I listen carefully as I step on the sand. Nothing.
I try walking slowly, I try walking quickly. I try walking softly, I try walking firmly. Still nothing.
I have been misled. I was told that the sand underfoot would make a squeaking noise when I trod on it. Perhaps I’m just doing it wrong. It must work for most people. Why else would they have named this place Squeaky Beach?
Squeaky Beach is one of the closest spots to the main accommodation area here at Wilsons Promontory, a few hours southeast of the Australian city of Melbourne.
Wilsons Promontory, or ‘The Prom’ as the locals call it, is a national park made up of a large bulge of land that sticks out from the coast.
The whole area is protected – making it a beautiful and wild natural haven. But this protection means there are limited facilities for visitors.
The main accommodation area I mentioned is at a place called Tidal River, at the southern end of Wilsons Promontory.
There are no hotels or anything like that. There are cabins of various sizes and spaces for campervans or tents. During the busy periods, spaces will be limited. You should always book ahead and you can find information here about accommodation at Tidal River.
It’s from Tidal River that I walk to Squeaky Beach. It’s not a long walk – about thirty minutes at a steady pace – but it gives me a good sense of the landscapes of the area.
First I cross a bridge over the river, which is wide and shallow this close to the sea. Then through some bush to cut across a headland until I get views of the beach from above.
The path then goes along a ridge along the coast but I make my own detour and scramble along the rocks down near the water’s edge, the waves splashing around me.
Until I pass a small wallaby who looks at me warily and I step onto the sand… which doesn’t squeak.
This is such a tiny part of Wilsons Promontory, though. In fact, the national park is about 50,000 hectares in size and much of it is inaccessible by car. I think there are a couple of ways to approach a visit.
One way is to do what I am doing, which is stopping over for the night on a road trip (in my case, from Melbourne to Sydney).
If you get to Wilsons Promontory by lunchtime, you can spend the afternoon and early evening exploring the area around Tidal River. There’s probably even time for a morning swim or a climb up Mount Oberon before you leave.
Alternatively, this would be a wonderful place to spend a few days. That’s what the locals do.
With the drive from Melbourne just a few hours, friends come for a long weekend or families for a week during school holidays. An extended stay gives you the chance to explore a few different parts of The Prom and relax in the process.
Spend the afternoon at the beach, go kayaking on the river, hike to one of the more isolated stretches of coastline.
That’s what I would do next time… and I hope there is a next time. I love that there are no hotels and no restaurants (other than a takeaway food shop during the day).
It’s such a relaxing place, away from major development, away from stress. There are so many different areas to discover, along tracks to huts where you have to stay overnight, around the coastline, up mountains.
I watch sunset at Whisky Bay – a real highlight of the stay and then, in the evening, cook my own dinner. I barbecue a steak and make some potatoes and salad to go with it.
Everyone else here is doing something similar – cooking their dinner together, perhaps looking up at the bright stars, listening to the noise of the Australian wildlife in the bush around them.
Later in the evening, after dinner but before I’ve gone to bed, I hear a noise outside and I poke my head out the door.
There, just a metre or two away, is a wombat eating the grass in front of me. It looks up briefly and then focuses on the ground again, chomping a bit, shuffling slightly, chomping a bit more.
The wombat is relaxed – perhaps partly because all the humans around him are also relaxed. And why would you not be? After a day or more of these stunning views, you’ll feel like you’ve found where you’re meant to be.