– APRIL 07-12, 2015
The Great Ocean Walk is a walking trail located on Victoria’s south-west coast in Australia. It is a one-way long-distance walk extending east to west, just over 100km. The ending point is the iconic and famous Twelve Apostles near Princetown. This spectacular walk weaves its way through national parks full of tall forests, coastal heathlands, wild rocky shores, river estuaries, windswept cliff-tops presenting amazing views where nature unfolds at every step.
Wildlife that can easily be spotted on this walk are: Kangaroo, Koala, Snakes, Leeches, Birds, Cats and a hundred different types of ants. You are walking on mostly well-manicured trails throughout this long multi-day hike.
We were dropped off at Cape Otway to start this hike. It’s 9.6km to walk from Cape Otway to Aire River, where we planned to set up camp for the night.
Close to the starting point was a small historic graveyard. Not much info was posted regarding this site, so we took a look at the gravestones and then went back on the path to Aire River.
This was our first walk and we started off with a ton of energy to make some great time. About 75% of the way through this day walk we realized that we should have paced ourselves better from the start to maintain our energy till the day’s end.
The walking path changes in width and material in various sections.
This was not a safe beach to go swimming…check out the waves below.
The view of Aire River was a welcome sign that our campsite was close.
It wasn’t a flat walk by any means. We had some large elevation changes both up and down. The elevation change was noted by the walking path material change.
We then hiked from Aire River to Johanna Beach for our next section. It’s 12.4km to walk this section of the hike to Johanna Beach, where we planned to set up camp for the night.
The parkland is suffering from infections of cinnamon fungus. Areas that are affected have boot scrubbing stations and gates to ensure hikers don’t trample the fungus into unaffected areas. Some sections also have elevated wood paths to help with this problem.
Some grassy plants in the parkland will sprout a long vertical shoot when they catch fire. This sprout only comes when the heat of a fire burns the grassy shoots, which is quite unique.
When hiking the Johanna Beach trail you have to judge the low-tide and high-tide conditions to cross the beach section of this area. We just happened to hit the high-tide time of the afternoon, but as you see below it wasn’t anything like what we had been told to expect.
Yet only one hour earlier, other hikers claimed they had a very large section of water to cross and had to remove their shoes for it. Strange.
We then hiked from Johanna Beach to Ryan’s Den for our next section. It’s 13.8km to walk this section of the hike to Ryan’s Den, where we planned to set up camp for the night.
We then hiked from Ryan’s Den to Devil’s Kitchen for our next section. It’s 14.8km to walk this section of the hike to Devil’s Kitchen, where we planned to set up camp for the night.
The Devil’s Kitchen hike portion takes you down to Wreck Beach. A couple of shipwrecks just off this beach have been symbolized by rusted anchor statues. This beach had the same low-tide and high-tide conditions to watch out for, but this time it was very real. We had to hustle to make it across this beach before the tide hit the rock wall and fully covered the beach.
See in the image below that the tide is reaching the back of the beach at this point.
First view of the anchors for the Marie Gabrielle and the Fiji shipwrecks.
Selfie time from the anchor.
There was a collapse in the rock cliff years ago that resulted in the large boulder obstacles that hikers need to maneuver over.
After Wreck Beach we elevated back above the cliffs to find the campground.
The bathroom at the Devil’s Kitchen campground has what we were told is the “best bathroom in all of Australia”. See the image below for the view from this throne.
We then hiked from Devil’s Kitchen to Princetown for our next section. It’s 8km to walk this section of the hike to Princetown, where we planned to set up camp for the night.
The walk to Princetown was the easiest walk of them all. The roads were much more level and it was the shortest portion yet at only 8km. Some people keep walking the next 8 km in one stretch (16km total) to reach the Twelve Apostles, but we decided to break it up into two separate days of final hiking.
There was a regular campground just before Princetown, but this wasn’t our stop.
Princetown was a slight offshoot via a bridge and boardwalk.
We then hiked from Princetown to the Twelve Apostles for our final section. It’s another 8km to walk to finish this hike to the Twelve Apostles, where we planned to set up camp for the night.
The next morning we got up at 4:30am so we could hike to the Twelve Apostles before sunrise. We made it there with time to spare, so we walked around the area to choose the best spots for pictures. We started off with the selfie below.
The light bounced off the clouds to make a rainbow out over the ocean. As the sun slowly rose, the rainbow moved closer and closer to the Twelve Apostles limestone rock formations. You can’t actually see all twelve from any one point. Actually, five of the stacks have fallen into the ocean to only leave 7 stacks remaining.
It was a long hike with some long days, but we finally finished it. It was a cool sight, but if anyone reading this doesn’t truly want to commit to a multi-day hike adventure with heavy packs and tough terrain, then rent a car and drive to the Twelve Apostles for your visit. No shame in driving if you aren’t the hiking/camping type.
If you want to do the complete journey then I recommend it.
For more photos of our adventure go to our flickr account here.