“The idea was to create something like a top-notch hotel feel,” quotes The Mercury of Richard Nilsson, the Swedish designer behind the new look of the twin Spirit of Tasmania ferries which travel between Port Melbourne (Victoria) and Devonport (Tasmania).
I won’t bore you with how many return trips we’ve taken aboard one or other of the ferries (strangely, it’s been more often number II), but since the refurbishments were completed in August we have been keen to see for ourselves what has changed. (If you haven’t been before, or if it’s been a while, check out my photos of before the refurbishments here.)
Having received permission to come aboard (you had to apply in the week or two before the Open Day) we decided to catch a tram (well, two trams) across town to Port Melbourne. The route 109 tram stops about 100m from Station Pier. Given we live pretty close to a tram stop, and the high likelihood of experiencing lots of bother trying to find a park had we taken the car, tramming it was definitely the way to go.
Cool! Stilt walkers, balloons, and mini SoT’s! Getting excited now!
There’s the big ship! I’ve never walked through here before!
They even had SoT hats! (and no event is complete without a BBQ)
There weren’t queues, but enough people were wandering in the right direction so it was unlikely anyone was going to get lost – even if there hadn’t been plenty of red-shirted, boat-hatted people greeting people and making sure we didn’t get lost.
Up in the check-in lounge there were a dozen or so Tasmanian tourist stands, to whet the appetite of prospective travellers.
There were about a dozen information stalls to help you plan your next holiday
A bit of Tassie for everyone in the Check-in Lounge
Passing by all the photos in the hall I started to feel the usual excitement I get when we board the big red boat. Pity we weren’t sailing off to Tassie today!
Lots of fabulous photos – many places we’ve been, some still to discover
I guess ‘The Revamped’ would have been a bit long…
Ooooh! How exciting! Everything is about to be revealed!
Hmmm, this bit feels like Crown Casino… (I haven’t boarded this way before so I don’t know if this has changed or not.)
Oooh, I almost feel like I’m in Crown Casino!
First change – no tourism shop. Now there’s a Tourism Hub. There is a desk to the left where (hopefully) a staff member will be there to answer any questions passengers have.
The Tourism Hub replaces Tourism Onboard at the rear of Deck 7
Lots of pamphlets still, and a screen of course
Walking up the port (left) side of the ship there is now a BYO Library (officially named the Reading Room) where there used to be The Leatherwood Restaurant. Clearly this area is for quiet activities – if you want to make noise, there is plenty of space on upper decks.
Leatherwood Restaurant has become a BYO library
The light shade in the ‘library’ was very nice – scrolls of huon pine – Deck 7
Next to the library is the new reception area. I wouldn’t have chosen red, and continuing red along the corridor seemed a little over the top, but hey – that’s just my opinion, and it’s just a small area of Deck 7.
Not sure if it feels more like a school corridor or fire department, but it is very red around this small section of Deck 7 now
Turning the corner was the next surprise – the new shop! The Pantry will almost certainly meet your (or the kids’) sugar/salt/caffeine requirements, but the most notable difference is the lack of souveniers now. (I hope you stocked up on your last trip as we did!)
Tasmania Onboard has become The Pantry
The Pantry has also kicked out the pokies! And I can’t say I’m sorry to see them go. It was the only inclusion I really disliked about the previous layout of the ships.
Ahead was more lounge area, with a touch of blue, and lovely Tasmanian scenery instead of TV screens.
The pokies have gone! And so is all the red furnishings from before. Very club-like here
The use of evocative Tasmanian imagery (all in greyscale) throughout the ship works well
The old reception area is now also lounge, as is where the shop (Tasmania Onboard) used to be.
Reception used to be straight ahead, and the shop to the right
I’m not certain if anything has changed in the cinemas, but this is how they are now. Red on the left, and blue on the right. (I don’t think you have to read too much into that.)
Left-side cinema has red seats
Right-side cinema has blue seats
Onto the cabins.
Not much has changed. ‘Soft furnishings’ simply means the blinds, possibly the upholstery on the chairs, and I’m fairly sure the carpet in the rooms has been replaced. The bunks and bathrooms appear to be the same as usual. The Deluxe suites feel noticeably smaller, but they’re still a lot roomier than any of the other cabins. (Note: the 4 bed porthole cabin photo was from Deck 8)
Four bed cabin on Deck 7
New soft furnishings in the cabins – Twin porthole cabin, Deck 7
Four bed porthole cabin, Deck 8
A corner deluxe suite, Deck 7
A brief spell outdoors (still on Deck 7)…
It’s a nice day to be on the outside deck, and there’s a ship along-side us!
