Up next on my East coast road trip is Wilsons Promontory. A place my friend Amanda described as ‘somewhere you go on a school trip’. So it’s safe to say I had low expectations.
It took about an hour to drive to Wilsons from Phillip Island and as soon as I entered the national park, there was a sign to stop and to pick up a visitor’s guide. I’m glad I did so as little did I know my phone would lose signal quickly upon entering and I relied heavily on the visitor’s guide to show me the way to the Telegraph car park.On the way, I stopped the van to have a mini photoshoot with a wombat chomping down on the grass. How cute! Other than the penguins at the Pengiun Parade on Phillip Island, this was my first sighting of any wild Australian animal and I fell in love. Sometimes all it takes for a depressed earth sign is to surround myself with nature to feel a sense of happiness again. That is exactly what I was planning on doing.Mount Oberon was my first stop. It took about an hour to hike to the top. There, I said a friendly ‘hello’ to every passer-by, but didn’t stop to chat. One guy did tell me to be careful at the top as it was kind of windy, but that was about it.Near the top, I was greeted by some telegraph poles and power lines. Not exactly the natural view I envisioned. I saw a man standing by a ‘no trespassing’ sign, whistling to himself. He was watching me and I wondered what it would be like to be murdered on the top of a hill in a national park when I didn’t have any phone signal. Don’t ask. It’s always where my mind goes.Luckily the man didn’t murder me and I carried on up the mountain. The next biggest challenge was the wind. Now that had a higher chance of ending my life as I felt myself almost get swept off my feet and down the cliff edge. I didn’t spend long at the top admiring the view for this reason. Better get back down to a flat surface and quick.When I returned to the telegraph car park, I saw several kangaroos and wallabies. Well, I’m not entirely sure the two species hang out together like this. It might have been a large group of kangaroos and teenage kangaroos, but I’m going to pretend at least some of them were wallabies so I can tick off another Australian animal on my list.I think kangaroos are completely fascinating as every time I see wild ones, they all seem to be watching me with as much intrigue as I have watching them. Surely they must have seen plenty of humans in their day? Whereas I, an English girl new to kanga country, has every right to be in awe every time I see such an unusual animal. It’s always weird to find yourself in a staring match with a group of kangaroos. I awkwardly edged closer to my car, careful not to get too close in case any of them decide to fight me. I’ve heard stories. Now that’s another death I’d rather avoid.Having only spent an hour and a half hiking Mount Oberon, I decided to walk down to Darby Beach and make the most of the remaining hours of daylight before heading back on Princes Highway. It started to rain and as I had already been on plenty of beaches on Phillip Island and the Mornington Peninsula, this beach didn’t quite live up to the rest of them. Luckily I did get to see another wombat so that was a treat.Overall, I enjoyed Wilson’s Promontory, even though I kept thinking about death. An emu ran out at me across the road as I was leaving. Luckily, I was driving like a careful old woman and was far enough away to slow down to a stop. The emu freaked out and ran across the road, back and forth, as if my van slowing down to stop was enough to confuse it into forgetting where it was going. I reached for my phone to get a video of this strange creature, but as soon as I found the camera option, the emu disappeared into the trees and was on it’s way. That was wild Australian animal number four.
Maybe everything comes in fours, because my fourth encounter with an almost death was yet to come and this one was by far the scariest.The sun had set and I was slowly trudging down Princes Highway. When I say ‘slowly’, I was driving according to the speed limit, which was pretty fast. So, no, I was not driving slow at all. I had my high vis lights on, fully aware that I had already passed a large number of Aussie road kill and I was not about to contribute to the statistic.
You know what happens next, don’t you? A kangaroo jumped out at me. Forget those mini wallabies or teenage kangas from before, this was definitely a kangaroo! No, this was a kangaroo mutant monster thing with muscly arms and standing as tall as my van. I was way too close and going way too fast to slow down to a stop like I did with the emu. My only choice was to swerve.
I’m not sure whether this is quick thinking or pure stupidity but I decided to indicate that I was going on the other side of the road, even though there was no car behind me, no car in front of me and I hadn’t seen another car for miles. However, instead of switching to indicate, I somehow knocked the indicator to turn off all the lights. Pitch black. A kangaroo jumped out at me and then I was plunged into darkness. Yep, I had most certainly died this time.
And yet, I hadn’t died. In a split second, I saw the silhouette of the monster kangaroo on the other side of the road. The lights from the cat eyes shining all around it’s beastly frame. Yeah, maybe kangaroos aren’t my favourite animals. I switched my lights back on and carried on driving. No more close calls for me. I would be driving like a careful old woman all the way to my next stop, Jervis Bay.