!

    If you are walking the other way (anti-clockwise) this does not seem to be an issue as the track starts at a pretty obvious point.

    Water: the creek at Jonny Suey was not moving. We were able to collect water from it and it did taste pretty good but it would be worthwhile filtering it or putting some purification tablets in it.

    The estuary is brackish and we didn’t explore it that much to see if it was fresh further up.

    Day 4: Johnny Suey to File Mile Beach (quasi rest day)

    A bit hilly but easy track to follow (although again there is a lot of brush). Didn’t take long.

    Water at Five Mile Beach is through a little stream on the northern side of the estuary. There was a little trickle that was flowing. I got a cuttlefish bone and wedged it in so that it made it easy to collect water directly into a bottle. It tasted good and was good quality (the estuary itself is brackish).

    Day 5: File Mile Beach to Five Mile Car Park

    Walked 1.5 km’s along the beach to the 4wd track and then straightforward walk back to the cars. Easy to collect water at a couple of creeks along the way although they are closer to the end of the track.

    Conclusion: tough walk but doable provided you have the right gear and are prepared for lots of bush bashing. Just remember that the .gpx is misleading around 3 mile point. Otherwise the .gpx file was very helpful. Water is a bit of an issue – so suitable purification/filtering is recommended.

  9. Completed this hike 13-15 June.
    The swamp is 1m deep in places and as cold as you’d expect in winter.
    Water was available near all the campsites.
    Large sections where the track is unmarked and poorly defined.
    Expect to be pushing through thick brush so avoid hiking on wet days. Gaiters, long pants, long sleeves recommended or you’ll feel like you were worked over by a cheese grater.
    Right next to Five Mile Campsite is an estuary exit that must be crossed to head north – best to attempt at low tide or you’ll need to swim.
    I completed it in a clockwise direction but I think I’d do it anticlockwise if I did it again. Three Mile point crossing is more visible coming from the south and it leaves the swamp crossing until the last day (so that you don’t risk being wet for the whole trip). Five mile campsite to the carpark is a short section on the beach followed by only walking on a 4wd road.
    Started at 8am from Five Mile Carpark and completed 2pm on day 3 – wasn’t pushing particularly hard.

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