It was many years ago that I first visited the Northern end of Wilson Promontory. My first trip in the mid 60’s was with a group of scouts and we walked out along the 5 mile road then to the beach, during that trip we visited Johnny Soueys Cove and 3 Mile Beach with the trip culminating in rock hoping around the coast from five mile beach to Sealers Cove before finishing the trip at the Oberon Carpark. It was a very enjoyable trip and one I have often thought about. Soon after I had the opportunity to revisit the area with the Melbourne Bushwalking club on this occasion we were dropped off by boat near Mt Singapore and the travelled south over Mounts Singapore and Hunter ultimately arriving at the end of the Five Mile Road.
Many years have passed but the allure of the Northern End of Wilsons Promontory National Park has remained. The park is much more regulated these days and for the northern prom you need to complete a “Wilderness permit application” . Whilst I can understand the need to ensure that hikers in this area can navigate along poorly marked trails (which are often overgrown) ford or swim rivers which can be over head height, navigate trackless swamps but the area is not wilderness, as the there are marked trails and designated campsites.
So to cut a long story short an opportunity arose and I took it, the boat that is. With the help of my brother we contacted Kraken Tours and they were willing to take the 2 of us to Tin Mine Cove, furthermore, they picked us up at the Foster YHA and within an hour we were standing on the beach at Tin Mine Cove considering which way to go.
The choice was simple we set up camp and decided to walk tomorrow. As a result I spent some time considering the surroundings, relaxing and enjoying the serenity.
The lights of the towns across Corner Inlet were clearly evident, as we settled in for the night. We awoke to a grey morning with the prospect of a shower or two along with a long walk through scrub. Now scrub on the prom can be high, and very prickly as well there are many varieties of grasses willing to attack you at any point. For this trip I had chosen to wear gaiters something I had not done for a very long time ago, I had also resurrected my Inov-8 370 boots for their final swan song trip. They survived well and I really wish Inov-8 had continued to produce them, as they were ideal for foot protection in the prickly and somewhat impenetrable scrub.
We climbed away from Tin Mine Cove into the scrub which had been severely burnt in the 2009 fires
The resurgent ti tree forest made for somewhat challenging track finding and reminded me of my earlier experiences on the prom, where tracks were wombat tracks, that is anything above 30 cm was covered in scrub some of which would attack you at the first opportunity.
As we rounded the spur connecting Tin Mine Hill with Corner Inlet, Chinamans Long Beach came into view. Whilst some walkers will continue south to the other end and the swamp with its challenging navigation and very deep river crossing we chose an easier route. As we walked along the beach the soldiers crabs were evident as the tide receded.
There were many crabs and I did wonder just how many there were. I did not have the time, nor the inclination to count them. Having turned inland we followed a trail that was much drier than I had expected, the trail passes through the saddle between Mt Hunter and Mt Roundback and as we approached the saddle I was surprised to come across a series of poles connected to a large steel cable. I assume that these were used to allow vehicles to travel between the two beaches without getting bogged or stuck in the sand.
We passed through the open saddle with views to Mt Hunter in the north and the now closed track which connected to Mt Margaret. I did wonder why it had been closed and the ranger at Tidal River indicated that there were some sensitive areas along the track, though I am unclear on what these sensitivities were. In my view the former track would make an ideal option for circuit walks which would avoid the swamps. A gradual descent passing the navigational beacon at Lighthouse Point provided us with stunning views of 3 Mile Beach.
The relaxing walk suddenly became a challenge as we were presented with a steep descent to the beach. What was even more intriguing was the rope with its equi distant knots which were intended to alleviate the challenges provided by the is slippery descent or ascent on the muddy slope. Once on the beach we considered the erosion, driftwood and the occasional trees left to decay.
Reaching the end of the beach we sought out the trail amongst the scrub which would take us to Johnny Soueys Cove our intended destination for the night. Passing through a small bay at which we contemplated camping, before moving on to the designated camping area at Johnny Soueys Cove, a bracken covered somewhat flat area. In years gone by I had camped closer to the water, these sites now contained recently planted no camping signs. Johnny Soueys Cove was everything I remembered a beautiful cove with views to the east and abundant fresh water. After setting up the tents we took our time to relax and enjoy the evening sunshine. Over the years my brother and I have spent very little time together and this trip enabled us to spend time chatting and recognising that in many ways we were very similar, even though with more than 10 years separating us we had developed similar interests and similar preferences when it came to hiking gear.
I was up early in the morning as I was determined to see the sunrise on this east facing beach, I found a flat rock and waited. I took many photos and was very happy to watch the changing light and the seagulls which decided to fly into view as I lay there.
Turning the camera in the opposite direction the red glow from the sun highlighted the colours of the lichen on the rocks
As I returned to camp the outgoing tide combined with the early morning light provided a wonderful array of sights.
It was a very windy day as we climbed out of Johnny Soueys and the white caps in the photo below are indicative of the conditions out to sea.
We descended to 5 Mile Beach and the occasional trees provided us with some respite from the winds as we descended steeply to Miranda Creek and the campsite. We had very much enjoyed our late start and time at Johnny Soueys Cove, but it was not until we reached 5 Mile beach that we realised there was a price to pay. Arriving at Miranda creek we quickly realised that the water was deeper than we expected and as we collected drinking water from a small stream flowing into Miranda Creek we recognised that we had to cross the rapidly rising inlet from the sea. Ultimately we were ready to cross the chest deep river. With only minor toe damage and one drowned mobile we reached the other side.
With a well sheltered campsite and the sun shining we hang out our clothes to dry, however, the cloud darkened and the onset of rain soon had us in our tents. The rain did abate and we were quickly out to look around and cook dinner, a hail storm soon had us back in the tents where we stayed as the thunder and lightening passed overhead.
Sunset and storm
The following morning the world was much brighter, albeit windy. We set off along the beach as the waves continued to expend their energy on the shoreline. We were grateful to leave the beach as the shrubbery provided some shelter from the cold southerly winds, it was evident that the trail was popular.
As Greg has indicated
the Five Mile Road is not the most inspiring walk however, passing through St Kilda Junction (formerly the MT Margaret track started here) the open heathland, burnt out woodland and valleys resplendent in large tree ferns helped to break the monotony.
Too quickly we were at the car park and being whisked to Tidal River where we were able to advise the ranger that we had survived.
In my normal manner I will comment on some of the items of gear I used on the trip.
Klymit X pillow, pillows, they are a personal choice and I am never really satisfied and keep searching for the perfect pillow. Well maybe, just maybe, the Klymit X Pillow is the one. It is easy to inflate, its x pattern ensures that you can place your head in a position where it does not slide off and one ear does not end up plastered all over the side of your head. The downside of this pillow is that there is no way to secure it and as a result it does slide on the mattress. Overall I am very happy with the pillow and expect to use it for a while to come.
Tarptent Notch, with the semi solid inner was ideal on this trip as once ensconced in the tent at no time did I feel any drafts` nor did I feel cold, though I must remember to carry better pegs (stakes) for sand.
this was the first outing for the TrailPix, and I was very impressed with its capabilities and its stability. I carried a spare bottom and middle section of a pacer pole for the third pole of the TrailPix, which worked perfectly and is an option I will continue to use, especially with the Tarptent Startospire where a third pole can be used for extra support.