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Wilsons Promontory National Park History



Wilsons Promontory National Park is known for its untouched beauty, bushwalking, camping and abundant wildlife. Wilsons Promontory is known as 'Wamoon', (also known as Yirik) to the traditional owners of this land, the Brataualung clan from the Gunai (Kurnai) community. There are remnants of shell maidens dating back thousands of years behind many beaches. Today, local Aboriginal communities are active in establishing cultural and spiritual links with the park and in undertaking park management activities. The Boon Wurrung, Bunurong and Gunai - Kurnai identify the Wilsons Promontory National Park as their Traditional Country.

More than 12,000 years ago, when the sea level was six metres higher than at present, 'The Prom' was a group of islands with only the mountain tips showing above water level. When the sea level dropped, (to form the land bridge to Tasmania), a series of sand dunes formed over a basalt base creating the Yanakie Isthmus, and so constructing a link between of the previous islands and the mainland. When the sea level rose again to its present level, the Yanakie Isthmus & Peninsula formed what is now the present day Wilsons Promontory, standing on high ground at the ‘Prom’ today you can imagine where that land bridge to Tasmania once was. 

The first Europeans to sight Wilson's Promontory are believed to be George Bass and Matthew Flinders in 1798. It is believed that George Bass named the area ‘Wilsons’ Promontory after a friend of Matthew Flinders back in England. Since the establishment of European settlement in the region, Wilsons Promontory has changed quite a bit. Sealer’s Cove became a hot spot for commercial use and this had dramatic effects on seal numbers in the area. In 1804, an American vessel known as the ‘Union’, reportedly obtained 600,000 seal skins, the total number of seals in the southern ocean today are far lower than that. After the collapse of this industry, they went on to exploit whales and short tailed shearwater birds for their oil. Local timber was utilized as fuel to boil the blubber, at the expense of the natural surroundings. 

Wilsons Promontory is the most southerly point of mainland Australia. The area was declared a National Park in 1905 as it had been a reserve site for nearly 10 years. This makes it the oldest National Park in Australia!

Wilsons Promontory delivers the best of Australia's flora and fauna to the public arena. There are over 30 species of native mammals (not including marine mammals) which have been recorded in the park as well as an abundance of native bird life in the area.

Take a Wilsons Promontory National Park Tour with Bunyip Tours or try a tour package to receive a discount!