real life

TRAVEL: Celebs & paparazzi at Wilson's Promontory National Park

The views at Wilson's Prom are unbeatable ...

They sit quietly, eyes focused on possible spotting sites, ready to pounce at any moment. SNAP! Got one! Inch a little closer…

SNA… Damn! The target’s eyes glance towards the snappers and, diverting their faces from the camera lens, off they dash. This last photo, the one that should be the money shot, is of the target’s back.

It’s a scene straight from the streets of Hollywood, except for a couple of big differences: we’re in the Victorian bush – Wilson’s Promontory National Park, to be exact – and the celebrities in question are the animals. This puts me in the role of a paparazzo. How unfortunate.

Our family trip to the southernmost tip of the Australian mainland was defined by wildlife. The park’s natives are so accustomed to visitors that they are neither keenly interested nor scared, instead acting nonchalant about the whole affair.

It all began when we arrived at the Tidal River campground. It’s the only place to stay on the Prom itself (I don’t mean to sound over-enthusiastic; I mean it’s literally the only place you can stay here) and prides itself on being friendly to the critters. By dusk there were little cuddly-looking animals crawling everywhere, sniffing out campers’ food.

This is the one time they’re interested in humans: when they leave food lying around. There are signs everywhere, and many reported stories, warning of a wombat’s ability to get into anything if they smell food – so whatever you do, don’t keep food lying around. Unless you’re safely tucked in one of Tidal River’s beautiful (wombat-proof) cabins, that is.

Spot the kangaroo ...

By nightfall they were hard to spot. After one near-catastrophic visit to the loo, my husband came back to our campsite laughing. ‘Take a torch when you go,’ he advised. ‘I just tripped over a wombat.’ (A pearl of wisdom that should have warned us against all night-time Prom activity. No, not like that, it was all very innocent… oh, just read on to hear the story.)

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We forgot that all good celebrities come out at night – and they don’t always appreciate a spotlight on them. We headed out for a dinner of delicious local seafood and wine at a pub just off the Prom, and drove back into the national park after dark. Quite a nerve-racking experience, given the number of kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, emus and even deer constantly jumping in front of us. Lesson learnt: celebrity spotting is best done in the daylight hours.

We did, however, have enough sense to wait until daylight to partake in the Prom’s most popular activity – bushwalking – beginning with a newly introduced track in an area known for its dense wildlife population. (And we all know celebrities can be a bit on the dense side.) We started the Woodland Walk as sceptics; the grass was so low and the ground so flat that we were sure if there were any animals to be seen we’d have spotted them all straight away.

We walked anyway, and soon found our eyes tuning in to the environment. Put it this way: the low grass was brown, as are kangaroos and emus. They were there – by the hundreds – but they blended in so well to their surroundings that they were invisible to the human eye, unless that eye was very careful and considered with its looking.

Our other walk for the weekend was a venture to the top of Mt. Bishop, which had us spotting the traces of wildlife, rather than the animals themselves. From wombat holes to the sound of frogs to wildlife poo.

And then we stopped and basked in those views for a while.

That was that. We waved goodbye to the kangaroos, wallabies, emus and wombat holes (they were obviously sleeping off a big night) and headed home.

Megan Blandford juggles two work-from-home careers, as a freelance writer and HR consultant, with her biggest role – Mum to a gorgeous and hilarious daughter. In between, she likes to travel at any given opportunity, and also writes a successful personal blog, Writing Out Loud [writingloud.blogspot.com]. Megan lives in the hills on the outskirts of Melbourne with her husband, daughter and a crazy Labrador.

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