It is pretty magical to stand on top of a 200′ high hill which straddles Squeaky Beach and Norman Bay at the edge of the Southern Ocean – the great, infamous Southern Ocean, just off the southern coast of Australia, (you know, that country way down under).
On Wilsons Prom
While the island state of Tasmania is the southernmost of the country, the most southern point of the continent is in a national park called Wilsons Promontory. Locals call it The Prom, and since I am visiting the area for a few weeks and trying to fit in as a local (albeit with a funny American accent), I too call it The Prom.
Driving in, I’m happy to a be a passenger so I can gawk and look for kangaroos, wombats and emus. I feel like I’m on an African safari, but here I know it’s safe to actually get out of the car for photography. My friend (and our driver) Geoff breezes past a mob of emus and I choke back panic that I’ll never get to see them again. He assures me I will.
Thankfully the blustery weather keeps away most tourists and we nearly have the entire Prom to ourselves. We will explore, fish and hike over the few days and on one day we are luckily graced with the perfect winter day under a bright blue cloudless sky. It’s cool enough to need a jacket in the shade, but warm enough to put bare feet in the cold Southern Ocean (but only for 12 seconds).
Rock and River FishingDetermined to catch an elusive fish or two (since beach fishing wasn’t working), Geoff climbs up the rocks for an improved vantage point. Just look at the action on his fishing rod and try to guess how big that catch is! Ultimately we hike about 5 miles and learn why Squeaky Beach is so named. You can guess – the soft, white quartz sand truly is squeaky!
One evening, Geoff and I walk alongside Tidal River in search of another good fishing spot and en route I am able to get quite close to a wombat. This round butterball-like creature waddles along, munching on grassy shrubs. At ground level, I wait and wait to make eye contact, but this fuzzy fella keeps his head buried, and I eventually move on. Later we do get to make eye contact with beautiful kookaburras (yes they laugh) and vivid red and blue parrots on our back deck.
The air is so still and the water so dark that is seems like we are casting our lines into a pool of liquid black ink. I later learn that the water is so dark because of the large amount of tea trees in the area.
Mob of Emus
Although I’m still disappointed that I hadn’t seen the emus again, it’s time to leave The Prom. To my delight, not 10 miles down the road we re-discover the mob! I jump out of the car and gingerly make my way closer to two of the emus. They are nonplussed and as I approach, my pictures keep getting better an better – until the emus start snorting and barking. Geoff tells me that is how they are communicating that I have gotten too close and I should back off. Gladly! I quietly return to the car, giddy over my little excursion.
So we wave good-bye to The Prom and revel in all things adventurous – rock fishing, wombats, emu mobs and the southern most point of the Australian continent. Not too bad at all!