I guess we’re refuelling
…past the place we used to hang out, read a paper and have a drink whilst waiting until it was time for dinner – the lavender of Bridestowe has been replaced by the Aurora Australis…
Different furnishings again, now heading down the starboard side of Deck 7
Celebrating the Aurora Australis, the southern lights
…before finally getting a look at the new dining area. Goodbye Captains Table. Hello TMK (The Market Kitchen)! No more table service and white table cloths, I’m afraid. Now we’re all taking a tray and loading our own plates, I think. The menu looks familiar, but I wonder how long it’ll last. As for the condiments rack? Hmmm, classy.
TMK is now the only dining area aboard
The menu from the Leatherwood, the service from the Captain’s Table
I think the condiments rack does spoil it a little
Dining area extends all the way down to the stern of Deck 7
More scrolled wood lightshades for the Tasmanian touch
I think this light was there previously…?
Well, that’s Deck 7 covered. Sleeping, eating, and a bit of lounging.
Unless you’re sleeping on Deck 8, there won’t be much there to see for you – unless you’re here on an open day! So, check it out!
The Recliners have all been replaced. I had a brief sit in one. It felt pretty good, but I’m not in a hurry to give up booking a cabin in favour of the ‘cheap seats’ – especially as I like having a shower at least once every 24 hours. But if you’re not so fussy, and if you’re not taking a whole pile of luggage with you (or planning to bring a lot of souvenirs back), then these might be the best option for you.
The Recliners on Deck 8 have all been replaced so they should be better than ever
Native Tasmanian woods are much admired. It was nice to see them used onboard
Moving up to Deck 9 now – brace yourselves!
Rear of Deck 9 is where things started to get realy funky
Well, they said it would be different. It’s all to encourage more day sailing passengers.
Fake grass is an interesting idea
Another bar which will apparently be open for day and night sails
More funky furnishings – I didn’t test how well they slide around
I thought I’d discovered the pokies, but no – it’s a different gaming space!
It actually looks nice outside today, but the sheltered door is designed that way for a reason
Deck 9 always felt more weather tight than Deck 10, so having lounge areas here wasn’t too surprising. But would there be more of the same upstairs?
Well, no. It was More.
Deckchairs and fake grass on Deck 10
Deck 10 is for lounging with an ‘outdoorsy’ feel
Lights and TV’s everywhere
A play area for small, but not too small kids on Deck 10
I’m sure they’ve thought about things sliding around in heavy seas. Of course they have. Because not every sail is a pleasant day like this one was.
Spirit of Tasmania 1 sign and flags
Outside on top Deck 10 – it’s often too cold and windy to stay out here too long, but today was perfect
It was breezy enough to fly the flag
Now how do you get everyone up on Deck 10 to come down again? Send up the band!
Hey hey! It’s the band come to entertain us on Deck 10
It turns out the engaging trio were a ruse to get us to follow them the stairwell and out
They were very good, and I’ll wager that most of the people upstairs followed them to see where they went, not knowing that we were being surreptitiously being escorted out.
Playing and walking down the stairs was quite a trick. I’m not sure where the trio exited, but we had to walk down to Deck G3; this is usually a cargo/freight deck. Cars are usually parked on Decks 5 & 6, sometimes Deck 4 if it’s really busy.
Never been on G3 before – usually freight comes on this level
The stairwell-lift area mid-ship
Head for the light!
And that was it! We disembarked at ground level and were treated to a fantastic sight of the Spirit of Tasmania – you may recognise it from their ads. I find it fascinating the way the sides at the front also come away from the ship.
So, overall impression?
Bass Strait is not the Mediterranean; the weather ranges from windy to blowing a gale, so the ‘bringing the outdoors in’ idea with the use of the fake grass and garden furniture struck a chord that didn’t resonate true with my memories of previous crossings.
I didn’t test the furniture to see if it was bolted to the floor, but there is a lot on Deck 9 & 10 that looked like it wasn’t secured. If bad weather is forecasted, there may be a lot for the staff to put away for passenger’s safety. It’ll be interesting to see how long this lasts.
