Cleft Island (Skull Rock)
It looks like something from a movie script; a large, stone, skull shaped rock rising halfway up from a deeply blue sea off an isolated stretch of coast. This isn’t some villain’s lair, however, but a famous rock off Wilson’s Promontory on Victoria’s southern coast. This rugged peninsula is the southernmost point on the entire Australian mainland, and when surfing, hiking, or camping on “the Prom,” Cleft Island silently looms like a haunting skull offshore. To add to the rock’s mysterious allure, it’s believed that only a handful of people have ever set foot on the rock. The cliffs on all sides are dozens of feet high, and an enormous cave the size of a building consumes the center of the rock. For as foreboding as it appears on the surface, however, Skull Rock is a diver’s paradise on the granite walls below. As part of the Anser and Glennie Island groups, Cleft Island is in the middle of Wilson’s Promontory Marine National Park—where colorful sponge gardens, groupers, and seadragons all thrive in the chilly depths. Unless you’re a dedicated diver, however, chances are that Cleft Island will be something you view from afar—whether it’s lounging on sandy Norman Beach and playing in the crashing surf, or enjoying the backcountry bushwalking trails of Victoria’s southern coast.