Category Archives: national park

Three years is too long between Great Barrier Reef dives!

Along with my reduced frequency of blogging, it’s been hard to find time to get away in the past few years for warm water snorkeling and tropical beach trips. We last went to Port Douglas three years ago and finally made it back in August 2018 after a few aborted attempts to book in trips between house renovations, a wedding and other  big events.

It’s hard to believe some people get to dive on the Great Barrier Reef every week (or the commercial dive boat crew, just about every day). Coming from a fairly cool winter where the water temperature was around 9 degrees Celsius, jumping in 24 degree water in a rash vest and shorts was an amazing relief. And the abundance of life on the GBR is well known but no Attenborough documentary prepares you for the variety of fish, coral, sponges, invertebrates… a truly incredible sight every time.

I was one of the lucky few on our Wavelength cruise that spotted a white tip reef shark (in the slideshow below), though most of the snorkelers seemed pretty inexperienced and happy to bob around the surface, far from the hiding spots of the sharks and rays.

Wavelength also regularly maintains a coral garden, where pieces of coral are grafted onto small cement blocks and grown until then can be transplanted onto new ground. A fellow uni graduate working on the boat was pretty enthusiastic about the potential of these coral gardens, though expanding the project to compensate for widespread coral bleaching is nearly impossible in today’s warming ocean (and political climate).

 

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Wilsons Promontory – amazing spot for coastal hiking

Anyone who has ever travelled a decent amount of Australia could make a list of their top 10 places to visit. When it comes to Victoria, the most common one I hear is the Great Ocean Road and the 12 Apostles.

Having lived for three years at the end of the GOR and within an hour of the Apostles, I admit they are impressive, easy to get to  and make for some nice tourist happy snaps. But for some of Australia’s best (southern) beaches, Wilsons Promontory – known as the Prom – beats anything that big windy road has to offer.

Do a Google Search for Wilsons Prom though and beyond the great Parks Victoria pages, it’s hard to find a decent site with much details on things to do and see at the Prom. This despite the region having some of Australia’s best hiking, most beautiful beaches in the right conditions and a variety of overly-friendly wildlife (see third photo of the wallaby who wouldn’t leave us alone).

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Refuge Cove, Wilsons Prom

Refuge Cove above is an amazing spot – we were lucky to do the 16km hike over there from the Mt Oberon carpark in perfect cool hiking weather and only had five other couples in the spacious campground. Conditions are primitive – people who need five-star chalets or resorts at the end of a leisurely hike should go elsewhere. The tracks can get muddy and toilets at the Sealers Cove and Refuge Cove campgrounds are basic but fresh spring water is readily available at both sites. The cove is within a marine park BUT not the marine national park, so fishing is permitted. I carried a small and fairly useless handspear in my pack and caught some goatfish. The best part of the dive (in only boardshorts) was the variety of fish species spotted and the novelty of spearing without a thick wetsuit!

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Waterloo Bay, within the Wilsons Prom Marine National Park. Wow.

There are several choices for camping along the hike. As we had only three days and the need for five guys to have ready access to cold beer, two nights in Tidal River and one at Refuge Cove made sense. But with more time, another night at Sealers, Waterloo Bay (above) or the Lighthouse would have been worthwhile. The last two places are within the Marine National Park area, where fishing is banned and the inshore fish life is obviously thriving. Blue gropers and moray eels are common here, unlike open access coastal areas further west.

Wilsons Prom is well worth a visit for anyone with an interest in Australia’s natural beauty. It’s a totally different experience to the tropical Great Barrier Reef islands or our inland forests and for those with a reasonable level of fitness, has some challenging and rewarding hikes on offer.

This wallaby is definitely used to human company

This wallaby is definitely used to human company

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