After devastating fires and floods, Ben Robertson, the Ranger in Charge of Wilsons Promontory, is proud to announce that the iconic Victorian National Park is virtually back to business as usual.
"Aside from one 10 kilometre track, we feel that the park is almost at 100 per cent again. In March 2011 we had 375mm of rain in Tidal River in a 24 hour period. That's around 15 inches of rain in a day - which is astronomical. I'm told that the figure was closer to 500mm in the mountains and the ground just couldn't handle that volume of water. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the deluge was a one in a 300 year event. This devastation occurred on top of the fire in 2009 that burnt half the park and another fire in 2005 fire that burnt 16 per cent of the park," said Ben.
"Many of the paths have been closed since the floods; there were major landslips, all the gullies got saturated and the road fell away in various sections."
One of the most famous treks at the Prom is the walk to the peak of Mt Oberon, a spectacular outcrop that overlooks the beautiful Norman Bay and was named after the King of the Fairies, a Shakespearean character from Midsummer Night's Dream. From the summit, at 558 metres above sea level, you can admire the picturesque Tidal River meandering below. The three kilometre trek and the road to the start of the path were severely affected by the 2011 flood.
"It's been a huge engineering effort to rebuild the road. The team were working on it for over 12 months - the formal opening took place on December 21 with Peter Ryan, the Deputy Premier of Victoria. It's great to have Mt Oberon open again - together with Tidal River, it's one of the most recognised aspects of the National Park. Generations of people have climbed it. We often talk with campers who tell us that they started coming here when they were children and continue to return throughout their life. People just love it, it gets in their blood and it becomes part of their family."
Wilsons Promontory is the southernmost point of mainland Australia, situated around 200 kilometres southeast of Melbourne. The National Park is noted for its stunning coastal walks and predominance of wildlife including swamp wallabies, wombats and potoroos.
Ben is proud to inform Flight Centre that all 484 camp sites were completely booked out over the recent holiday period, with around 4000 people camping at Tidal River and up to 3000 day visitors deciding to explore this beautiful part of Australia. During holiday periods, The Prom holds a ballot for locals wishing to camp on site but the team also keep some spots available for international guests who are unaware of the ballot system.
When asked about his favourite spot within the National Park, Ben, who's been living in the township of Tidal River since he took up his position at the Prom in November 2010, points to the central waterway.
"I have one year old twins, called Mollie and Otis and I take them down to Tidal River and let them crawl around in the shallow water. It's extremely popular with families and young kids. There are no nasties around and the kids just love it. That's our favourite thing to do."