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National Parks Phillip Island - Gippsland

Wilsons Promontory National Park
Just three hours from Melbourne is one of the finest national parks in the country, the 50,000 hectare Wilsons Promontory National Park.

Wilsons Promontory - which juts out into Bass Strait - constitutes the southernmost point of the Australian mainland. It was described by explorer George Bass as the "cornerstone of this continent called "New Holland" after he saw the Prom in the first days of 1798.

Bass named the area Furneaux's Land but it was later renamed in honour of a prominent London businessman, Thomas Wilson. It is believed Wilsons Promontory was once part of a "land bridge" connecting the mainland with Tasmania. In another age the Prom is thought to have been an island. The gradual build up of a 20 kilometre stretch of sand dunes, known as the Yanakie Isthmus, is said to have reconnected the Prom with the mainland.

The Aborigines who once lived here were members of the Boon-Oor-Rong tribe and their middens are still evident on the western side of the promontory. Long before Bass's official visit, the area was frequented by sealers and whalers. Whale bones can still be seen in the waters of Sealers and Refuge Coves on the eastern side.

In many respects it is still much the same as it was at the time of Bass's first visit. It is comprised of imposing granite mountains, sweeping plains, thick forests and some of the finest beaches in the country. These range from sheltered little coves to long surf beaches.

The Prom is the ideal place for bushwalking and a full appreciation of the magnificent array of native wildlife Australia has to offer. The friendliest are the parrots which flock around anyone offering food at Tidal River.

Tidal River is the "capital" of the Prom. It is made up of an information centre, museum, caravan and camping grounds with some cabins. Here you will find a cairn which acknowledges the use of the Prom as a commando training camp during World War II.

Tarra Bulga National Park
Just north-west of Yarram is the famous Tarra Bulga National Park.

It takes its name partly from the Aborigine Charlie Tarra who accompanied explorer Paul Edmund de Strzelecki through the area in 1840. Strzelecki's party would have perished if not for the hunting skills of Tarra.

The park is the veritable jewel in the crown of what the locals call Tarra Territory". The park is comprised of two sections - Tarra and Bulga. These lush areas of rainforest are all that remain of a great forest of trees which at one time covered all of Gippsland. Noted for their towering mountain ash and thick cover of ferns, both sections of the park are linked by the Grand Ridge Road.

The Park has plenty of walking tracks, a picnic area and a host of wildlife, including the remarkable lyrebird.

Photo courtesy - Tourism VIC
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