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Wilsons Promontory

Wilsons Promontory

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Wilsons Promontory
is a peninsula
A peninsula is a piece of land that is bordered by water on three sides but connected to mainland. In many Germanic and Celtic languages and also in Baltic, Slavic and Hungarian, peninsulas are called "half-islands"....

 that forms the southernmost part of the Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

n mainland and is located at 39°02′S 146°23′E. South Point
South Point (Wilsons Promontory)
South Point is the southernmost point of the Australian mainland located on the northern side of Bass Strait. It is also the southernmost point of the mainland of the Wilsons Promontory-Peninsula. South Point is located at . South Point is also part of the Wilsons Promontory National Park in...

 at 39°08′06"S 146°22′32"E is the southernmost tip of Wilsons Promontory and hence of mainland Australia. Located at nearby South East Point
South East Point, Wilsons Promontory
South East Point lies on the southerly tip of Wilsons Promontory, Victoria, Australia. South East Point is located at . It commands sensational views of Bass Strait and is a major landmark for all ships travelling between the southern Australian ports and the Pacific Ocean. South East Point is the...

, (39°07′S 146°25′E) is the Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse
Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse
Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse is situated on South East Point, Wilsons Promontory, Victoria, Australia. From its pont on the peninsula, it commands almost 360° views of Bass Strait. The Wilson's Promontory lighthouse is the southernmost lighthouse on mainland Australia. The walk from the nearest...


Human history

Evidence of Aboriginal occupation at Wilsons Promontory dates back at least 6,500 years and the park is highly significant to the Gunai
The Gunai or Kurnai is an Indigenous Australian nation of south-east Australia whose territory occupied most of present-day Gippsland and much of the southern slopes of the Victorian Alps. The nation was not on friendly terms with the neighbouring Wurundjeri and Bunurong nations...

/Kurnai and the Boonerwrung Clans who call it Yiruk and Warnoon respectively.

The first European to see the promontory was George Bass
George Bass
George Bass was a British naval surgeon and explorer of Australia.-Early years:He was born on 30 January 1771 at Aswarby, a hamlet near Sleaford, Lincolnshire, the son of a tenant farmer, George Bass, and a local beauty named Sarah Nee Newman. His father died in 1777 when Bass was 6...

 in January 1798. He initially referred to it as "Furneaux's Land" in his diary, believing it to be what Captain Furneaux
Tobias Furneaux
Captain Tobias Furneaux was an English navigator and Royal Navy officer, who accompanied James Cook on his second voyage of exploration. He was the first man to circumnavigate the world in both directions....

 had previously seen. But on returning to Port Jackson
Port Jackson
Port Jackson, containing Sydney Harbour, is the natural harbour of Sydney, Australia. It is known for its beauty, and in particular, as the location of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge...

 and consulting Matthew Flinders
Matthew Flinders
Captain Matthew Flinders RN was one of the most successful navigators and cartographers of his age. In a career that spanned just over twenty years, he sailed with Captain William Bligh, circumnavigated Australia and encouraged the use of that name for the continent, which had previously been...

 he was convinced that the location was so different it could not be that land. Bass and Flinders recommended the name Wilsons Promontory to Governor Hunter
John Hunter (New South Wales)
Vice-Admiral John Hunter, RN was a British naval officer, explorer, naturalist and colonial administrator who succeeded Arthur Phillip as the second governor of New South Wales, Australia from 1795 to 1800.-Overview:...

, honouring Flinders's friend from London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 Thomas Wilson. Little is known of Wilson except that he was a merchant engaged in trade with Australia.

The promontory has been a National Park, to one degree or another, since 1898. Wilsons Promontory National Park
Wilsons Promontory National Park
Wilsons Promontory National Park, commonly known as Wilsons Prom or The Prom, is a national park in the Gippsland region of Victoria , 157 km southeast of Melbourne....

, also known locally as "the Prom", contains the largest coastal wilderness area in Victoria. The site was closed to the public during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, as it was used as a commando
In English, the term commando means a specific kind of individual soldier or military unit. In contemporary usage, commando usually means elite light infantry and/or special operations forces units, specializing in amphibious landings, parachuting, rappelling and similar techniques, to conduct and...

 training ground. The only settlement within Wilsons Promontory is Tidal River
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...

 which lies 30 km south of the park boundary and is the focus for tourism and recreation. This park is managed by Parks Victoria.http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au

In 2005 a burn started by staff got out of control and burnt 13% of the park, causing the evacuation of campers. http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2005/s1337684.htm

In 2009, a lightning strike near Sealer's Cove started a fire that burned over 25,000 hectares. Much of the area had not been burned since 1951. The fire began on February 8 during "Black Saturday" where an intense heat wave, combined with arson and natural causes, led to hundreds of bush fires burning throughout the state of Victoria. Although the fire burned to within one kilometer, the Tidal River camping area and park headquarters were unaffected. The park reopened to the public one month after the incident and the burned areas have quickly regrown. Despite the damage, the natural beauty of the area remains largely intact.

A map of the burned area is available online at http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au/resources/mresources/fire/prom-map.pdf

In March 2011 a significant rainfall event led to major flooding of the Tidal River camping area. The bridge over Darby river was cut, leaving no vehicle access to Tidal river, leading to the evacuation of all visitors by Helicopter over the following days, and the closure of the southern section of the park. In September 2011 public access to Tidal River was reopened following repair of the main access road, and the bridge at Darby river. All sections of the park south of Tidal River remain closed while further repairs are undertaken.


