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The Prom

Can I take you to my favourite destination Down Under? You won’t be the same after visiting, magic is involved. It’s a place where paintings of an Aussie paradise come to life. Where the ocean, forrest, mountains and rugged Australia all embrace …… whilst being smooched by the sun. I’ve seen emus prance along, wombats march, kangas hop and kookaburras sing over corn flakes. On a clear night, thousands and thousands of flashbulb stars supernaturally sparkle in the black sky. It’s just unreal. Can I take you to The Prom?

A trip to Wilsons Promontory National Park has become an annual summer tradition, a baptism for the year ahead. I’m never quite the same after the experience. For a grown man that never gets tired of letting his imagination soar, The Prom is a heavenly environment. It is land that epidermises a getaway. On a blue skies proudest day, the crisp horizon can crystallise your thoughts. At its most chaotic, the mischievous weather will swirl them into melody. You are away.

This past trip was no different.

Leaving Melbourne for the Prom is a three and half hour tale in its self. The city jungle, with its rowdy freeways, modern motors and sun blocking skyscrapers make way for rolling hills, gangs of cows and bushwhacking drags. It’s artificial to natural, grind to getaway.

As I drive through the park gates of mainland Australia's most southernest point and head towards Tidal River campsite, the anticipation is childlike. It’s a delightful 27c and with only 15 minutes left of the bum numbing drive, each turn of a corner results in an attractive picture. There’s bush as far as the eye can see, wildlife, Prussian blue water and swaying trees sticking together like brocollini soldiers.

Are they waving? Are they welcoming me with dance? I ask myself….. And before I know it, low flying clouds aggressively dash across my sight and gobble up the perfect summer sky. They seem to be in a rush. The mountains and scenic views are gone within a few short minutes. It’s eerily beautiful. It’s also a reminder that I am now in Mother Nature’s living room. Let her host, let her entertain.

I arrive at my destination and slowly cruise through the grounds. There’s a general store, café, free souls and plenty of amenities. You don’t have to be a hard-core camper to stay here. I park at lot number 152 and immediately jump out of my car to load my lungs with the freshest of air. I’m here! With so much to absorb all around me, it’s the pinnacle of the Prom, Mt. Oberon, that always grabs my attention first. I turn to face it, pay my respects and pinch myself. We make an unspoken agreement that it can do whatever it likes with the elements, I’ll revel in them, just give me that one pristine day at Whiskey Bay. It’s the Mecca.

From there I drop to all fours, my knees and hands in the dirt, bowing to its divinity as I build my borough for the next 4 nights. I hear foreign accents, families laughing and see full grown adults throwing frisbees. It’s that type of place. My neighbours Graeme and Bev, a senior couple in their 70s welcome me with a cup of coffee and cantaloupe… stop it now.

With my home built and the sun showing its pretty face again, I click my heels and walk off to float in the sea. The short stroll along the river is equal to being on a movie set, it’s that perfect. The shrubberies’ shades of green and brown, along with the golden sparkles reflecting from the water commingle with the backdrop of mega alps. This plays tag with Norman Beach, Tidal River’s show piece. More peaks, mass ocean and rock face domes. How can I hug it? In no time I’m in the water marvelling at the scene before me, swimming and splashing. It’s maybe 30 minutes later when the Prom decides to change it up, and also proves it can do psychedellica just fine too. The afternoon waves began to rise as the wind picked up. The ominous clouds returned and collided with the smiling sky once again, this time they didn’t take over. As the rain came gushing down all these ingredients strike through the sunshine to form the most vibrant and spirited rainbow I’ve ever seen. It cuts right through the mountain. Am I on this planet?

With salty eyes and the taste of coconut lotion on my lips, I leave the water to take a photo of the happening and head back to home base to start the barbeque. Whilst cooking, my personal audience of Rosellas and Wallabies cap off an unforgettable first day. Over the time of this trip I sleep, wake, read and swim whenever I want. The early sunrise dip is a personal highlight. I visit beaches that squeek, talk to tourists, ride my bike and enjoy multiple bush hikes. None more satisfying than the 18km walk to Sealer’s Cove. It was a 5hr excursion where my company were butterflies and the sound of silence was only interrupted by the breeze caressing the trees.

On return the heavens open and wipe out the entire campsite for the next 24hrs. Trying to sleep on my final night whilst the tent is being folded like an accordion was a testing experience. Risking concussion and wishing for a helmet I try to block it out and focus on the unspoken agreement we made for Whiskey Bay. Stubbornly, I haven’t ventured down there yet. I want perfection. And considering the heavy rainfall, I might have to prepare for disappointment. How will the Prom look when I wake?

Like a kid at Christmas, when morning time strikes and with eyes barely open, I crawl out of the tent to see if Santa has come……. He has not. Disappointed and a little dejected, I begin the clean up before the long drive home. It’s hard to stay disenchanted at the Prom though. Watching the rain gracefully fall and soothe the eager trees is like poetry in motion. With the thump of the closing boot I turn and wave at Graeme and Bev. We wish each other the best.

As I say goodbye to Tidal River and begin the drive out, the radio is off, the windows are up, yet someway, somehow, the angelic sounds of Enya ripple into my ears, as the clouds above begin to part. There are blue skies ahead! With a glimpse of the changing fortune I turn left quickly into the Whiskey Bay car park.

By the time I have changed into my swimmers and grabbed my towel, we have full blown sunshine. Talk about repaying the faith. This wasn’t an unspoken agreement, this was a firm handshake that pulled me close to its chest and then messed up my hair for doubting.

Chuffed and slightly embarrassed, I head down the 300 meter track to my favourite beach in Victoria. The various shades of well-nourished neon green clash with thirsty, burnt looking branches. They’re similar to a creation from Tim Burton…… like they might just reach out and grab you. I love that contrast. The end of the walking track gives way to white sand that meets turquoise water. The ocean is bookended by alien rock formations. It really is a fairy-tale in HD.

For the next few hours I take in the sun, body surf and thank the Prom for its existence. When it’s time for that last swim before leaving, I float on my back and let the ocean take me. With water covering my ears and only the sound of my thoughts, it’s the best time to focus on my year ahead, and what I want it to be.

The Wilsons Promontory National Park, commonly known as Wilsons Prom or The Prom, is a national park in the Gippsland region of Victoria, Australia, located approximately 157 kilometres southeast of Melbourne

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