Craig Sheather and his family take a road trip to Gippsland in South East Victoria in search of wildlife, wilderness, walks and waterways.
As soon as we step onto the sand at Wilson Promontory, my four year old daughter kicks off her shoes and starts running and jumping along the beach.
“Listen Dad, it really squeaks” she screams with excitement.
Squeaky Beach is just one of the many highlights of Wilsons Promontory which is situated at the southern-most point of mainland Australia. This 50,000 hectare natural paradise (also known as ‘The Prom’) provides the perfect combination of beach and bush fun for families. Squeaky Beach has rounded quartz sand that ‘squeaks’ when you walk on it. At the northern end of the beach the giant granite rock formations create a maze of passages, great for exploring and games of hide and seek.
The Prom is a refuge for an array of native wildlife including kangaroos, emus, wombats, echidnas plus many birds species like rosellas, kookaburras and cockatoos. A network of walking trails pass through the park, ranging from short and easy trails with boardwalks to overnight treks of several days.
Next Port of Call
From Wilsons Prom we head further east along the coast to Port Albert, one of Victoria’s oldest sea ports. Established in 1841, the town has a collection of historical buildings and an interesting museum that pays homage to the area’s rich maritime history. Walking tracks and picnic areas line the coast around the wharf and jetty area which is shaded by Norfolk Pines.
Our next stopover is the tranquil village of Metung, known for its scenic walks, good local food, monthly farmers market and excellent galleries. Nearby lies the popular holiday spot of Lakes Entrance. The landmark footbridge, which crosses the inlet, connects the town centre with the sand dunes and windswept coastline of Bass Strait and the famous Ninety Mile Beach.
This region is all about water activities – boating, fishing, sailing, swimming, canoeing, kayaking – you name it, it’s possible!
Cape Conran Coastal Park
Located in East Gippsland, Cape Conran boasts expansive coastal heathlands, banksia woodlands and 60 kilometres of isolated sandy beaches. This coastal park is teeming with a variety of plants, animals and marine life. During May to October whales and dolphins can be sighted off-shore. The East Cape Boardwalk is just one of a number of wilderness trails in the park. Along the way we explore rock pools, build sand castles, climb rocky outcrops and discover secluded coves. In the evening we watch a beautiful sunset from the West Cape.
Famous for its dazzling and elaborate limestone cave system, Buchan is a peaceful town at the foothills of the Snowy Mountains. The caves were formed by underground rivers cutting through limestone rock. Tours are conducted daily into the Royal and Fairy caves. With young Morrison strapped to my chest in the baby carrier, we navigate the narrow cave passageways of the Royal Cave and discover fascinating calcite-rimmed pools and intricate stalactites and stalagmites. The Buchan Caves Reserve also offers impressive system of bushwalks and plenty of wildlife.
Our home for two nights is Caves House. Every day a mob of kangaroos come to graze on the surrounding lawn and one morning some wild deer wander past the kitchen window as we eat our breakfast. We can’t wait to go back.
5 best places to stay with kids
- Tidal River Campground, Wilsons Promontory vic.gov.au
- Hooked Inn Cottages, Port Albert com.au
- Cape Conran Coastal Park Cabins net.au
- Buchan Caves Reserve vic.gov.au
- Vivere Retreat, Neerim South com.au
5 best walking trails with kids
- East Cape Boardwalk, Cape Conran Coastal Park
- Loo-Errn Track, Wilsons Promontory
- Ninety Mile Beach
- Metung Boardwalk
- The Entrance Walk, Lakes Entrance
5 best activities with kids
- Exploring Buchan Caves
- Wildlife spotting / hiking at Wilson Prom
- Cycling one of Gippsland’s Rail Trails
- Port Albert Maritime Museum
- Gippsland Lakes Watersports
Nearest airport: Melbourne
Travel distances from Melbourne: Wilsons Prom – 200km, Port Albert – 220km, Lakes Entrance – 315km, Buchan – 350km, Cape Conran – 400km.