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Camping Wilsons Prom: The Complete Guide

Camping Wilsons Prom: The Complete Guide

Wilsons Promontory National Park is one of the most breathtaking locations in Victoria, Australia. Simply known as Wilsons Prom, or affectionalty as The Prom, this small slice of paradise at the southernmost tip of mainland Australia rightly deserves more than just a quick day trip from Melbourne. Indeed, camping in Wilsons Prom is all part of the experince. You’ll find a wealth of campsites in Wilsons Promontory National Park, including the ever popular Tidal River Campground and numerous remote camping accommodation options along some of Wilsons Prom’s extraordinary hiking trails.

In this guide, we’ll look at where Wilsons Promontory National Park is, as well as how to get there. We’ll take a look at the different Wilsons Prom camping sites before covering the best things to do in the national park including stunning beaches and incredible hiking trails. Lastly, we’ll look at a camping gear list and throw in a few bonus tips to make the most of your camping trip to Wilsons Prom.

Check out our guides on the Southern Circuit, Mount Oberon, Big Drift and Squeaky Beach.

Wilsons Promontory National Park lies southeast of Melbourne in the state of Victoria, Australia. Wilsons Prom occupies the southernmost part of mainland Australia, on a small peninsula that juts out into the Bass Straight. The national park falls within the Gippsland region of Victoria and is one of the most pristine and unspoiled areas of Australia, with a wealth of beautiful beaches and excellent coastal tracks, not to mention it’s wildlife galore.

The best way to make the most of any visit to Wilsons Prom is by staying overnight and camping in one of the many designated campsites like that of Tidal River – The Prom’s main hub.

How to Get to Wilsons Prom

Wilsons Prom is straightforward to get to from any major town or city in Victoria and southern New South Wales. It’s not uncommon to visit as a day trip from Melbourne, but undoubtedly an overnight, weekend or longer stay, utilising the Wilsons Promontory accommodation options, is the best way to fully experience the national park. Below, we’ll take a look at a couple of popular driving routes.

Driving is also the most convenient way to visit Wilsons Prom. Even though many of the excellent campsites and camping spots in Wilsons Prom require a walk to reach them, the actual access to Wilsons Prom and Tidal River is best done via your own vehicle.

Luckily, there are no scary 4WD roads at Wilsons Prom either. Not even to the main campsites at Wilsons Prom. A 2WD is more than sufficient. If you don’t have access to a car, consider hiring one.

Car Hire

DiscoverCars.com

If you don’t have your own car, you should hire one using Discover Cars. Personally, we use Discover Cars and highly recommend them for finding your ideal car hire at an affordable price. Booking online is super easy and the free cancellation policy is great.

To find out more about renting a car with Discover Cars, read our Discover Cars review and Discover Cars Insurance review.

Melbourne to Wilsons Promontory

You’ll be looking at a 2.5 hour drive if travelling from Melbourne to Wilsons Prom, with a distance of around 200km. Although not impossible to visit as a day trip, the journey length plus the wealth of camping accommodation options at Wilsons Promontory means you’ll likely want at least an overnight stay.

To drive there, take the M1 Monash Freeway to join the M420/A440 South Gippsland Freeway towards Meeniyan. Then, take the C444 Meeniyan–Promontory Road to enter Wilsons Prom. You’ll find one of Wilsons Prom’s main campsites, Stockyards, close to the entrance. The more popular camping option of Tidal River Campground is a further 35km drive deeper into Wilsons Prom.

Inverloch to Wilsons Prom

Inverloch to Wilsons Prom is a 2 hour drive covering 106km. Follow the C442 towards Middle Tarwin before taking the C444 Buffalo-Tarwin Lower Road down to Yanakie. From here, you’ll join the Wilsons Promontory Road into the national park.

Sydney to Wilsons Prom

From Sydney, you’ll be looking at a drive time of around 11 hours with a huge distance of 995km. Dan and I travelled down to Wilsons Prom as part of a wider road trip. We stopped off at Kiama, Jervis Bay, Batemans Bay and Eden to name just a few notable places en route.

