Tidal River, Wilsons Promontory

Tidal River, Wilsons Promontory

Tidal River is a river in Wilsons Promontory National Park, Wilsons Promontory, Victoria, Australia. It is also a permanent camping ground that takes its name from the river, which flows past the camping ground to the north, and provides it with all its fresh water.

The campsite

Tidal River is the only permanent camping ground within Wilsons Promontory National Park. All other camping is restricted to overnight stays at bush camps while undertaking the many through-walks available in the park.

Tidal River camping ground nestles in sand dunes behind Norman Bay, on the western side of the peninsula. The only road open to visitors leads from Yanakie at the park entrance to Tidal River, a distance of 32km. When fully occupied, Tidal River is a township of over 2000 people with a general store, a service station, fish and chippery, café and an outdoor cinema, established since the late 1940s. It is a nostalgic favourite amongst summer campers who will sometimes line up for over an hour before tickets can be bought so they can save a seat in the front row with a blanket for the 9.15pm start. Tidal River is the only place in Wilsons Promontory that has proper, flushing toilets.

Tidal River is the starting point of numerous short and not so short walks. Probably the most famous is the overnight hike to South Point and the Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse on South East Point. South Point (the most southerly point of the Australian mainland) is mostly unremarkable of itself, and is easily overshadowed by South East Point, the site of the Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse. The hike to the Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse, with detour to South Point, is over 25km. The return walk, via a different path (and no detour) is a little over 20km.

One of the most popular walks for families staying at Tidal river is the 3km Squeaky Beach walk, an enjoyable walk which passes over the ridge separating Norman and Squeaky Beach. As its name suggests, Squeaky Beach, squeaks when walked on. This is due to the ultra-fine quartz sand particles, all of which are the same size and shape. The beach is very popular among children as it has many large rocks that can be climbed. The water, however, is very rough and often full of rips. The beach also has a small stream, similar in colour to Tidal River.

For most of the year campers can set up their tents without having to book a place at the campsite. However in the peak seasons, such as Christmas and Easter a reservation is required due to the popularity of the site.

The river

As its name suggests, Tidal River swells with the tide. When a high tide occurs a the same time as a large amount of precipitation, the river can flood the tracks and boardwalks surrounding the area. The river runs into Norman Beach, one of the 'safer' beaches of The Prom. Because of its proximity to the beach and the types of rocks in the area, the Tidal River bed is composed purely of fine sand. The sand can be walked on when the tide it is low. However it is very squishy and squelchy, due to the fineness of the sand particles mixed with the surrounding dirt.

Tidal River is a very interesting colour, ranging from a deep-yellow in shallower areas to a dark-purple and almost black in the deeper spots. This discolouration is due to the large number of tea trees present in the area. The trees dye the river, making it appear like black tea (hence the name 'tea tree'). Even though the water is very clean and clear it is impossible to see to the bottom in the deep areas. Few water creatures inhabit the river.

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