GREAT OCEAN WALK

Great Ocean Walk
6 Days

6 Days $2170 ex Johanna Beach

Accommodation

5 Nights Cottages

Transportation

Mostly on foot
Transfers along trail included

Included Meals

5 Breakfasts
5 Lunches
5 Dinners

Trip Grade

Category 2
A Balanced Break

Charity

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At 3am on the 4th of August, 1845, the barque “Cataraqui”, found itself and its 409 passengers and crew, 50 kilometers off course after just surviving a storm in Bass Strait. The Captain, thinking he was well north of King Island, decided to enter the Strait. Without any landmarks to confirm his position, the Cataraqui founded on rocks 140 meters off the coast of King Island.

Water quickly filled the hull.

Passengers were flung onto the jagged rocks. Life rafts were smashed to pieces by the relentless waves.

Only 9 of the 409 on board survived.

News of the shipwreck outraged the newly founded city of Melbourne. So much so that not one, but two lighthouses were commissioned to be built, one at Cape Otway and the other at Cape Wickham.

Traversing the Great Ocean Road Walk, you can see how easily this could have happened. Hundreds of kilometers of rugged coastline, pounded relentlessly by the Southern Ocean, the Great Ocean Walk is a journey not only through nature but also history. 

It is no wonder why the coastline on which the Great Ocean Walk follows, is called Shipwreck Coast. Most of these wrecks have been lost to the sea forever. However, several, including the Fiji at Moonlight Head still have small portions of them visible at low tide.

To see them we must consult local tide charts and plan our walking day to coincide with these tides.

Most ships sailed from Europe to Australia in the 19th Century via the Antarctic route. Land was not seen for months and many were off course by the time they reached the coast of Tasmania and Victoria. No wonder so many ran aground, killing thousands.

On day 4 of our Great Ocean Walk, we hike some of the most beautiful coastlines you can imagine. High cliffs, sculpted by the powerful ocean drop over 50 meters down into secluded coves. Our trail for a part of this day skirts the base of these cliffs. On your right is sheer rock and on your left are the relentless waters of the Southern Ocean.

Our lunch spot is a small grassy clearing overlooking this ancient landscape. Fresh rolls, with local cheeses, a little prosciutto if you like, tomato and olive oil, and some lettuce make for a delicious meal, in the fresh open air.

But it’s the second half of the day I love the most. We headed down toward the vast expanse of Johanna Beach. The only obstacle is Johanna Creek which flows wildly at times depending on the previous night’s rainfall. Shoes off and rolled trouser pants is often the attire for the short crossing of the creek.

And then it’s just sandy beach all the way back to Johanna Beach. There is nothing like walking straight back to the place you are staying for the night. Shoes off, a quick shower, or even a beverage or two before dinner. 

A day of fresh air and pure unadulterated nature along the Great Ocean Walk is more than enough to bring a smile to anyone’s face and spirit.

The Journey

Arrive at Johanna Beach and settle in for the night. We stay at the same accommodation for the entire week, so after each day of walking, we come back to a nice hot shower and a home-cooked meal. (D)

Today we commence our walk from Blanket Bay.  The walk follows the coastline with some rocky platforms and spectacular views. At Parker Inlet, we will make the decision whether to follow the inland track or walk along the beach. This decision is subject to tides and weather conditions.  We end our day of walking at the historic Cape Otway Lighthouse. A local historian will explain to us the history of the lighthouse and the coastline we just walked. From the lighthouse, we head back to our accommodation for a delicious meal. In total, we walk approximately 11km today. (B,L,D).

Today we head from the Lighthouse to Aire River. Subject to tide and weather conditions, we may be lucky enough to walk along Station Beach. If not, we follow the inland track and experience amazing views. There will be an option to see Rainbow Falls where a natural spring spills out onto a rocky coastal outcrop below. The day will end at the Aire River estuary. This is a pretty big day of walking, as we cover approximately 12km of coastline. (B,L,D)

The section between Aire River and Johanna Beach via Castle Cove has some of the most spectacular landscapes of the entire trek. The hike along Johanna Beach with its expansive sand is definitely a highlight. It does get tiring on the legs though so we will take it easy and take in the incredible beauty of the place.  Approximately 14km of walking today. (B,L,D)

Today’s walk is affectionately called “The Rollercoaster”. That is because the track is a series of ups and downs. High sea cliffs, expansive views and coastal forests lead to Moonlight Head. It is a great day of walking as we pass Bowker Point, Ryan’s Den Campground and Cape Volney. The Gables themselves are the highest sea cliffs on mainland Australia, providing us with unsurpassed views of this incredibly rugged coastline. Approximately 15km of walking today. (B,L,D).