Ditto with the bars on those levels. I was advised that the Bars on Decks 9 & 10 would be open for day sailings (as you’d expect) andwinter sailings (for at least a few hours. Something to watch with interest. I certainly hope that Deck 10 is a little more air-tight now, as it used to get a bit chilly up there during winter.
We are both very sorry that The Leatherwood restaurant has been scrapped. Having only one sitting a night did not improve profitability, but the demand was certainly there to do two sittings – even in winter. Now, instead of racing to get a restaurant reservation, I wonder if we’ll be hurrying to get a small table for dinner – despite the expanded dining area.
It’ll be interesting to compare our next voyage to our previous experiences.
Last August we left Wilsons Promontory Nation Park (aka “The Prom”) with a sense of frustration that we couldn’t explore very much of the park in one-day-return walks. This had to be amended.
There are two multi-day circuits you can walk in the park – northern and southern – that have campsites spaced at reasonable distances along the way. I’ve read that the southern circuit is the more popular, easier and better defined of the two. The southern circuit also includes optional side walks to mainland Australia’s most south-eastern point and most southerly point; both of which we hoped to bag on this trip.
With the added lure of being able to stay at the lightstation at the south-eastern corner, a mere 20km (roughly) from Tidal River, plans were made to return. It would mean at least two days of long walks to get there and back, but if that’s what it was going to take, then so be it. As mentioned in my previous post we aren’t equipped for camping which is why this would be an all-or-nothing dash between Tidal River and the Lightstation (and back again). If we were also camping we’d probably do it as a 4 or 5 night walk, and travel only half the distance each day that we did.
Our Destination – Wilsons Promontory Lightstation
In preparing for the walk we found there to be a lack of detailed information about both the walk and the accommodation at the lightstation from Parks Victoria – or maybe the information provided is of usual standard and we were just nervous first-timers. I’m not sure.
In any case, we already had an SV Map from our previous visit (see August 2013 Part 1 & Part 2) which, while not quite pocket size, actually gives you the type of information that is of greatest benefit when preparing for walks; trivial details like contour lines, distances between points, landmarks etc – the kind of details you don’t get on Parks Victoria’s maps. Perusing photos shared on Google Maps will convince you that taking your camera along is a good idea (if you weren’t already planning to do so), but likewise doesn’t greatly assist in giving you much of an idea of what to expect along the way.
For the accommodation side of things, the greatest insight (and a large part of the inspiration) was provided by Greg of Hiking Fiasco fame who visited the lighthouse back in 2009. (Note: his photos are from Cottage 5 which currently sleeps about 10 people.) It was this post of Greg’s that lead me to embark on creating our own menu of hiking food – see previous post.
Therefore, our goals for this expedition were twofold:
1. to make it to the lighthouse & return again safely
2. to take enough photos to support a detailed blog post to help anyone else planning to walk to the lighthouse for the first time get a better idea of what to expect
Day 1: Tidal River to Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse (South East Lightstation) via Oberon Bay Walking Track then Telegraph Track
Our route to Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse
Having driven down from Melbourne the day before, Black Cockatoo’s studio cottage (just oust side the park in Yanakie) was ‘base camp’, allowing us to enjoy a good night’s sleep before rising early and excited, ready for our first big day of walking.
You can’t pass up the opportunity to take a few photos of the sunrise when it presents itself like this, though.
We’d weighed our packs before leaving home. Despite last minute culling of one or two more items that morning, with the addition of our water bottles mine would have weighed 16.5kg or so and Stephen’s was about 18kg. Ooof!
It was a quiet drive down to Tidal River; not too many people on the road, and no wildlife either. There’s no point being too early, as the Visitor Centre doesn’t open until 8:30am. We arrived at about 8:45am, presented ourselves with booking confirmation at the main desk and were given a sticker to display inside the car’s windscreen. Despite the Parks Victoria website suggesting that we’d need to collect a permit (each?):
…nothing was given or mentioned. We were asked to check in again on our way out – and then we were free to go! I asked if there were any track issues we should be aware of, but apparently there are none at present.
By the time we put our boots on, packed up the car and made a last comfort stop it was 9:15am. Well and truly time to head off.
