Accom: Jasper Hotel, Melbourne
Our tour begins at the boutique Jasper Hotel next to the Queen Victoria Markets in Melbourne. Dinner this evening is at a restaurant in nearby Carlton, famous for it's Lygon Street eateries of every culinary kind!
Walk: Marengo Beach to Shelly Beach 5.2km 2 ½ hours Medium/Hard
Trans: Bus from Melbourne
Accom: Cape Otway Lightstation (Shared facilities)
Meals: L (own in Apollo Bay) D
Departure from Southern Cross Station in Spencer St Melbourne City is at 8.30am. Once we arrive in Apollo Bay you can have your choice of cafés to buy lunch before we take the first step on the Great Ocean Walk. Depending on the weather we will initially take the high tide track or walk the intricately patterned rocky shelves. The bus will meet us at Shelly Beach then take us on to our accommodation. This evening there is a tour of the light house before we dine at the Lighthouse Café.
Walk: Full day Shelly Beach to Parker Hill approx 18km Medium/hard
Trans: Shuttle to walk start (approx 30 mins)
Accom: Cape Otway Lightstation
Shelly Beach to Blanket Bay (13km: Medium/hard) From Shelly Beach the track climbs steeply for a short distance up to the Elliot Ridge GOW campsite in the heart of the forest. The tall wet forests dominate this walk along old forestry tracks. From here to Blanket Bay the grades are easy and the track wide so there is a good chance to chat as well keep an eye out for koalas and other wildlife. (You may choose to end the walk here and return to the accommodation.) To Parker River Inlet (5 km: Easy) The track winds through dry coastal forests with views over Parker Inlet. It was near here that the wooden ship ‘Eric the Red’ was smashed to pieces in 15 minutes in the early foggy hours of 4 September 1880.
Walk: Cape Otway to Castle Cove 15.5km Medium
Side trip: Rainbow Falls 2km return
Trans: Shuttle return to accommodation (approx 35 mins)
Accom: Cape Otway Lightstation
Today we walk out from the Lightstation to Castle Cove on the Great Ocean Road. The sandy track first passes through wind-sculpted vegetation hugging the slopes and cliff tops above Station Beach before dropping down the beach. Here we can take the return side trip to Rainbow Falls, a fascinating limestone formation stained with dissolved minerals and hung with thick pelts of moss. The route takes us along Station Beach and then up to the cliff tops again. From the Escarpment Lookout the track drops down through dense vegetation before emerging beside the Aire River estuary. Climbing back up to the escarpment via a GOW campsite the track traverses coastal heathland for the next 5.5km with fabulous views along the coast. Today’s walk ends at Castle Cove on the Great Ocean Road.
Activity: Tree Top walk at the Otway Fly, Triplet Falls Reserve (45min walk), Loch Ard Gorge.
Optional Helicopter Flights (own expense).
Accom: Apostles Motel and Country Retreat
Today we pack up and farewell the Light Keepers house. Our first stop is the Otway Fly where a suspended walk way takes us into the forest canopy. A short distance down the road is Triplet Falls where we’ll have lunch and do the easy circuit walk.
A one hour drive away is Loch Ard Gorge; scene of the Loch Ard disaster of 1878. There were only two survivors from the 54 people on board. The story is told in a series of interpretive panels. It is a sobering yet wildly beautiful place – despite the throngs of visitors.
There is a chance to take a helicopter flight along this section of the coast – it isn’t cheap but it is breathtaking and will definitely give you an unparalleled perspective on this natural wonder. This will be at your own expense (approx $95 + pp depending on length of flight and number of passengers). We should be settled into the Apostles Motel by 5pm.
Walk: Melanesia Beach to Moonlight Head 9.6km Hard. (Many steps)
Trans: Shuttle to Hider Access Rd (Approx. 40mins)
Accom: Apostles Motel and Country Retreat
Today we start by walking the beautiful Melanesia Beach. The geology here is striking and if the tide is low we will be able to take our time exploring the rock pools and enjoying the unique patterns in the cliffs. Between Melanesia Beach and Moonlight Head the walking is hard though the track is well-constructed (with steps in steep parts) through the rough terrain and the last section to Moonlight Head is along an old fishing track. On a clear day, Moonlight Head is a magic spot to just sit and watch ocean.
Walk: Wreck Beach Approx 6km return
Trans: Shuttle to Gables Lookout (approx. 35 mins)
Accom: Apostles Motel and Country Retreat
Meals: BLD (Dinner in Port Campbell)
This is the last section of our Great Ocean Walk. With the tide in our favour and there is ample time to explore the famous Wreck Beach. Here the ocean crashes straight into the massive cliff-line at high tide.
We begin at spectacular Gables Lookout and from here the track contours through moist gullies and over heathland before descending to Wreck Beach where high cliffs of sedimentary limestone tower over the narrow beach. The anchors of two wrecks are stuck fast in the beach rock at the western end of the beach.
In the afternoon we drive a scenic route to Port Campbell, stopping on the way to sample G.O.R.G.E. Chocolates and Apostles Whey Cheeses. There will be enough time in Port Campbell to stroll around the town then we continue along the coast to the beautiful Bay of Islands N.P. We return to Port Campbell in time for our final dinner at Waves Restaurant.