Our last day on the Great Ocean Walk. We start walking from the Gables and head towards the world-famous 12 Apostles.  We will pass through Wreck Beach where two shipwrecked hulls lay testament to the coastline’s dangerous history.  From Wreck Beach we head to Gellibrand River and wetlands. From there we start to see the impressive 12 Apostles, a site you will never forget. We will walk down Gibson’s Steps which were cut into the limestone cliffs by early explorers and explore the various viewing platforms and boardwalks of the 12 Apostles. Today is a long, 18km of walking, but we are rewarded with a sense of achievement in having completed the Great Ocean Walk. (B, L).

Note: Some people prefer to stay in Halls Gap the night before the trip. If you would like some suggestions for places to stay please let us know.

A Few Important Notes

Private Expeditions: If our dates don’t suit and you have a group of 8 or more we can run this expedition on any date you wish.

Best time to travel? From mid-November to mid-May, however we suggest avoiding the Christmas School Holidays so Christmas until mid-February can be hot and busy.

Includes

  • Experienced walking guides, first-aid trained 
  • 5 nights at Johanna Beach
  • Support vehicle 
  • Park fees 
  • Water and snacks 
  • 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches & 5 Dinners

Excludes

  • Transfers to and from the Great Ocean Walk
  • Beverages
  • Insurance

Englishman George Bass named the limestone stacks along the Great Ocean Walk the Sow and Piglets in 1798, but the name was changed in the 1920s to the Apostles. The name change was probably a marketing decision, made in the hope of drawing tourists along the newly created Great Ocean Road.

However: There were never Twelve Apostles, even in the 1920s. At most there have been eight, until 2005 when another succumbed to the power of the ocean and collapsed into the water, leaving seven stacks.

This is a Fully Guided trek

From start to finish you will have your guide with you. Your guide is very knowledgeable about the trail and will give you updates on the weather, what to wear for the next day, where we will be walking, and what and where we will be having lunch. They are also excellent cooks and will provide you with great meals throughout your trek. 

At certain locations such as Cape Otway, we will use the services of a local guide who will know the history of that location very well.

What is the accommodation like?

On the Great Ocean Road Walk, we stay in one location and drive out to our start point each day. The accommodation is in very comfortable bungalows and homes in the Johanna Beach area. The accommodation location changes depending on the group size and composition, however every place we stay is very comfortable, with a lounge room, twin, double and single rooms, and a kitchen.

We get asked a lot of questions about the Great Ocean Walk. The following are certainly the most common however if you have another question please let us know or the answer may be found in our Trip Notes section.

How hard is the Great Ocean Road Walk trek?

While there are no huge ascents or descents on this trek, the distances traveled and some of the terrain, for example walking on sandy beaches, can make this trip challenging for some people. On the Great Ocean Walk, the trails vary from bush dirt trails to sandy beaches. They are well marked and well maintained. The total distance trekked is approximately 70 kilometers over a 5 day period.

If you are a regular walker or stay fairly fit you should have no trouble with this trek, though you still may have a little joint pain at the end of the day. Nothing a good stretch or a warm shower won’t fix. 

Do I have to carry my own gear?

The only bag you will need to carry is a day pack which will contain your water, your lunch for the day, and any other personal bits and pieces depending on the weather. The remainder of your luggage will stay back at our accommodation in Johanna Beach. 

This has to be one of the most beautiful coastal walks on the planet. Dramatic scenery with the Southern Ocean crashing into the Australian Continent for millennia has created enormous cliffs, hidden inlets and beaches and of course wild seas. The history of this area adds another layer to what I think is a fascinating and beautiful trek.

Peter Miller
Australian Guide

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