Overseas Visitors

If you’re travelling to Melbourne (or Sydney for that matter) from overseas, we recommend using Skyscanner to search for the cheapest flights. Then, on arrival at the national park, be sure to grab a map from the gatehouse as you drive through.

Booking Flights

Skyscanner

Skyscanner is our go-to website for booking flights. If you’re looking to find the cheapest flights, we recommend getting the ball rolling with a Skyscanner search. It allows you to scan all airlines and platforms to find the cheapest airfares.

To find out more about booking the cheapest flights, read our Skyscanner review.

Dan at Mt Oberon after camping at Wilsons Prom and Tidal River campground Wilsons Promontory Accommodation

Entrance Fee to Wilsons Prom

There is no entrance fee to visit Wilsons Prom. Entry to the national park is absolutely free. However, you’ll need to pay for camping in Wilsons Prom. Additionally, overnight hikers staying at the remote campgrounds along the walking trails will need to obtain a permit.

Camping permits are acquired from the Tidal River Visitor Centre. Be sure to pick one up before you head off on your hike. In peak season, Wilsons Prom camping is extremely busy and so campsites like the Tidal River Campground must be booked in advance of your visit.

How Many Days to Stay in Wilsons Prom?

There is so much to see, do and enjoy at Wilsons Prom. At the very least, we think a weekend in Wilsons Prom will enable you to experience a great deal of just how breathtaking this small peninsula in Victoria, Australia is. Although, it’ll likely leave you longing for more. So, stay longer if you can. Indeed, you could easily spend weeks exploring every inch of Wilsons Prom, going from campsite to campsite, switching between beach walk and coastal trail.

Dan and I spent a weekend in Wilsons Prom, enjoying the cosy camping and fantastic hiking trails. We were very happy.

Day Trip From Melbourne

As mentioned, exploring Wilsons Prom with an overnight stay or two at one of the many campsites is by far the most preferable way to see The Prom. But, it’s certainly possible to visit Wilsons Prom as a day trip from Melbourne. As discussed above, the travel time really isn’t too long and Melbourne has fantastic direct routes to this corner or Victoria.

But, there is SO much to see and do in Wilsons Prom. It really would be such a shame to visit only for the day. Especially given the accommodation options on offer in Wilsons Promontory and camping is definitely a big part of the whole experience.

camping and campsites at Wilsons Prom Wilsons Promontory Accommodation

What Is the Best Time of Year to Visit Wilsons Prom?

You can visit Wilsons Prom all year round. Indeed, Dan and I visited in winter and enjoyed the perks of exceptional weather with a far less crowded national park. Winter also brings with it the chance to see Humpback and Southern Right Whales as they migrate north to warmer waters.

Summer is obviously the busiest time of year for visitors to Wilsons Prom. In fact, during summer, ALL Wilsons Prom campsites must be pre-booked. And yes, the campsites do fill quickly, so you’ll need to be organised if visiting Wilsons Prom in the summer. As the most popular Wilsons Prom campground, Tidal River camping goes very quickly. Avoid weekends where possible to try and find a quieter time during the week in summer.

Spring and Autumn possibly offer the best times of year to visit. Certainly, camping at Wilsons Prom, especially Tidal River, is a little quieter and much warmer than camping in winter (I should know).

The weather at Wilsons Prom can, and often does, affect trails and amenities. It’s not uncommon for remote hiking trails, especially those for overnight hikes, to be closed due to poor weather. This then means the uber picturesque campsites in Wilsons Prom, like Sealers Cove and Refuge Cove, are closed. It’s always good to check with Parks Victoria on the status of campsites and attractions before you visit to avoid any disappointment.

overlooking tidal river campground one of Wilson Prom's campsites Wilsons Promontory Accommodation

Booking Camping at Wilsons Prom

There is a Wilsons Prom camping booking system. It’s sometimes required to book campsites in advance, especially during peak season. This is when campgrounds, like Tidal River, become very busy. In addition, overnight hikers are required to obtain and carry a Wilsons Prom camping permit. As mentioned, this is collected from the Tidal River Visitor Centre.