Look – people! (There were very few last August)
Caught unawares, looking happy, about to set off
Note: The shortest path to the lighthouse is to drive to the top of Telegraph Saddle (Oberon) Carpark, leave your car there (only Parks Victoria vehicles are allowed further), and follow Telegraph Track the whole way down. The shortest possible route (per our SV Map) indicated that to be 17.9km. We did not chose this option because:
(1) Stephen had read comments suggesting that it is less safe to leave your car up at the saddle carpark (and we like the Mini just as it is) so parking it right outside the Visitor Centre & police station (though we’ve never seen signs of police actually there – possibly it’s a peak season thing) seemed like the safest choice; and
(2) We’d read that the Telegraph Saddle Track is a bit boring, so walking the whole length in one go was not too appealing. The original plan was to return on Day 3 from the lighthouse via the South East Walking Track, taking the Waterloo Bay Walking Track back to Telegraph Junction, return to Tidal River over the Telegraph Saddle and see what we’d missed out on (but with lighter packs by then).
By choosing to leave the car at Tidal River, we then had the options of two routes to get to Telegraph Junction:
– either by taking the undulating and varied Oberon Bay Walking Track around the west coast to Oberon Bay
– or heading inland and walking up and over Telegraph Saddle to follow Telegraph track the whole way.
The Oberon Bay Walking track option is 1.4km longer, but on the other hand you avoid a climb of approx 200m (with full and heavy packs) at the outset. We chose Oberon Bay Walking Track.
Note that there is a shuttle bus service up to Telegraph Saddle but it doesn’t operate during the week, only during peak periods when the Telegraph Saddle (Oberon) carpark is otherwise closed to private cars (see more about the shuttle bus service here).
Thus, this was the elevation profile for our walk to the lightstation:
Elevation profile to Wilsons Prmontory Lighthouse
Oberon Bay Walking Track (very glamorously) starts behind the toilet block between the Visitor Centre and the General Store at Tidal River. This path is well formed and well travelled, and provides lovely beach views as it climbs up to Norman Point and around to Little Oberon Bay.
(I have added in a couple of track photos from August – just convince you that it’s not all calm conditions and sunshine there!)
There’s a short stretch of beach to cross at Little Oberon Bay. (What a beautiful place this is!)
Little Oberon Bay
White sand at Little Oberon Bay
On the beach at Little Oberon Bay
Just after you cross the line of rocks bisecting the beach, look for a mass of footprints that leads up to the shelf above the beach. There’s a yellow sign indicating where the track continues on.
And that’s not the trickiest one in the park by a long shot. Here’s a closer photo so you know what you’re looking for, not just roughly where.
This is a very well beaten path, still being within pretty easy walking distance of Tidal River, but if the weather has wiped out the dozens of footprints usually there to follow, look for the line of rocks indicating the path.
The track around the next headland is very similar to the one around Norman Point. It was along here that I was intrigued to see, and count myself lucky to have got the chance to photograph, a white-lipped snake.
White-lipped snake on path to Oberon Bay
Close up of the head of the white-lipped snake
My copy of “Australian Reptiles and Amphibians” (Leonard Cronin, 2001) advises that the White-lipped Snake (Drysdalia coronoides) is venomous but not dangerous. Although they may grow to 50cm long, this one was only about 20cm, I’d say. And if you’re wondering what they eat…
…skinks, skink eggs, frogs and even small mammals are all potential prey.
By now Oberon Beach was in sight. We’d checked ahead and knew the tide would be pretty low when we got to Growler Creek, meaning getting wet feet was highly unlikely. Keep in mind too, that there hasn’t been any rain (or meaningful rain) for the last couple of months.
Descending to Growler Creek
The start of the path around the headland back to Little Oberon Bay from Growler Creek
Starting off along Oberon Beach
Stephen crossing Growler Creek
We hadn’t walked along Oberon Beach before, so weren’t exactly sure where the turn off was. I thought it was at the end of the beach, but was hoping for another bright yellow sign to show the way. So we kept walking, taking photos and looking for a bright yellow sign…
Growler Creek from Oberon Beach
Great Glennie Island from Oberon Beach
Immature (2nd yr) Pacific Gull
It’s easy walking along the flat wet sand of Oberon Beach
Crested Tern (non-breeding)
Looking back across Oberon Bay to Norman Point
Too busy walking to the end of the beach & photographing birds, I missed this sign
I was slightly wrong. We overshot by a couple of hundred metres. The track to/from the beach is on the northern side of Fraser Creek, and indicated by the usual wooden green Vic Parks sign but it’s not accompanied by a yellow high-visibilty-type sign that we were looking for. Which is why I’ve adulterated this next photo, in the hope that it may help someone else avoid our mistake. Frasers Creek is only about 1km along from Growler Creek, and you should look for the signed path through the low dune just north of Frasers Creek, which itself is pretty obvious.
