Wilsons Promontory Northern Section, VIC

Summary: A real mix of easy beach walking, rock scrambling and tough off track sections through grass tree/banksia woodlands and heathy swamps. A remote section of the park with some tricky navigation across the flats. Be prepared for deep water creek crossings. Requires good map & compass navigational skills.  Book ahead to secure a hiking permit.

Location: 25 km SE of Fish Creek, VIC

Duration: 3 days

Distance: 63km

Difficulty: Hard (mix of easy to very hard sections)

Timing: Mid May 2013

Map: (Map to come)

Taking a lead from other bloggers I thought I might change tact with my trip notes this time around. Rather than provide a blow by blog description of the route taken on this trip, I’m going to stick to the highlights and the memorable occasions. This is remote country where excellent skills with map and compass are essential and rock climbing skills absolutely necessary for a traverse around the rocks. I fully discourage anyone from attempting this hike unless you have the necessary skills to undertake it safely. And I figure if you have these skills then you won’t require details of the route from me.

First off a word of warning: this hike is tough. Definitely do not undertake a scramble around the northern rocks (Biddies Cove to Tin Mine Cove) in wet conditions or on a high tide. Rock climbing with a pack is required and it would treacherous to attempt a scramble around. Once you are committed to the rock it is very difficult to retreat back inland.

Righto then… with that out of the way…

It was difficult to settle on an overall rating for this hike but I have to go with hard. There is a real mix of easy strolling including 5 Mile Road, Five Mile Becah, Three Mile becah and Chinaman Long Beaches; to 6 km, 5hour section of full on rock scrambling around granite boulders and slabby granite domes that descend straight into the seas; topped off with 10 km off track section through thick grassland, woodland and swamps between Chinaman Long Beach and Lower Barry Creek to the Five Mile Road.

Day 1 was essentially an 18km road bash along the Five Mile Road from the Millers Landing carpark to the Five Mile Beach Campsite and a short 3km section following a faint footpad over Monkey Point to Johnny Souey Cove. The long road walk was uneventful but provided a nice warm up for the long days to come. The easy pace was perfect for allowing my mind to drift and wander across the landscape and wind down from a busy week. I found myself at Five Mile Beach Camp Site for a late lunch before passing across the ridge line connecting Miranda Creek to Johnny Souey Cove. Sea Eagles soared directly above.  Johnny Souey Cove was amazing and became my own private beach for the night. Not a soul in sight. In fact I didn’t see anyone for 3 days.  The full moon rising above the sea spilled enough light onto the scene to enable cooking dinner without a headlamp.

Day 2 commenced with a short stroll to the end of Johnny Souey Cove and an off track section across Three Mile Point onto Three Mile Beach. Between here and Lighthouse Point I had one decision to make a) head inland across the Tine Mile Track or b) continue north from Lighthouse Point and traverse the rocks. Well you have read thus far and know that the rocks were chosen. The weather was perfect. Bright, sunny with a light breeze. Perfect enough for a swim half way along the beach.  If the weather was looking dodgy at all it would have been the inland route. The beach and ultralight kit made for quick walking and I found myself up near Entrance Point for lunch. What I didn’t anticipate was the time required to traverse across the rocks to Tin Mine Cove. There was the odd short section of beach around the northern tip of the Prom but for the most part the next 6.5 km was all rock. This would take around 5 hours. Granite boulders large and small strewn around the place and massive granite domes falling into the sea. This was a full body work out requiring at different times pull ups, squats and everything in between. My climbing skills were fully utilised. Any fisherman looking across the rocks would be mystified at the sight of a hiker with limbs sprawled to maximise friction between skin and rock and I crept across the thin edges of multiple granite domes. In several spots I found myself quite high above the water knowing that a fall would end with me in the drink with fully loaded pack. Not good. The sun was retreating and pushed me to move. But not fast. There were a couple of spills but prompted me to not rush things. Water was running low and I was not looking forward to being caught out after dark on the rocks. The alternative would be to bush camp in the thick heathy scrub. Enough drama. I made it to Tin Mine Cove with 20mins of sunlight to spare. Enough to get my tarp set up and restock water. The highlight of the day was definitely the rock traverse. Tin Mine Cove offered plenty of fresh water with a shallow stream gushing into the sea.

Day 3 started well. A quick traverse inland avoided yet more rocks along the coast and deposited me at the northern end of Chinaman Long Beach. Sea Eagles came in for a close look at the funny human walking south and played up for the camera allowing some great photos. At the southern end of the beach it was back into the scrub. The next 10km section was completely off track. A faint footpad came and went but was easy to lose through the open grass and heathlands. I have never seen so many grass-trees in one place. Huge expanses of the stuff. This section of track usually involves multiple creek crossings that can be up to 1.5m deep, particularly through Chinamans Swamp but I lucked out and all the crossings were dry. Nevertheless come prepared for water crossings if you are heading here. PV had marked sections of the route with marking tape but I wouldn’t rely on these being present if you intend to hike here either. Many had badly faded and I’m uncertain how often they get replaced. Map and compass skills are required.  Several section of the route passed through claustrophobicly (is that even a word?) thick groves of  vegetation. And so for the next 10km or so it was a matter of heading south through grassland, heathland and banksia woodland. Back onto Five Mile Road for the last road slog back to the car. My feet were beat and legs resembled pin cushions. I can taste the cold beer already.