You can find out more about the Wilsons Prom camping booking system here.

Wilsons Promontory Accommodation

So, where to stay at Wilsons Promontory National Park? Well, undoubtedly, camping at Wilsons Prom is the best way to enjoy the national park. If you choose to take on some of Wilsons Prom’s overnight hikes, then a stay at some of the remote campsites, like Sealers Cove and Little Waterloo Bay, will easily leave lasting memories of the beauty of Wilsons Prom. Or, you might choose to stay at the main hub, Tidal River, and the campground there. Here, you’ll have access to an amenities block and electric hook-up. And if Wilsons Promontory camping isn’t for you, you’ll find other accommodation options at Tidal River that might suit you better. Let’s take a look below.

Camping at Tidal River

The vast majority of visitors to Wilsons Prom will choose to stay at the Tidal River Campground. This Parks Victoria-run campground is the most popular and well-equipped campsite in the national park. Tidal River Campground has 484 camping and caravan pitches, some with electric hook-ups and powered sites. There’s a well-equipped amenities block as well as the choice to camp in more seclusion under the Tea Trees close to Norman Beach. Norman Beach is a beautiful beach in which to enjoy the sunset in Wilsons Prom, so camping in this part of Tidal River Campground is surely going to be very special indeed.

Tidal River Campground is also close to the Tidal River Visitor Centre, where you can pick up information on great walks around this part of Wilsons Prom, collect your overnight hiking permit if you need and even visit the General Store for supplies or a coffee.

Tidal River Cabins

If you’ve been out on some of the multi-day hikes in Wilsons Promontory, then you might want some accommodation with a little added comfort in Tidal River. Step forward, the Tidal River Cabins. Each cabin is nestled in picturesque bush on the edge of Tidal River. Accommodation options can sleep up to six people, where guests can enjoy a fully equipped kitchen and outdoor deck.

Tidal River Huts

Similar to the Tidal River Lodges are the Tidal River Huts. This Wilsons Promontory accommodation is a step up from camping, where guests will still need to make use of the Tidal River Campground amenities block. The Tidal River Huts consist of a single room and can sleep four or six people, depending on which hut you book.

Tidal River Units

The Tidal River Units are the creme de la creme of accommodation options in this part of Wilsons Promontory. The small holiday homes are fully equipped with the use of a shared barbecue and outdoor deck, perfect for relaxing.

Tidal River Lodges

If camping at the Tidal River Campground isn’t your thing, and there’s a big group of you, you could consider booking one of the Tidal River Lodges. The Tidal River Lodges sleep 12, 24 or 30 people in dormitory rooms with bunk beds. There’s a minimum two night stay with a choice of three lodge options.

Tidal River Glamping

The final Tidal River accommodation option as an alternative to camping in Wilsons Prom is the Tidal River Wilderness Retreats. These safari-style tents are Wilsons Prom’s answer to glamping and look wonderful. Guests can enjoy the use of their own bathroom as well as visits from the resident wildlife.

All Tidal River Campgrounds and alternative accommodation options can be booked through Parks Victoria here.

Views of Norman Beach next to Tidal River campground Wilsons Promontory Accommodation

Tidal River Campground Map

Campsite plots aren’t allocated at Tidal River Campground, despite having to book in advance most of the time. So, it’s a good idea to have the Tidal River Campground map to check on where you might like to pitch that tent. You can download the Tidal River Campground map here.

Squeaky Beach Wilsons Prom Camping

As one of the most iconic beaches in Wilsons Prom, it’s understandable a lot of you will want to investigate camping here. Unfortunately, camping at Squeaky Beach isn’t possible. The nearest campsite to Squeaky Beach is Tidal River Campground, just a short 5-minute drive away. Alternatively, you can take a fantastic coastal walk between Tidal River and Squeaky Beach, which we highly recommend.

