LAKES COAST VISITOR GUIDE I PAGE 17 LEONGATHA WILSONS PROMONTORY FOSTER TOORA PORT WELSHPOOL PORT ALBERT YARRAM Fall in love with The Prom Wilsons Promontory, or The Prom, as it is affectionately known, is one of Victoria’s most-loved places. At the southernmost tip of mainland Australia, The Prom offers spectacular scenery of huge granite mountains, open forest, rainforest, sweeping beaches and coastlines. Wilsons Promontory National Park was first reserved as a national park in 1898 and now covers 50,512 hectares. It includes a light station perched on a small peninsula jutting into the wild seas of Bass Strait and a number of offshore islands. Explore the park and you’ll find fantastic beaches, cool fern gullies, great views, spectacular rock formations and abundant wildlife. It is home to more than 700 native plant species, 30 kinds of mammal, from tiny antechinuses to kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, koalas, seals and bats, and approximately 180 species of birds. Reptiles, amphibians, insects and other invertebrates are also numerous and diverse. The small islands within the national park are home to colonies of penguins, seabirds and seals with granite cliffs plunging below the surface to the deep reefs. Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park is Victoria’s largest marine protected area at 15,550ha, extending along 17km of mainland coastline. It is a diver’s paradise with spectacular under-water scenery. Divers will experience fascinating sponge gardens, a technicoloured assemblage of sponges, sea tulips, sea whips, lace corals and seafans, brilliant coloured fish at home swimming through them. Back on dry land, great bushwalks extend from under an hour to over three days, with accommodation options including camping and caravanning, huts, cabins, wilderness retreats or lodges. As the only township within Wilsons Promontory National Park, Tidal River is where visitors will find a general store and take-away food shop as well as camping and cabin accommodation. Several walking tracks start/end at Tidal River, making it an ideal base for exploring The Prom. CRUISE THE PROM Summer and autumn cruising at Wilsons Promontory is an incredible time of year to be exploring this magnificent national marine park. Start your journey from the southern Gippsland town of Port Welshpool aboard Wildlife Coast Cruises’ 19-metre modern luxury vessel, the Brianna Lee . Cruise along the stunning eastern coastline of The Prom, viewing white sandy beaches, spectacular rock formations and regular native wildlife sightings such as wedged-tailed eagles. Marine life is also abundant where you will find playful Australian fur seals that love to come closer to get a better look at you. Common and bottlenose dolphins are regularly sighted too, surfing and jumping alongside the wake of the boat. During these warmer months you will want to bring your swimming gear as a stopover in Refuge Cove is the perfect spot for a swim, with picturesque turquoise waters, white sands and surrounding forest. This remote cove is only accessible via hiking or the water, proving an exclusive experience. A range of delicious catering is provided during the trip with morning tea, lunch, snacks and afternoon tea served onboard, and even a licensed bar for an afternoon beverage. Further south you will find the historic Wilsons Prom Lighthouse, built in 1853 and set above enormous granite cliffs that mark the most southerly point of the Australian mainland. Another highlight of the trip is seeing the aptly nicknamed island, Skull Rock, a towering rock formation with a cave 130 metres wide and 60 metres tall. In good conditions Brianna Lee can get right up and underneath this soaring landmark. Then relax and enjoy a leisurely return trip back to Port Welshpool. This is Wilsons Prom as you have never seen it before! This cruise runs until early April and is an experience not to be missed. Based in Phillip Island, find Wildlife Coast Cruises in the Phillip Island pages. Explore the spectacular coastline of Wilsons Prom, including the aptly named Skull Rock, aboard Wildlife Coast Cruises’ Brianna Lee .