Each day was around 20km in length.

Be sure to check this part of the world out.

10 Responses to Wilsons Promontory Northern Section, VIC

  1. davecwhyte says:

    did u mean not a “sole” in sight? good read – i had visions of u flailing in the drink with ya pack on!

  2. Pingback: Wilsons Prom May 2013 | Mick Beckers

  3. Clint Zikesch says:

    Great account Mick. I’m going with a group to do this Thursday – we expect to get to Miranda creek at high tide – haven’t found anything on how deep that might be. Any tips? We plan to go inland to Tin mine Cove and given the time of year would prefer to stay dry until the swamp so that at worst we just have a wet trek back to the car.

    Thank you!

    • mickbeckers says:

      G’day Clint. Thanks for your comment. You should be fine at high tide. The crossing itself is back from the ocean around 100m and there is a little bit of a drop down to the ocean, probably around 2m or so. The tide would have to be quite high for water to swamp the crossing point and be an issue. At the time of my trip there were a few pieces of drift wood across the deepest pools of Miranda Creek itself and shoes managed to stay dry. The river may fluctuate a bit with rainfall as well. Inland is a good idea. If I did this trip again I would go inland. Hopefully the swamplands are still relatively dry for you. Check on recent rainfall to be sure. It’s a great area and well worth it. Have fun.

  4. Clint says:

    Hi Mick, For the benefit of anyone else with a similar question: At high tide the Ocean does rise to the height of the creek. From the probing we could manage without losing anyone it was over head height and reasonably strong flowing. The water is brackish and black so without knowing what might lie in the creek (trees etc.) we decided it was not safe to cross until low tide. For us that meant camping the night. Johnny Souey beach is also completely covered at high tide and we elected to just explore around there for a day before returning. The water levels seemed to be higher than any accounts we had to work with, making the Chinaman creek crossing a risk for the shorter members of the party. The prospect of having to walk all the way back around from there was too much for a long weekend. Still a great experience. We will have a more comprehensive plan for next time!

    • mickbeckers says:

      Ah ha… thanks for the update.
      Apologies for the dodgy advice. Looking at the tide charts for 5 Mile Beach I reckon you guys hit the crossing on a particularly high, high tide. The chart shows 2.4 to 2.6m tides over the weekend just gone. I hadn’t picture these heights on providing advice that a crossing would be OK. Did you find the orange reflective markers for the crossing point? The crossing is at the narrowest and shallowest point across the creek. Further north and you would definitely be in the drink and well over head height as you say, and further south you would be contending with the ocean. Further advice to anyone with a similar question – look at up tide times and heights. An easy online source is willyweather.com.au

      Aerial image of the crossing is shown here:

      • Clint says:

        No problem.
        Your image does not seem to display (broken image icon) so I can’t compare with ours. Yes the reflective markers were easily spotted and the cleared trail through the scrub was really the only obvious way up. That was not the narrowest or most shallow point of crossing. I can only assume that the creek bed was washed out around there as the bottom was not visible for more than a meter width. At low tide the easiest crossing was close to the beach, around ankle depth – we crossed that point twice. At the point where the stream from the opposite hill enters Miranda Creek we made a crossing for water at low tide in the evening around knee depth. We had tide times and heights, from willyweather and BOM. The question was really about what that meant in terms of crossings, we knew we would be there at high tide (3pm) with low tides at 7pm and 8am (so if high tide was impassable [it was] we had options to; get wet, cross in the dark, wait, or backtrack / bush-bash, we decided to wait and given the conditions also figured on Chinaman creek being similarly affected). There was water in every stream and rivulet we came across so we put the lack of information down to most people doing the hike in much dryer conditions or crossing at low tides.

        Again for anyone else – fresh water is on the inland side of Miranda Creek.
        The marked camping area at Johnny Souey has a significant slope on it and not really usable. Seemed a strange choice given we could find what seemed to be an original and much more suitable site overgrown nearby. We had a great time and good weather for the time of year.

  5. mickbeckers says:

    Yep the original Johnny Souey campsite is much better than the new one. Another case of risk management gone made in light of last years flash flooding?

  6. mickbeckers says:

    I reckon you made the right choice for sure Clint. Most accounts I’ve read, walkers have had to contend with a lot of water, particularly through the swampy country around Chinamans Creek. Creek crossings upto 2m deep are not uncommon, especially after recent rains. I lucked out with my trip and knew it had been dry following summer.

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