Stockyards Campground

Dan and I camped at Stockyards Campground at the entrance to Wilsons Prom. We’d visited the Big Drift for sunset the night before and it made perfect sense. Staying here was wonderful and quiet, feeling fully immersed in nature but with all the luxuries of an amenities block. The camping area at Stockyards is much smaller than that of the Tidal River Campground. But, with that is a wonderfully remote stay.

In addition, the star gazing at Wilsons Prom is absolutely out of this world. Dan and I were blown away by the clarity of the Milky Way.

camping at Stockyards Campsite in Wilsons Prom at night

Campsites for Overnight Hiking

Wilsons Prom offers some stellar day hikes. But, its overnight hiking trails are some of the best in Victoria, not to mention the remote and picturesque campsites you’ll get to experience along the way in Wilsons Prom. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the most popular.

Sealers Cove Campground

The Sealers Cove Campground is a popular campsite for the Wilsons Prom Sealers Cove Track or the Southern Circuit hike. The sheltered golden sand beach of Sealers Cove is a huge draw for Wilsons Prom visitors, and camping is incredible. Bookings need to be made in advance and a permit must be carried at all times.

There are toilets at the Sealers Cove Campground. Water can be obtained from the nearby creek, although, this needs to be treated before consuming. Also, if walking to Sealers Cove Campground from Telegraph Saddle, you’ll need to check the tidal times in order to cross the creek. See more information here.

Little Oberon Bay Campground

Little Oberon Bay is a small beach of white sand set against a backdrop of mesmerising turquoise water. The Little Oberon Bay Campground is accessed on foot only via the Southern Circuit hike. This hike begins from either Tidal River or Telegraph Saddle. This Wilsons Prom campsite is a little more basic than the Sealers Cove Campground, with a composting toilet and basic table facilities. Water is obtained from the nearby creek. But again, you must treat it before consuming. Booking is essential.

Refuge Cove Camping

The beautiful golden beach of Refuge Cove sits right next door to Sealers Cove. Another sheltered beach awaits the weary hiker with a wonderful night under the stars. The Refuge Cove campsite is basic. But, you’ll find toilets and a creek where you can obtain water. Like the other Wilsons Prom’s overnight hike campsites, you must treat the water before you drink it. Advance booking is essential.

Roaring Meg Campsite

The most southern of Wilsons Prom’s hike-to-only campsites is Roaring Meg. The Roaring Meg Campground is the perfect base for visitors looking to access Wilsons Prom’s South Point and the Lighthouse. Roaring Meg Campsite may not be on the coast, but its location, nestled within a fern gully and teeming with resident wildlife, makes it a pretty special place to spend the night. Untreated water is available from the nearby creek. Be sure to treat before consuming. There are also toilets and again, you must book in advance.

Refuge Cove one of Wilsons Prom's campsites and campgrounds

Is There Free Camping at Wilsons Prom?

Wilsons Prom has no free camping. You have to book and pay for all campsites in Wilsons Prom.

Camping Essentials for Wilsons Prom

These are our camping essentials for staying in Wilsons Prom. Whether you choose to stay in the well-equipped Tidal River Campground or camp in the more remote locations of Sealers Cove and Little Waterloo Bay, we’re sure these recommendations will come in handy.

Accommodation Outside of Wilsons Promontory

It’s possible Wilsons Promontory accommodation and campsites are fully booked when you visit. Or, maybe it’s just more convenient to stay outside of the national park. If so, then you could consider camping in nearby Shallow Inlet, Waratah Bay, Yanakie or even Venus Bay.

Things to Do at Wilsons Prom

As one of the most picturesque and unspoiled parts of Victoria, if not the whole of Australia, there’s plenty to see and do. From relaxing beaches to remote coastal walks and mountain lookouts, Wilsons Prom is a very special place. Let’s take a look at some of the top things to do at Wilsons Prom below.

