Yesterday was the last day of our adventure around Eastern Victoria. We left Bairnsdale in good time and pushed on to Tidal River at Wilsons Promontory where we planned to spend as much of the day as we could.
About halfway between Bairnsdale and the ‘Prom’, we travelled through the little town of Yarram. This is a dairy town and we were attracted by a mural of a local dairy farmer and his dog.
Yarram serves an extensive agricultural district. From the early 1900s, large areas of land were selected in the hill country to the north and west of Yarram. The main enterprise was dairying – supplying cream to the butter factory established in 1891. Being close to one of the first Victorian trade ports, Port Albert, the town of Yarram grew quickly. The butter factory, with its ornate signage, closed in 1987.
The nearby township of Alberton was surveyed in 1842 and named after Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria. Initially the township consisted of two settlements, one named Alberton and the other named Victoria, which were separated by Victoria Street. The town grew, with stores, hotels, churches and was the official centre of the area with the Police Magistrate and Court of Petty Sessions. An old pub still stands on the corner the highway, looking as though its glory days are well over.
We then made a shot detour to the old town of Port Albert but didn’t stay for very long as it was very windy and too uncomfortable to walk around. From the mid-1800s, Port Albert was the supply port for Gippsland’s pioneers until the completion of the Melbourne-Sale railway in 1878. By then, Yarram had taken over the role of principal town in the area.Port Albert has berthed sailing ships from Europe and America and welcomed thousands of Chinese on their way to the goldfields. More than 40 Georgian and Victorian-style buildings still exist in the town.
We reached Tidal River at Wilsons Promontory in time for lunch. The ‘Prom’ as it is affectionately known was one of my favourite bushwalking places for many years. In the late 1960s I could leave my car at Mount Oberon with a note under the windscreen saying “Gone to the Lighthouse – back Tuesday”. Nowadays. the Prom is so loved and visited by so many people that one has to get a permit to camp at the remote camping locations well in advance of beginning a hike.
Wilson’s Promontory, the most southerly point of the Australian mainland and is about 250 km south-east of Melbourne. From the early 1800s sealers and whalers operated in Bass Strait, often using the east coast of Wilson’s Promontory as a base. Some mining and timber cutting operations existed over several periods of the Prom’s history.
The declaration of the National Park park in the 1905 generated great interest in the area despite its inaccessibility. Visitors could come by boat from Port Welshpool and walk across the isthmus from Corner Inlet or drive from Fish Creek, finishing the journey at low tide along a plank road on the beach. A ranger was appointed in 1909 and surveys of the flora and fauna were undertaken. A cottage at Darby River, on the western shore, was extended to accommodate guests, being known as Darby River Chalet. Tidal River, further south, was also a popular camping spot. By 1939, a new road had been constructed from Foster. However, the park was closed to the public during World War II. An army commando training camp was established at Tidal River, and a road built between Tidal River and Darby River. After the war the camp buildings at Tidal River became the base for a holiday village, providing lodges and a camping area, and park headquarters moved there.
We spent some time exploring the area around Tidal River (not enough time or energy for the longer overnight hikes) and around the pretty little beaches on the Western side of the peninsula – Squeaky Beach, Whisky Cove and Picnic Bay.
We spent our final night in the nicest motel of the entire trip at Foster and then meandered home. I was happy to get home and try to sort out why our Internet was not working. We had a power outage on the day before we left to go away and I had expected it to come on again and have everything reconnected by the time we arrived home. Instead, a call to Telstra ended up in appointment with a technician who came today and installed a new connection box that had got fried with the power surge from the power outage. I’m very happy that we are back on the air again.