Coastal features include expansive intertidal mudflats, sandy beaches and sheltered coves interrupted by prominent headlands and plunging granite cliffs in the south, backed by coastal dunes and swamps. The promontory is surrounded by a scatter of small granite islands which, collectively, form the Wilsons Promontory Islands Important Bird Area
Wilsons Promontory Islands Important Bird Area
The Wilsons Promontory Islands Important Bird Area comprises a loose cluster of 19 small, granite islands, with a collective area of 658 ha, scattered around Wilsons Promontory in the state of Victoria, south-eastern Australia. The three southernmost islands are part of the state of Tasmania...

, identified as such by BirdLife International
BirdLife International
BirdLife International is a global Partnership of conservation organisations that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources...

 because of its importance for breeding seabird
Seabirds are birds that have adapted to life within the marine environment. While seabirds vary greatly in lifestyle, behaviour and physiology, they often exhibit striking convergent evolution, as the same environmental problems and feeding niches have resulted in similar adaptations...



Tidal River
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...

 is the main river in Wilsons Promontory. It runs into Norman Bay and swells with the tide (hence the name). The river is a very interesting colour, a purple-yellow. This is due to the large number of tea tree
Tea tree
Tea tree or Ti-tree is a popular name that has been applied to a number of different, unrelated plants:*Camellia sinensis , from which black, green, oolong and white tea are all obtained....

s in the area, which stain the water with tannin
A tannin is an astringent, bitter plant polyphenolic compound that binds to and precipitates proteins and various other organic compounds including amino acids and alkaloids.The term tannin refers to the use of...

, giving it a tealike appearance.


Wilsons Promontory is home to many marsupials, native birds and other creatures. One of the most common marsupials found in the prom is the wombat
Wombats are Australian marsupials; they are short-legged, muscular quadrupeds, approximately in length with a short, stubby tail. They are adaptable in their habitat tolerances, and are found in forested, mountainous, and heathland areas of south-eastern Australia, including Tasmania, as well as...

, which can be found in much of the park (especially around camp-sites where it has been known to invade tents searching for food). The peninsula is also home to kangaroo
A kangaroo is a marsupial from the family Macropodidae . In common use the term is used to describe the largest species from this family, especially those of the genus Macropus, Red Kangaroo, Antilopine Kangaroo, Eastern Grey Kangaroo and Western Grey Kangaroo. Kangaroos are endemic to the country...

s, wallabies
A wallaby is any of about thirty species of macropod . It is an informal designation generally used for any macropod that is smaller than a kangaroo or wallaroo that has not been given some other name.-Overview:...

, koala
The koala is an arboreal herbivorous marsupial native to Australia, and the only extant representative of the family Phascolarctidae....

s, long-nosed potoroo
Long-nosed Potoroo
The Long-nosed Potoroo is a species of Australian potoroo. It is listed as Endangered in Victoria , Vulnerable in Queensland and nationally , although the IUCN lists it as Lower Risk.At first glance the Long-nosed Potoroo with its...

s, white-footed dunnart
White-footed Dunnart
The White Footed Dunnart is a marsupial that occurs of Tasmania and Australia. It occurs along the coast and in inner Gippsland and Alpine areas up to 400 metres near Narbethong...

s, broad-toothed rats, feather-tailed gliders and emu
The Emu Dromaius novaehollandiae) is the largest bird native to Australia and the only extant member of the genus Dromaius. It is the second-largest extant bird in the world by height, after its ratite relative, the ostrich. There are three subspecies of Emus in Australia...

s. Some of the most common birds found on the promontory include crimson rosella
Crimson Rosella
The Crimson Rosella is a parrot native to eastern and south eastern Australia which has been introduced to New Zealand and Norfolk Island. It is commonly found in, but not restricted to, mountain forests and gardens. The species as it now stands has subsumed two former separate species, the Yellow...

s, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo
Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo
The Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo is a large cockatoo native to the south-east of Australia measuring 55–65 cm in length. It has a short crest on the top of its head. Its plumage is mostly brownish black and it has prominent yellow cheek patches and a yellow tail band...

s and superb fairy-wrens.
There are also many species which have been introduced, including deer, fox
Fox is a common name for many species of omnivorous mammals belonging to the Canidae family. Foxes are small to medium-sized canids , characterized by possessing a long narrow snout, and a bushy tail .Members of about 37 species are referred to as foxes, of which only 12 species actually belong to...

es, feral cat
Feral cat
A feral cat is a descendant of a domesticated cat that has returned to the wild. It is distinguished from a stray cat, which is a pet cat that has been lost or abandoned, while feral cats are born in the wild; the offspring of a stray cat can be considered feral if born in the wild.In many parts of...

s, rabbit
Rabbits are small mammals in the family Leporidae of the order Lagomorpha, found in several parts of the world...

s, starling
Starlings are small to medium-sized passerine birds in the family Sturnidae. The name "Sturnidae" comes from the Latin word for starling, sturnus. Many Asian species, particularly the larger ones, are called mynas, and many African species are known as glossy starlings because of their iridescent...

s, and blackbirds.