Wilsons Prom is a national park about a two and a half hour drive from Melbourne. The Prom is essentially a peninsula at the southernmost point of the Australian mainland that juts out into the Bass Strait. The landscape is characterized by granite mountains, forests and hidden beaches and coves. Any expectations I had before embarking on the trip would ultimately be blown away by the sheer awesomeness of the Prom and its wildlife and landscapes.
The itinerary organized by my friend called for a circuit of roughly 53 kilometers over 4 days. Day 1 of our journey saw us parking at Telegraph Saddle and hiking to Sealers Cove. According to the overnight hike information provided by the park, this hike was a distance of 10.2 kilometers, rated as moderate difficulty and was expected to take 3 hours.
The hike was spectacular. We started out from Telegraph Saddle working our way across the forested mountainside, passing unusual trees and the locations of several large, recent landslides that created epic gorges on the side of the mountain. As we worked our way closer to sea level, we entered thicker rainforests and eventually swampy lowlands that were traversed by a boardwalk track. After hiking the 3 hours, we emerged from the forest and out into the middle of a pristine and completely deserted beach–Sealers Cove. Our camp for the night was located at one end of the cove, behind some large, picturesque boulders, just above the beach in the trees.
After making camp, we sat around chatting before we planned on starting dinner. As it was June and we were at one of the southernmost points of the continent, the sun set early, right around 5:00 pm. Although the moon and stars were bright, just off the beach and in the trees it was very dark. Because camp fires were prohibited within the park, our only sources of light were three small headlamps, one for each of us.
As I sat on a log with my back to the forest talking to my companions, I casually glanced to my right, the beam of my headlamp extending along the log. As I turned my head, there on the log approximately four feet away from me was a POSSUM! I was briefly startled by the animal’s stealthy appearance out of the darkness, but quickly realized it was a harmless common brushtail possum. We shooed the inquisitive animal away and left our camp to filter water, knowing he would likely return in our absence. I left the water-filtering duties early to return to camp to check our on food, and sure enough the possum had returned and was on top of one of our packs! I scared him off again, but the possum, un-intimidated, climbed the nearest tree just on the edge of our camp and sat perched watching me, his eyes glowing creepily in the beam of my headlamp.
The possum was later joined by a possum friend and the two lurked about until we retired for the night. If they came any closer, I don’t know, but in morning our food and snacks were still intact.
Read Part II here.
Click here for a link to the Wilsons Prom website.