Trail Running Wilsons Promontory and Mount Oberon
Huge granite faces stare out into what seems like endless miles of sea as Mount Oberon casts its shadow on the neighbouring peaks well before the sun truly sets, adding a needless sense of urgency to my ascent.
I had set out from Tidal River Campground earlier in the evening, with sunset just under two hours away, I’d predicted that, once summiting I would have about thirty to forty minutes spare before the sun would set! I noticed that the inland forests, protected from the harsh winds of Bass Straight by the mountains, harboured an entirely different ecosystem to their coastal counterparts, with large Eucalypts and delicate ferns playing host to a variety of flora and fauna. At one point I was escorted up to the summit by a swamp wallaby, I had come around the corner of the densely wooded trail and startled it, causing it to run off further along the trail and as I once again got closer this process repeated itself for at least 250 metres.
Arriving at the plateau below the summit, I looked around at the telecom towers and thought to myself “surely this isn’t it, there has to be a track to the summit somewhere!” and sure enough after closer inspection there was a small track leading to the summit of Mount Oberon. This track, carved through smooth granite shaped by the elements over millennia. Upon summiting, I was left speechless at the panoramic views spanning from the far south to the north west.
With over forty minutes before the setting of the sun, I made myself comfortable and whilst taking in the view from 558 metres above sea level I let my mind wander. I was drawn to the similarity between the smooth granite faces of the mountain and the coastal forests which, unlike the aforementioned inland forests were at the mercy of the elements with the infamous winds of bass straight bending the trees and limiting their growth until they resembled the mountains of granite they stood upon. As I pondered the sun had begun to set in earnest and I quickly took a few photographs as the light faded.
Pulling my NiteCore headtorch on, I turned and began to descend, running from the very summit, racing through the trees under a canopy of eucalypts and tree ferns, I looked to my watch and saw my pace “3:15” at this moment I realised that I had a chance to take advantage of the long and well-maintained path back to Tidal River and run a very fast five-kilometre time! Letting gravity take control I lengthened my stride and let loose, flying down the mountain through the telegraph saddle carpark passing wombat burrows and kookaburras as I came through the 5k mark in around 17 minutes.Recalling that the first 500 metres had been narrow single track carved into the granite face of Oberon I realised that I could run an even faster 5k if I kept going for another kilometre. Finishing the run with a 5k time of 16:33, I stopped my watch and walked into camp, with burning quads and a smile on my face!
I urge anyone with a keen sense of adventure to visit Wilsons Promontory and explore what the region has to offer, with crystal blue water, towering peaks, and well-maintained facilities it really is natures playground and I certainly plan on coming back at some point in the future when I have more time to explore and potentially competing in the Wilsons Prom 100 an ultra-marathon set amongst the spectacular coast of south eastern Victoria!