Wilsons Prom Beaches

  • Picnic Bay: a beautifully tranquil beach and a great alternative to the popular Squeaky Beach. Sunsets are sublime and it’s not far to head back to Tidal River for a night camping under the stars.
  • Squeaky Beach: one of Wilsons Prom’s most iconic beaches, Squeaky Beach is a picturesque and tranquil place. And yes, the sand does indeed squeak underfoot! No swimming at Squeaky Beach though, it’s too dangerous.
  • Sealers Cove: Sealers Cove is a hidden paradise of golden sands and calm turquoise waters. Surrounded by dense rainforest teeming with wildlife, it’s an unbelievable place to spend the day relaxing. And of course, Sealers Cove is one of Wilsons Prom’s best remote campsites.
  • Refuge Cove: if you thought Sealers Cove was remote, try Refuge Cove. This golden sand beach is even more remote. You can only access Refuge Cove via the walk to Sealers Cove, or by taking on the longer Wilsons Prom Southern Circuit hike. Refuge Cove is a little slice of paradise, far removed from civilisation and is well worth the effort to get to. Of course, you’ll find another of Wilsons Prom’s campsites here.
  • Norman Beach: Norman Beach at Wilsons Prom is one of the best beaches for swimming. Its location close to Tidal River Campground and other Wilsons Promontory accommodations makes it a popular stop for most visitors. Head south along the beach and up onto the Norman Point headland for some incredible views.
  • Miller’s Landing: for a short walk in the northern parts of Wilsons Prom, Miller’s Landing is a great choice. You can access the beach via Five Mile Car Park. Also, the beach is a wonderful location for bird-watching.
Squeaky Beach close to Wilsons Promontory Accommodation Tidal River camping

Hiking at Wilsons Prom

There is some absolutely unbelievable hiking for you to discover at Wilsons Prom. Truly, some of the most enjoyable coastal walks Dan and I have ever completed were at The Prom. Add to that remote camping in Wilsons Prom and this is easily a dream destination for any hiker. Below, we’ll take a look at some of our favourites.

The Big Drift

Experience the outstanding inland sand dunes of the Big Drift at Wilsons Prom. The quick walk from Stockyards Campground leads to the vast sandy plain. There’s a steep ascent awaiting the climb up onto the Big drift, which is incredible to visit at sunset.

Read more: Big Drift Walk: The Epic Wilsons Prom Sand Dunes

Mount Oberon Summit Walk

The straightforward yet steep walking track up Mount Oberon offers some of the finest views across the whole of Wilsons Promontory National Park. Given its close proximity to the Tidal River Campground, this is a fine walk for sunrise or sunset. The steep walk begins from Telegraph Saddle Car Park.

Read more: Mount Oberon Summit Walk: The Best View At Wilsons Prom

Lilly Pilly Gully Nature Walk

The Lilly Pilly Gully Nature Walk is a family-friendly rainforest walk taking a couple of hours to complete. The 5km trail across boardwalk and compact sand is easy to walk on. Wildlife spotting is the aim of the game, along with soaking up the local flora.

The Lilly Pilly Gully Nature Walk is easily extended by joining the Lilly Pilly Gully Circuit trail.

Squeaky Beach Walk (Norman Beach To Whisky Bay)

The beautiful coastal walk over the headland of Pillar Point from Norman Beach to Whisky Bay is one of the finest walks in Wilsons Prom. Beginning from Tidal River, this is an excellent late afternoon hike as you watch the sun start to set over the beautiful Wilsons Prom beaches on the eastern side of the peninsula. For an even quicker walk, you can just park up in the Squeaky Beach Car Park or alternatively, you can reach Squeaky Beach from the Lilly Pilly Gully Car Park and combine the two walks.

Read more: How To Visit Squeaky Beach At Wilsons Prom

Mount Bishop Walk

If Mount Oberon does it for you, then you’ll probably enjoy a walk up Mount Bishop too. This peak in Wilsons Prom may be a touch shorter than neighbouring Mount Oberon, but the views are just as fine. The walk is a little tougher but well worth it.

Tongue Point

The walk from Darby River to Tongue Point reaches the secluded and drool-worthy Fairy Cove on the western side of Wilsons Prom. The 4km trail begins from Darby River Car Park and is a great spot for sunset.

