If you plan to visit Australia and love nature; there are many easy day trips from Melbourne that you can do. One road trip that should be high on your list is Wilson Promontory. It is by far my favourite road trip into the wilderness. While I do recommend to go to Wilsons Prom for a few days, to make the most of this fabulous national park, you can also do it as a day trip from Melbourne. I’ve been a few times to Wilsons Prom and have indeed fallen in love with the place.
For now, I give you an overview on how to get to the Wilsons Promontory National Park by car, as this is an exciting drive and I'd say a journey of itself.
How to get from Melbourne to Wilsons Promontory
The easiest way to get to the Wilson Prom is to hire a car in Melbourne and head East on the highway towards the Dandenong Ranges. You will drive through the beautiful countryside to reach Cranbourne, one of the central South Gippsland's towns on this route.
The best places to visit near Wilsons Promontory
On your way to the Wilsons Prom, there are interesting places to visit and worth a stop. I suggest planning at least 4 hours for the drive from Melbourne CBD. Here are my picks for the best small towns in the southeast regions of Victoria.
Small Towns near Wilsons Promontory
You can stop in Cranbourne for a short visit if you want, but if you are more into nature, you can drive south to Tooradin, a lovely fishing village, an accessible location for fishing in Victoria. Take a stroll along its peaceful inlets to breath in the fresh ocean air. Keep driving till you get to Loch, where you can take a walk along the wooden bridge.
The next stop is Koramburra, a hub for the South Gippsland’s attractions. A former colonial township with a rich coal heritage. The town is also famous for its stunning murals, take a stroll along the main road to browse through its quirky shops.
Koramburra is also famous for its Coal Creek Community Park and Museum. Just a short drive from town, you can walk through the old village which is well maintained and showcases its glamorous mining heritage through the old railway, its buildings, the lakes. I couldn't believe it; it nearly took me an hour to visit it all, but it is worth a stop! There is no entry fee to Coal Creek, but a free offer is welcome to help out the great work of the local community.
From there you keep driving to Leongatha and further south to Meeniyan, a small village with a historic hotel. From there you soon reach Foster, the last township, approx. 60 km before getting to the Wilsons Promontory. There are shops there where you can buy food. Do your shopping in Foster cause there is only a small grocery shop at the Tidal River Visitor Centre with a limited offer. When in Foster follow the road down to Yanakie and from there to Tidal River which is where you can park your car and start your walks or check-in your accommodation.
How to get to Wilsons Prom from Melbourne by public transportation
There is also a bus from Melbourne to Wilsons Promontory. It takes you through the same driving route, you may have to change in Koo-Wee-Rup though, but this bus connection is excellent. I went by bus from Foster back to Melbourne, and it's a high-speed service, and it costs only 23 dollars. I paid 16 dollars to the Dandenong Ranges. The only downside is that once you get to Foster, there is no local bus service to the Wilsons Promontory National Park.
So hiring a car is the most convenient way of exploring this area. If you don’t want to drive then going on a tour is probably the best option for you. Most trips are day-tours though if you're going to go on a Wilsons Promontory Tour.
Alternative routes for the Wilsons Prom Itinerary
There are alternative driving routes to get to Wilsons Promontory National Park. On my first solo road trip, I went from Melbourne to Phillip Island first, and from there I drove to the Prom. The drive from Cowes to Yanakie takes you to the most southerly point of Australia through stretches of green countryside to Wonthaggi. From there it is worth taking a 20 km detour along the coastal drive on the Bunurong Road, further south onto the Cape Peterson Road to Inverloch, the biggest town in the area.
The drive is comfortable and relaxed and offers spectacular views of the ocean, with many outlooks and staircases to the beach.
You will not need a GPS navigator; you can either use Google Maps or download an app to get your drive organised. The distance from Melbourne is 230 kilometres, which means approx. Three hours with no stops but plan between 4 and 5 hours if you want to see all the places.
Here is a small map of this driving route from Melbourne to Wilsons Prom.
Wilsons Promontory Accommodation
If you plan to stay overnight the best option is to camp or book a cabin. Wilsons Prom and Tidal river offer varied options ranging from luxury cabins to modest lodges with shared bathroom facilities, to basic camping to glamping facilities. If camping is not your thing, you need to book your accommodation near Wilsons Promontory. Yanakie is the nearest place, and it offers cottages, lodges and also private accommodation like Airbnb.
As for Wilsons Promontory accommodation, you will have to make a choice. If you want to stay centrally located, you are probably better off booking the Wilsons Prom Cabins. If you love camping Tidal River is the place.
Wilsons Prom gets very busy during summer and school holidays, so if you don't book months ahead, you are bound to stay somewhere else in Yanakie, Foster or even further away. So make sure that you book well in advance.
For all accommodation options, check out the Victoria National Parks website. It is the only site I'd use if you are looking for a cabin or a camping experience.
What to do at Wilsons Prom
The main reason why people travel to the Prom is walking and seeing wildlife. No other national park beats the beauty of the Wilsons Promontory, in my experience, with regards to wildlife encounters and the walking trails. It’s one of those places where you can keep going back over and over again without getting tired.
Wilsons Promontory Wildlife
It's rare to see so many native animals in the wild like at the Wilsons Prom. And the abundance is genuinely stunning, from lorikeets, blue wren, and many more birds that welcome you every morning, to wombats that stroll undisturbed near your cabin to wild kangaroos that graze in the open expanses, it's a treat that you get at the Prom and one of the best places for seeing animals in the wild.
Wilsons Promontory Day Walks
Over 20 walking tracks are ranging from easy, short to long walks with multi-day hikes and overnight hikes. Tidal River is the main campsite at Wilson Promontory. Yanakie is a 30km drive from the Tidal River Visitor Centre.
If you only have one day, you will have to make hard choices. In 24 hours I did 15 km of walks from the Corner Inlet Marine Park to the highest point in Tidal River Outlook. I saw flocks of black swans and a variety of water birds to a breathtaking view over Norman Beach Bay and Squeaky Beach to the highest point of Tidal Overlook.
Wilson Promontory offers stunning views and a pristine environment that reminded me of Tasmania. If you can, plan 2-4 days and do more of the beautiful walks in Wilsons Prom.
How to plan and organise your Trip to the Wilsons Promontory
The best way to organise your trip to Wilsons Prom is to hire a car. You may prefer self-driving than a guided tour, even as a solo traveller. I made this trip on my own and loved it. A road trip is easy and fun, and it allows you to see so much of the country on your way as well as at the Prom because it allows you to drive around freely. And you will use the car to move around quite often.
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