Day: 1 Melbourne - Apollo Bay/ Walk Apollo Bay – Shelly Beach 8km walking. 7.30am pick up from the Melbourne Arts Center, St Kilda Road. Transfer to Apollo Bay approx. 3 hours drive and where we stop for lunch and check into our accommodation. After a briefing from your walking leader we’ll head out that afternoon on the first section of the walk. The Great Ocean walk starts from the Apollo Bay visitor’s center and winds out through the town to the beach side suburb of Marengo, named by a passing French explorer. Marengo is home to a colony of Australian fur seals who hang out on rocks in the bay. The walk follows the foreshore as we leave Marengo and enters the Otway forests, eventually coming out at Shelly beach where we end for today and transfer back to Apollo Bay for the evening. That night we’ll enjoy a good meal out on the town and prepare for a big walk the next day. Accommodation: Apollo Bay. Walking distance: approx. 8 km/ 3 - 4 hours walking. Includes: (D).
Day 2: Walk Shelly Beach – Parker Inlet 20.5km walking. The first section of our walk today takes us away from the coast and into the towering forests of mountain ash that characterize this part of the Otway national park. At upto 65m high these are some of the biggest trees in Australia and walking through the heart of the giant forest is a wonderful experience though there are some hills to be negotiated! We rejoin the coast at Blanket bay, an isolated stretch of coast that was one of the original ports for unloading supplies for the Cape Otway light station. The track meanders along the cliff tops and through coastal forests to the quiet haven of Parker’s inlet. Expect to see Black wallabies, Echnida’s, Black Cockatoo’s, Rosella’s and other wildlife along our route. At Parker’s inlet we transfer to our accommodation at Cape Otway. You will be in shared bunk house style accommodation in natural surroundings – a great place to see the resident koalas of Cape Otway. Accommodation: Cape Otway Walking distance: approx. 20.5 km walking/ 6 - 7 hours. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 3: Cape Otway – Johanna Beach 22.5km walking. This morning we start from the Cape Otway light house, which is Australia’s oldest continuously operating lighthouse. We then ascend back up to the escarpment overlooking the beach and walk along a narrow coastal path overlooking Station beach. The path winds through along the cliff tops and then wind sculpted sand dunes before descending to the beautiful Aire River estuary and surrounding wetlands. After stopping for a break at Aire river we continue along the coastal path with stunning coastal views ahead en route to Castle Cove. Located on a spectacular bend of the Great Ocean Road at Glenaire, Castle Cove is a beautiful beach surrounded with towering cliffs which have high archaeological significance, as dinosaur fossils have been found here.
Continuing on from Castle Cove we encounter some of the most spectacular coastal views of the entire walk. The track winds its way along the cliff tops, through heathland and forests, occasionally emerging to give breathtaking and extensive views along the coast. The forest here is an interesting mixture of with grass trees and manna gums. Eventually we emerge onto the broad expanse of Johanna Beach. We finish the day by walking along this beautiful beach which must rate as one of the best in Australia for its views and crashing surf. We transfer back from Johanna Beach to our accommodation at Cape Otway. Accommodation: Cape Otway Walking distance: Approx. 22.5 km walking/ 6-8 hours. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 4: Parker Inlet - Cape Otway 6km walking/ rest day. Today is a relatively relaxing day where we take time to explore Cape Otway at a leisurely pace. This morning we return to Parkers Inlet and join a local Shipwreck Historian who’ll inform us of some of the fascinating and often tragic history of Cape Otway and it’s significance in Australia’s development. We meander along the waters edge following rock shelves and beaches before we ascend the cliffs along the coast to the Cape Otway light house, which is Australia’s oldest continuously operating lighthouse. We take a tour around this historic structure with it’s museum and telegraph station. Remainder of the day can be spent relaxing or enjoying further short walks in the area. Accommodation: Cape Otway. Walking distance: Approx. 6 km walking/ 2-3 hours. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 5: Johanna Beach - Ryan’s Den 14.5km walking. Our afternoon walk is one of the wildest and most challenging sections of the entire track. We From Johanna beach the track rises through rolling hills and farmland as it cuts inland before returning to the coast and one of the walk’s highlights: Milanesia Beach. Isolated, rugged and hidden, Milanesia receives few visitors and is all the more special for it. From here the trail continues along the high sea cliffs to our take out point at Ryan’s Den with breathtaking views all the way back to Cape Otway lighthouse. Accommodation: Princetown. Walking distance: Approx. 18 km walking/ 6-8 hours. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 6: Ryan’s Den – Wreck Beach 14 km walking. We continue through coastal forests that lead us to the evocatively named Moonlight Head and Cape Volney with more breathtaking views to Cape Otway. After Moonlight head the track turns inland and follows an unsealed road several kilometers before returning to the coast. The final highlight of today’s walk is the Gables Lookout, perched on one of the highest sea cliffs in mainland Australia. Groups in September may be lucky enough to see one of the departing Southern right whales which frequent this coast in the winter months. We continue through a grove of Casuarina trees to come out near Wreck Beach where at low tide we can descend and see the anchors of two of the many shipwrecks that lie submerged along this coast ("The Fiji" and the "Marie Gabrielle"). Accommodation: Princetown. Walking distance: Approx. 14 km walking /4-6 hours. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 7: Wreck Beach – 12 Apostles 17 km walking. Our final day on the Great Ocean walk! We continue our walk from Wreck Beach passing the Devil’s Kitchen we follow an old coach road towards Princetown and the Twelve Apostles marine park. The wetlands around Princetown support a wide variety of bird life and we cross the Gellibrand River on a trestle bridge. We are now on the home stretch into Port Campbell national park and the world famous Twelve Apostles soon come into sight. The Great Ocean walk currently finishes by Glen Ample homestead and we’ll have a drink to celebrate our achievement. For those who are keen the last few kilometers can be walked to reach the visitor center at the Twelve Apostles (time permitting). That evening we return to Melbourne, anticipating arriving by 8pm after stopping en route for dinner. Walking distance: Approx. 17 km walking /4-6 hours. Includes: (B), (L).
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