Sealers Cove Track

The 10km out and back Sealers Cove Track is a popular walk in Wilsons Prom to access some of the most remote beaches in the southeast of the national park. Sealers Cove is absolutely beautiful and well worth the walk. Better still, spend the night at Sealers Cove Campground as an alternative to the more busy Tidal River Wilsons Prom campsite.

Wilsons Prom Southern Circuit

The Wilsons Prom Southern Circuit is an outstanding multi-day hike. Alternatively, you can smash out the walk in a day, as we discovered. If you loved the Sealers Cove Track, you’ll be blown away by this incredible hike and campsite. It’s one of the best places for camping in Wilsons Prom.

The Southern Circuit Walk also visits the remote Refuge Cove (with camping facilities) and Little Oberon Bay (with camping facilities).

If you want to extend the Wilsons Prom Southern Circuit, you can continue from Little Waterloo Bay down to the lighthouse at South East Point, and then return to Tidal River via Little Oberon Bay. You’ll find Roaring Meg the perfect Wilsons Prom campsite for this section of the trail.

Read more: Wilsons Prom Southern Circuit: The Compete Hiking Guide

Read more: Wilsons Prom: The Complete Guide To Hiking and Camping

Wilsons Prom Hiking Essentials

These are our hiking gear essentials for Wilsons Prom, Victoria.

Osprey Skarab 30
Osprey Skarab 30

The Osprey Skarab 30 is our go-to hiking backpack for day hikes. This well-designed unisex backpack is comfortable and spacious, so you’ll have plenty of space to pack everything without feeling the strain on your upper back.

Osprey Ultralight Raincover
Osprey Ultralight Raincover

A waterproof backpack cover is an absolute must when you’re adventuring outdoors. The Osprey Ultralight Raincover Medium is a high-quality waterproof cover that’ll keep your backpack bone dry.

GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle
GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle

The GRAYL GeoPress is the best water filter bottle that allows you to purify 710mL (12 ounces) of water. This bottle will make water safe to drink wherever you’re hiking.

BUFF Original Ecostretch
BUFF Original Ecostretch

The BUFF Original Ecostretch is a great option when it comes to multifunctional headwear. We use the Ecostretch as a neck gaiter to keep the sun off our necks and it helps us keep warm in cooler climates.

Sony Cybershot RX100 VII
Sony Cybershot RX100 VII

Capture epic photos and videos with the Sony Cybershot RX100 VII. This is hands-down the best compact camera. We love using this simple point-and-shoot camera when we’re hiking as it’s lightweight and durable.

To find out more about all of the gear that we use and recommend, read our guides about our favourite hiking gear, travel gear and camera gear. Otherwise, read our comprehensive travel packing checklist.

Bonus Tips

  • Parks Victoria information: for more information on visiting Wilsons Prom, be sure to check out the Parks Victoria information page here.
  • Wilsons Prom Lighthouse: visit the southernmost point of mainland Australia with a trip to the Wilsons Prom Lighthouse.
  • Fuel: the last place to refuel before entering Wilsons Prom is Yanakie. So be sure to fill the tank there if you need to.
  • Wildlife and driving: Wilsons Promontory National Park is a hive of wildlife activity. This is especially true at dawn and dusk and so please take care as you’re driving.
  • Marine National Park: the southern sections of the Wilsons Prom peninsula make up the Wilsons Prom Marine National Park. Some of the best ways to explore this incredible area are by taking a boat cruise around the coastline. Get Your Guide offers some excellent options for tours and trips around Wilsons Prom.

Wilsons Promontory Wilderness Cruise

Wilsons Prom viewpoint at Mount Oberon

Explore the marine national park on this epic 2.5 hour boat trip departing from Tidal River with Viator

We hope you found this post about camping, campsites and accommodation at Wilsons Promontory, Victoria useful for planning your trip. Feel free to bookmark or share for future use.

We acknowledge and respect the First Nations people as the Traditional Custodians of the land/water that we visited and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

Beck Piggott

With an art and design based background, Beck uses photography and writing to help inspire readers to climb mountains, hike coastal trails and chase waterfalls around the globe.

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