Trans: Bus return to Melbourne
Today we farewell the Great Ocean Walk and the Shipwreck Coast returning to Melbourne via The Princes Highway. Arrival at Melbourne Airport is expected to be by 12.30 pm.
Minimum tour group number is 6, maximum is 10. $2,795 per person twin share. Ex Melbourne.
Sole use of a room is only available at Apostles Motel (3 nights). Sole use charge of $260 applies if you take up this option or if there is no twin share available when bookings are finalised.
Early booking special:
• 7 nights accommodation
• All meals as listed in the itinerary
• Transfers and travel as per daily schedule
• Access to the National Park
• Entry to the Otway Fly Tree Top Walk
• Services of an experienced walking guide and a driver
• Tour information specific to the itinerary including GOW map, notes and packing lists.
The tour cost does not include airfares or other associated travel expenses, costs of joining the tour after it has commenced or leaving before it has finished, travel insurance, personal expenses such as drinks, laundry, or telephone calls.
Teresa Cause Based in Boonah, Teresa founded Horizon Guides Pty Ltd in 2007 to offer a specialised bushwalking guide service. She has a background in outdoor education and extensive experience in guiding tours in Australia and overseas with a particular emphasis on natural history. She is also co-owner of the Far Outdoors store in Boonah.
Bill Forsyth Also from Boonah, Bill has travelled to many far-flung locations and loves wide open spaces. He is driving for us and providing logistical support on tour.
GENERAL TOUR NOTES
Head Light Keepers House Cape Otway Lightstation Located in the historic precinct this house takes you back to a bygone era. There are four rooms with four beds in each. Two shared bathrooms. Meals (except dinner on the first night) will be prepared by your guides in the house kitchen.
Apostle Motel and Country Retreat. (RACV 3 Star Rating) Twin share rooms with private facilities. Bar and restaurant. Hearty country meals.
The focus of this trip is on the walks and the vehicle is primarily the support for this. If you wish to remain behind at the accommodation and rest for a day then you are more than welcome to do so however the vehicle will not be available for sightseeing. You are of course welcome to accompany our driver on shuttles to drop off and collect the walkers.
All meals and snacks are provided except lunch on the first and last days. A selection of teas, coffee and hot chocolate and biscuits will be available after walks.
Every effort will be made to cater for special dietary needs. Bear in mind that many of the special foods that are readily available in the city can be hard to source in the Otway region so please provide full details.
There are no laundry facilities at either of the accommodations so bring sufficient clothing for the tour and a small quantity of soap powder for hand washing.
Pre-dinner drinks and nibbles are included for the stay at Cape Otway. You may of course bring your own preferred beverage. A stop at a bottle shop will be made in Geelong on the way down. Apostles Motel is licensed.
Each evening there will be a briefing on the walk and options for the following day.
Mobile Phone Coverage
There is adequate mobile phone coverage at some places along the walk. Emergency access via 112 is more available.
Distances and track section times
Officially the whole track is 91km in length although there is variability of times and distances noted on the signage and in the literature. The distances given in the daily notes are estimations based on available information. If you walk every step as describe in the itinerary you will cover around 60km. This itinerary takes in the most beautiful parts of the walk and leaves out the road walk sections.
Most of the Great Ocean Walk is graded Easy – Medium. There are some Hard sections. Refer to daily notes for grading on each section. Being a coastal walk, elevation gain and loss is generally moderate over short distances though you can expect some steep sections and steps.
On some sections of the walk there is vehicle access to certain points. For those who don’t feel up to hiking the entire daily section, there may be the opportunity to walk part of the way and have a pick-up arranged.
Toilets / Rubbish
Each of the walk-in sites has composting toilets and in several places we will also walk through public access areas with toilet facilities. All guests will be expected to follow minimal impact principals and briefings will outline these.
The GOW is designed to be undertaken in the East to West direction. This gives all walkers a better opportunity to walk ‘alone’ as there will be less chance of passing walkers.
Tides Inland vs. beach walks
There are a number of places where a decision will have to be made regarding walk the beach or the high road. This will be tide dependent.
There is quite a lot of ‘up and down’ on this walk with steps of stone or timber construction in steep sections.
There are no patrolled beaches on the walk and many beaches have strong currents and rough water. Swimming is not recommended.
Hydration / Water
It is recommended to carry 2 litres of water in 1 litre containers per day. There are a number of creeks and rain water is usually available at the GOW campsites. Your guide will carry water treatment in case you run out of water.
In summer European wasps may be a problem around water sources. Keep water containers capped when not drinking from them. Bring an antihistamine if you have allergies to bees or wasps.
Along the track there are ample snake warnings. In places the narrow track and scrubby bush close on either side makes spotting snakes difficult.
We look forward to sharing the best of the Great Ocean Walk with you!
If you have any further questions or would like to discuss the suitability of these walks for you, then just call 07 54634 114 (office hours) or contact us.
To receive a comprehensive information and reservation package please contact us.