The sign marking the path to Oberon campsite & Telegraph Track
The path through the dune behind Oberon Bay
After about 30m there is a nice new composting toilet at the turn off to the camping ground. The track to Telegraph Track continues for 3.5km eastward on a pretty sandy, mildly undulating, vehicle track.
Nice loo! Path to Telegraph Track to the left, path to campsite to the right
It was getting noticeably warm by this point. There wasn’t a lot of breeze today, and walking through the valley floor I was wondering how stifling it could get through here in the height of summer (usually mid January to the end of February)…
We finally made it to Telegraph Junction. It felt like a long 11km from Tidal River. Mind you, I couldn’t get my back pack to settle comfortably, and the day really seemed to be hotter than the predicted 23oC, which wasn’t helping.
Looking back along Oberon Bay Walking Track (the way we’d come)
The sign on the opposite side of Telegraph Track where Oberon Bay Walking Track starts/ends
There is probably about 30m (max) between where the Oberon Bay Walking Track meets the Telegraph Track from the west and where the Waterloo Bay Track meets up from the east. This area is known as Telegraph Junction.
Telegraph Junction – About 30m ahead where the clump of trees shades the road is the turnoff to Lt Waterloo Bay
Waterloo Bay Walking Track & Telegraph Track junction
Telegraph Track is (currently) a very well made and maintained maintenance road running from Telegraph Saddle (Oberon Carpark) to about 3km from the lightstation. The park rangers at the lighthouse drive this road to start/finish their weekly shift. It makes for sure footing, but it’s also pretty hot and exposed.
The long slog up over the southern hills begins – Telegraph Track
An old telegraph pole on the side of Telegraph Track
Soon every metre of shade counts as the road reflects the heat back up at us – Telegraph Track
Just 1.8km along from Telegraph Junction, but already feeling like a fair way higher up the hill, Halfway Hut was a great location for a brief lunch stop just off the side of the road (there is also a camping area nearby).
Turnoff to Halfway Hut from Telegraph Track, heading south towards Roaring Meg/Lightstation
Inside Halfway Hut
Toilet near Halfway Hut – Telegraph Track
Turn off to Halfway Hut from Telegraph Track, heading north towards Tidal River
The further we walked, the more I was convinced that it was hotter than 23oC – Stephen later found out from one of the park rangers that it got up to 30oC. But knowing that at the time wouldn’t have helped. You have to be mindful of how much you’re drinking and just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
But damn it was a long, hard slog up that road on the slopes of Telegraph Hill and past Martins Hill!
After many false summits we were finally at the top of the track by Martins Hill. The vegetation’s quite cleared up there as it’s also a helicopter landing area (according to our map). I didn’t feel the relief though. All I could think about was drinking long glasses of lemon effervescent drink (currently in powder form in my pack) once we finally made it to the lightstation – still a long way off – and meanwhile my pack wasn’t getting any lighter.
Walking track option to Roaring Meg campsite from Telegraph Track at top of Martin’s Hill
Here at the top of the hill is the start/end of an alternative walking track route that is 200m longer than the management track. We decided to stick with the vehicle track thinking it’d be a better grade and possible quicker. (Much earlier in the walk, when we were heading up to Norman Point, Stephen had an small accident that resulted in a skinned knee. This influenced a couple of track choice decisions.)
I’d like to say I took the opportunity to enjoy walking downhill for a while, but I confess the main thought on my mind was, ‘If we come back up this road [i.e. taking the shortest way back, which seemed more than likely at this point] it’s going to be another looong slog.”
The tall trees and ferns in the gullies here are lovely, and in any other circumstance I’d probably have been delighted to be walking there, but under the circumstances I didn’t appreciate it as fully as it possibly deserved. The shady parts were wonderful, but surely all this downhill walking meant that soon we would see some sign that we were getting close to the end of the promontory? Unfortunately, there is no glimpse or even hint of your goal (or even the ocean) until you’re practically upon it, and that’s not for half a dozen kilometres yet. There’s nothing but the neighboring hills.
