Tidal River (Victoria)
Tidal River and the camp ground looking south
|Regions||Furneaux (IBRA), South Gippsland, Wilsons Promontory|
|Local government area||South Gippsland Shire|
|Part of||West Gippsland catchment|
|Source||Mount Latrobe, Wilson Range|
|- elevation||367 m (1,204 ft)|
|Mouth||Norman Bay, then Bass Strait|
|- elevation||0 m (0 ft)|
|Length||6 km (4 mi)|
|National park||Wilsons Promontory NP|
The Tidal River is a perennial river of the West Gippsland catchment, located in the Wilsons Promontory region of the Australian state of Victoria. A permanent camping ground that takes its name from the river, which flows past the camping ground to the north, is also called Tidal River.
Location and features
The Tidal River rises below Mount Latrobe, part of the Wilson Range within the Wilsons Promontory National Park, and flows generally west by south before reaching its mouth within Norman Bay at the seasonal settlement of , and emptying into Bass Strait. The river descends 367 metres (1,204 ft) over its 6-kilometre (3.7 mi) course.
The colour of the Tidal River ranges from a deep-yellow (in shallower areas) to a dark-purple and almost black (in its deeper depths). This discolouration is due to the large number of tea trees present in the area. The trees dye the river, making it appear like black tea (hence the name 'tea tree').[verification needed] Even though the water is very clean and clear, it is impossible to see to the bottom in the deep areas. Few water creatures inhabit the river.
As its name suggests, Tidal River swells with the tide. When a high tide occurs at the same time as a large amount of precipitation, the river can flood the tracks and boardwalks surrounding the area. The river runs into Norman Beach, one of the 'safer' beaches of the promontory. Because of its proximity to the beach and the types of rocks in the area, the Tidal River bed is composed purely of fine sand. The sand can be walked on when the tide it is low. However, it is very squishy and squelchy, due to the fineness of the sand particles mixed with the surrounding dirt.
Tidal River is the only permanent camping ground within Wilsons Promontory National Park. All other camping is restricted to overnight stays at bush camps while undertaking the many through-walks available in the park. Tidal River camping ground nestles in sand dunes behind Norman Bay, on the western side of the peninsula. The only road open to visitors leads from Yanakie at the park entrance to Tidal River, a distance of 32 kilometres (20 mi). When fully occupied, the settlement of Tidal River swells to over 2,000 people, serviced by a general store, a service station, fish and chippery, café and an outdoor cinema, established in the late 1940s, which is a nostalgic favourite amongst summer campers who will sometimes line up for over an hour before tickets can be bought so they can save a seat in the front row with a blanket. Tidal River is the only place in Wilsons Promontory that has proper, flushing toilets.
Tidal River settlement is the starting point of numerous short and not so short walks. Probably the most popular is the overnight hike to South Point and the Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse on South East Point. South Point (the most southerly point of the Australian mainland) is mostly unremarkable of itself, and is easily overshadowed by South East Point, the site of the Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse. The hike to the Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse, with detour to South Point, is over 25 kilometres (16 mi). The return walk, via a different path (and no detour) is a little over 20 kilometres (12 mi).
One of the most popular walks for campers staying at the Tidal River campsite is the 3-kilometre (1.9 mi) Squeaky Beach walk, an enjoyable walk which passes over the ridge separating Norman and Squeaky Beach. As its name suggests, Squeaky Beach, squeaks when walked on. This is due to the ultra-fine quartz sand particles, all of which are the same size and shape. The beach is very popular among children as it has many large rocks that can be climbed. The water, however, is very rough and often full of rips. The beach also has a small stream, similar in colour to Tidal River.
For most of the year campers can set up their tents without having to book a place at the campsite. However, in the peak seasons, such as Christmas and Easter a reservation is required due to the popularity of the site.