Wilsons Promontory - Grandeur and Vulnerability

Updated: Nov 4


Refuge Cove - Wilsons Promontory National Park

Wilsons Promontory National Park, south-east of Melbourne, is the southernmost tip of Australia. A UNESCO designated biosphere reserve, its landscape is characterised by mountains, forests and fern gullies fringed by granite headlands, sandy beaches and sheltered coves backed by coastal dunes, heathlands and swamps.


Why we love Wilsons Prom


The park, 48, 244 ha in size, contains the largest coastal wilderness area in Victoria and adjoins the Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park, Victoria’s largest marine national park. Wilsons Prom was the first national park to be declared in Victoria.


Wilsons Promontory was known as 'Wamoon' or 'Wamoom' by the Aboriginal peoples who collected shellfish there over 6000 years ago. The traditional owner groups of Wilsons Prom are the Boon Wurrung, Bunurong and Gunaikurnai.


More than 400,000 people visit the ‘The Prom’ each year. It’s so popular that front-country camping permits are issued by a ballot system in summer.


Waterloo Bay - Wilson Promontory National Park

130 km of stunning coastline attracts divers, snorkelers, surfers, and paddlers. And with ultra-beautiful over-night hikes and off-track walking appeal, this park is a favourite destination for bushwalkers. Even the climbers are entertained with 182 routes listed on ‘the Crag’.


Front-country camping and facilities, friendly beaches and inlets, and lots of activities makes the park family friendly. And with a huge number of tour operators conducting business in the park, visitors of all abilities have a smorgasbord of guided activities to choose from.


Wilsons Prom has outstanding natural values, it’s loved by thousands and provides recreation for an array of outdoor enthusiasts as well as work for outdoor educators, tour guides and tourism works, parks staff, and others.


This really is a park for everyone.


Let’s keep it that way.


Sealers Swamp - Wilsons Promontory National Park

Climate Change and Wilsons Prom


Climate change has had and will increasingly have an impact on National Parks in Australia, and environments across the world. Here are some of the specific impacts that have been observed or are anticipated to occur in Wilsons Promontory.


Riparian and Wetland Environments


Riparian and Wetland habitats within the park are likely to be impacted by changes associated with climate change. For coastal habitats this includes sea level rise, increased surges and changes in water temperature. For freshwater habitat this includes reduced inflows or increased intensity of inflows, influenced by increases in the intensity of storms and droughts. In 2011, freshwater habitats experienced floods, which resulted in significant washout and shifting of waterways.


Water Column


The open waters that surround Wilsons Promontory house an important array of native plant and animal life. Changes to marine systems associated with climate change are already being observed, including changes in currents and the consequent arrival of species from other regions.


Heathland


Heathland habitats in Wilsons Prom are threatened by the fungal pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomic. Heavy precipitation events are increasing globally as a result of climate change. The 2011 flooding event has been linked to a dramatic increase in the presence and spread of Phytophthora in the park’s heathlands.


Wet Forest and Rainforest


Climate change increases the risk of fire, flooding and extreme weather events which can all negatively impact wet forest and rainforest habitats.


Weed Invasion


Weed invasion is listed as an extreme threat to the conservation assets in the park landscape identified by the Wilsons Promontory Conservation Plan. The threat of weeds will change over time with shifting climates.


Biodiversity


Climate change is having and will increasingly impact biodiversity around the world. The hooded plover, a threatened species that lives in the park, could be threatened in the future from the coastal squeeze effect where nests on beaches are subject to rising sea levels and intensified storm surges.


Inappropriate fire regimes


An over-application of fire is a primary threat that poses an extreme risk across many ecosystems within Wilsons Prom.


In conclusion


The conservation of Wilsons Promontory faces several threats, not all related to climate change. Key threats not related to climate change include total grazing and browsing pressure, and predation by cats and foxes. Australian environments face many pressures. Climate change is an added challenge to already strained ecosystems.


Hooded Plover | Photo by Annika on Unsplash

How to Help


  1. If you’re interested in more information about the conservation of Wilsons Prom you can download the Wilsons Promontory Conservation Action Plan (where most of this information came from) here.

  2. If you'd like to engage in conservation volunteering within the National Park check out the Friends of the Prom group here.

  3. If you’re concerned about impacts of climate change on Wilsons Prom and other loved Australian places, why not take action to address climate change. Visit our Take Action page or our Blog Post of 100 things you can do to take climate action while COVID-19 restriction are in place.


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References:


https://www.visitpromcountry.com.au/wilsons-promontory

http://south-gippsland.com/wilsons-prom/

https://www.parks.vic.gov.au/places-to-see/parks/wilsons-promontory-national-park

file:///C:/Users/Default%20User.DESKTOP-GMSK330/Downloads/wilsons-promontory-national-park-management-plan.pdf

file:///C:/Users/Default%20User.DESKTOP-GMSK330/Downloads/Wilsons-prom-conservation-action-plan-CAP.pdf

https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/wilsons-promontory-20040208-gdkqxp.html

https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Climate-council-extreme-weather-report.pdf

https://wilsonspromoet.weebly.com/aboriginal-history.html

https://www.thecrag.com/climbing/australia/wilsons-promontory

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Throughout Australia, we respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land and their Elders past, present and future.