Wilsons Promontory – affectionately known as The Prom – is home to traditional owners the Gunaikurnai and it’s the kind of place that gets under your skin and becomes a part of your family’s folklore.
It happened to much-loved author and former Australian Children’s Laureate Alison Lester. She was born and raised on a cattle farm overlooking the Prom in nearby Foster. “When I was a kid I thought it was mine,” she says. “Because when I was really small my father and uncle used to lease the southern part of the Prom to run cattle on. There’s a very strong family connection there.”
These days the award-winning creator of classics such as Magic Beach, Are We There Yet? and Noni The Pony lives in Nar Nar Goon North, but she has inherited a patch of the old farm where she regularly catches up with her three children, their partners and seven grandchildren. Four years ago Alison opened a bookshop in Fish Creek, just north of the Prom. It’s been a great success, and last year she convinced friend and fellow children’s book author Roland Harvey to set up shop too.
Roland, an author of award-winning picture books including My Place In Space, Islands In My Garden and On The River, already had a connection with the Prom. His family had a timeshare plot of land near Yanakie in the 1980s. “We had 10 acres looking out over the water and we used to just camp on it,” he says from his kitchen in Falls Road, in the centre of town. “We loved it and got to know Sandy Point and the Prom, of course.”
The arrival of Alison and Roland strengthens an established creative arts scene, which includes contemporary art gallery Gecko Studio, Andrew McPherson’s Ride the Wild Goat gallery and workshop, and the exquisite botanical art of Celia Rosser.
Nearby towns such as Meeniyan are attracting visitors too, with good food (such as Trulli Woodfire Pizzeria), great op shops and free wifi for tourists. Pubs such as the art deco-styled Fish Creek Hotel, laconically draped with a giant mullet, offer a cosy fireplace in cooler months and decent food all year round. Known by most simply as the Fishy Pub, it’s been a meeting place for locals since 1939.