Probably less than 100m before you get to Roaring Meg Creek at the bottom of the hill is an intersection that I shall refer to as ‘Roaring Meg Junction’. Here is the turnoff to Roaring Meg campsite and also the track to South Point, the inventively named most southerly point on the Australian mainland – a destination I had originally hoped to bag the following day, but one that was looking increasingly unlikely (this trip). It’s also at this junction that the bushwalking track that we could have taken back up at the top near Martins Hill joins back to the management track. Another bushwalking track option starts – this time it’s 1.1km shorter (2.3km vs 3.4km) to head off the road. The bushwalking track re-joins the management track 3.8km before the lightstation (per our SV Map).
Roaring Meg junction – Telegraph Track
Sign at Roaring Meg junction – Telegraph Track
It was at Roaring Meg Junction that we first met Neal (possibly Neil) and Elle (possibly El). They were also heading to the lighthouse but had chosen the shorter option of starting from Telegraph Saddle and had taken the bushwalker track from Martin’s Hill to this point.
We decided to continue on along the management track, and they chose the bush track. I was not over the moon with this decision, thinking that any track in the shade had to be 100x better than one with bugger-all shade and more hot, gravel surface reflecting the heat back up at me (keeping in mind it was 30oC, with out much in the way of a breeze for the most part), but it was the even surface that Stephen wanted (due to his knee).
It was slow going up along there.
One surprise on the way up that long rise was something every bushwalker should be mindful of, especially on warm days – a snake!
It was startled by Stephen who was a few metres ahead of me. A dark Tiger Snake (see also), a good metre or so in length, neck flattened, gave me a warning look and quickly moved off the road. “Holy Shit!!” was my startled exclamation.
Tiger snake disappearing into the scrub
A kilometre or so further along was anotherTiger Snake (Notechis scutatus). Stephen, still walking in front, was the one to startle it, but this time saw it out of the corner of his eye and got a bit of a fright himself! I don’t think the snake saw me at first. It was lying across the road and watching Stephen.
My photo of the snake, looking at Stephen who’d just walked past
Then it noticed me approaching!
I wasn’t sure how to pass. Not in front! Behind?
More effective than Gandalf in barring the way
It took a few seconds (and given my dehydrated state, that’s not surprising) but I realised it wasn’t moving off like the first one did because it felt threatened – trapped between two giant (potential) predators it didn’t know what to do. The flattened neck was a bit of a give away. Once Stephen and I both backed off a few metres (it didn’t take much) the snake relaxed and within 15sec you’d have never known there was a snake there at all.
In the Visitor Centre back at Tidal River there is a sign warning that there are various species of snake in the park. I took this photo on our first trip to the park last August (of course, being winter we were much less likely to see a snake then).
Parks Victoria notice – Snakes in the Park
Thank goodness both the Tiger Snakes we passed were only interested in disappearing into the bush. I had a couple of compression bandages once, but they got old and mouldy and haven’t been replaced. Our first aid kit has one standard length cotton stretch (crepe) bandage. We may have to do something about that. I had recently heard that the recommended treatment for snakebite had changed… I’ve now looked it up – here’s a link to St John Ambulance’s advice – which is pretty much as I remember it.
Looking back at where the walking track joins back up with Telegraph Track
Neal and Elle told us later that although the bushwalking track is shorter, because it’s so steep (and small stones on the path make steep slopes sometimes feel like you’re walking on marbles) it’s not really the easier option.
At last you start heading downhill again and finally come to a couple of signs. The usual green-painted Parks Victoria sign with the hopeless blobby arrows on the right-hand side of the road indicates that the small dirt path on the left side of the road is the southern end of the South East Walking Track. A sign just ahead (on the left-hand side of the road) saying “No Through Road” convinced me that although the track off to the side looked like a goat track, it could actually be legitimate. I’m pretty sure the Parks Victoria sign didn’t say anything about the lightstation, but I failed to take a photo to check! Someone had helpfully scratched into the dirt of the road “Girls this way” with an arrow pointing to the small side track… With that ambiguous statement to ponder, we set off along what I really hoped would turn out to be the right path. Thankfully it was.
Finally you get to see your destination! It’s a fair way down from Telegraph Track.
Our destination – Wilsons Promontory Lightstation
Getting closer! – Wilsons Promontory Lightstation
The bay to the west of the lightstation on a very calm afternoon, Rodondo Island (Tas) in the distance
From this angle, the hill in between and the final climb don’t look too bad…
At one of the turns, most of the way down, is the turn off from the South East Walking Track to the lighthouse.
Turn off to the lighthouse – less than 1km to go, but it’s pretty steep going
If the small hill between you and the South East Point was man-made, then I would say it was a cruel joke. It’s steep, although (thankfully) reasonably short. There are also unmarked graves near the large ‘skull rocks’ near the top – they once had wooden markers, but they were destroyed in one of the bushfires that burnt out the promontory – the massive bushfire of 1951 I think we were told.
That hill looks fun
It’s every bit as steep as it looks and more
Approaching ‘Skull Rocks’
Close-up of the weathered granite rocks
Just over the hill with the skull rocks is the helipad where supplies are flown in a few times a year. We saw Neal and Elle ahead of us, already walking up the last steep path to the lightstation.
Helipad servicing the lightstation
You can just see Elle wearing a red backpack climbing the hill ahead
Unlike many visitors (it seems), we had been forewarned about this bit, thanks to Hiking Fiasco. Knowing it was coming certainly helped mentally prepare for it, but it was even steeper than I’d given his story credit.
Here we were. Time to face the Big Climb To The Top
I confess I was thinking of Frodo & Sam on Mt Doom
And then there was Renata, one of the Park Rangers welcoming me to the top, and Stephen with a freshly filled bottle of cold water (I had a mouthful but I was still hanging out for that effervescent drink).
We were shown around the old Lighthouse Keepers Cottage and met Colin, the other Park Ranger stationed here this week. We had room No 1 (perhaps because we were the first to book?) which is possibly the best, as it has it’s own door to the veranda and you can look directly out to the lighthouse (but the light doesn’t shine in of a nighttime). Finally we could drop our bags, take off the boots, find my bag of powdered saline drink and gulp down as much of the replenishing lemon-flavoured drink as I needed to feel somewhat recovered again. (Tip: you know you’ve had enough when it starts to taste less appealing.)
Once we’d rested for a few minutes, it was time for a wonderful hot shower, clean clothes, then to explore! (With a bottle of water in hand; re-hydrating properly can take a while.)
Our room had it’s own door to the veranda which was pretty special
The eastern side of the veranda
Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse aka South East Point Lighthouse & Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) weather station, Rodondo Is (TAS) in the background
The main entrance of the Lighthouse Keepers Cottage (left) and the Parks Victoria Keepers cottage (right)
Looking down the main path to the lighthouse
‘Tis the season for Bare Naked Ladies to pop up… I think they’re heritage protected while they stay in the gardens (which they haven’t)
Looking north along the east coast toward Waterloo Bay
There used to be a flying fox to haul supplies up the hill from the dock at east landing
Behind the cottages on the west side of the path
Day visitors don’t get much, but on the whole they don’t come for long and I don’t think they come for comfort
The Lighthouse Keepers Cottage
Truly, it wasn’t long before the pure bliss of being here totally washed away all the negative sentiments thought along the Telegraph Track. And then some.
Forty Foot Rock and Mancoeur Islands (I think) – just some of the more obvious reasons for the lighthouse
The bay to the west of the lightstation
Looking out to Rodondo Island, which falls under Tasmania’s jurisdiction
Standing atop my favourite rock, behind Cottage 5
You can see all the way to South Point from here I think, just don’t go past this point
A ship heading to Melbourne
Great moody clouds over the ocean
It’s so peaceful and relaxing here… but I’m not sure how often it’s this calm.
I quickly decided I could happily live here. It’s not just because the walk back out seemed like a lot of effort (especially right now, having just walked 25km to get here), but because it was just perfect. Nice breeze, tall cliffs, lighthouse, ocean, offshore islands, tall, forested mountains, hardly anyone around – what more could you possibly ask?
How about seeing a wombat and her baby walking around the cottages? Well, we did.
A wombat and her young
Stephen’s very cleverly put together this collage of them.
Apparently there are about 12 that live around the cottages, and given the amount of wombat poo around, that’s not hard to believe! They do very well at keeping the grass down. They’re quite a bit darker than the ones that live around Tidal River.
Wombat at Tidal River – much lighter coloured than those seen at the lightstation
It turned out that it was only the four of us staying at the cottage that night – Stephen and I, and Neal and Elle. It was a nice and companionable evening. (I hope we didn’t bang on at them too much about our opinions on how visitor options for the park could be seriously improved.)
It rained that evening and into the night (which was great to hear) so we didn’t go spotlighting or take any starry photos. I just hope the rain was wide spread in the region as it’s desperately wanted.