Great Ocean Walk

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Great Ocean Walk

The Great Ocean Walk is situated along Victoria’s South West Coast, Australia. It begins at Apollo Bay and follows the coastline to Twelve Apostles, near Princeton.

Along the 104 kilometre route you will see some great scenery and natural habitats, including magnificent forests, dramatic cliffs, and deserted sandy beaches.

A walk that is suitable for most hikers, the varied terrain has something to offer everyone of average fitness.

You can walk the length in one with overnight stops along the way, or choose specific sections.

Highlights
  • Stunning views
  • Variety of natural habitats
  • Wildlife
  • Coastal History and Heritage
Walk Map
About the route
  • Travel

If you are traveling to Apollo Bay from Melbourne, it is about a 2.5 hour drive.

There are train services, operated by V/Line. These run from Melbourne to Geelong or Warrnambool. There are also train that run to smaller towns and villages nearby.

Bus and coaches are available between the smaller towns and villages in Apollo Bay. Running times vary.

The nearest airport is The Avalon, 145 kilometres away, just outside of Geelong. Domestic flights only.

Tullamarine airport is in Melbourne, and there are both domestic and international flights.

  • Length

The length of the Great Ocean Walk is 104 kilometres.

Most will fit it into 7-8 days or shorter hikes, with overnight camping. However, if you want to explore the local areas, take side trips or have rest days, allow a few extra days.

Most people walk the route from east to west, as this is the most favourable for gradients.

  • Grade and difficulty of the walk

Graded 3/5, the Great Ocean Walk is suitable for most hikers of average ability.

The terrain is easy early on in the trail, but gets more rugged and challenging as you reach Ryan’s Den and beyond.

Some areas of the trail have short but steep inclines and loose surfaces.

Although the way is usually well-marked, the route may not be obvious in places.

It is a good idea to have a map with you just in case, plus you might see other areas that you can visit.

Camping skills are required for this hike if you are staying overnight along the trail.

You will also have to carry your food supplies with you, as chances to restock once you begin your hike are limited. There are some small shops and cafes a little off the route.

Water is available from rainwater tanks located at the campsites, yet it should be boiled or treated before drinking. It is recommended that you carry at least two litres of water with you when you set off for your day’s hike.

  • Experience

The Great Ocean Walk is a great route for people of average fitness and ability. The terrain is easy to moderate, yet there are challenging inclines in places.

Care should be taken if exploring isolated beaches and inlets, as tides can turn quickly and the ocean swell is strong.

It is also advisable to keep an eye on the weather and check the forecasts, as the Southern Ocean can bring in storms and winds.

  • Permits

Permits are required for camping along the route.

  • Guided or Self-Guided

This route is well-marked, and easy to walk self-guided. If you choose a self-guided walk, you will need to carry all your equipment with you from point to point. This is often preferable for experienced, fit hikers.

There are guided walks available for this route, and there are many benefits of taking part.

A guide will be able to show you things about the area you might not have noticed or realised, and teach you about the cultural history of the area. It is also a good opportunity to meet other hikers.

Another benefit of guided walks is than your equipment is transferred for you. All you have to carry are your supplies for the day.

best time to walk

The Great Ocean Walk is al all year round hike. Each season brings its own benefits, challenges and beauty.

The most popular times to hike this trail are during spring and autumn.

In spring, the temperature is warm but not too hot, and much of the plants and flowers are blooming.

In summer, temperatures rise and it can become hot. However, being on the coast, the sea breeze keeps things a little cooler and it is not often that temperatures are too hot for hiking. Make sure you have plenty of water supplies for hiking in summer, and be aware of bushfire danger.

Autumn is a pleasant experience on the Great Ocean Walk. Warm sunshine, autumnal colours, and amazing sunsets are all a feature of autumn hiking on this route.

Winter can be a great time on the trail if you are a seasoned hiker who enjoys battling the elements. Strong winds can blow in from the sea, the temperatures are colder, and there is often plenty of rain.

However, if you like to see nature at its wildest and like a quiet trail, this may be the best time for you!

A typical itinerary would be:

Day 1:
Apollo Bay to Shelly Beach. 9 kilometres

Day 2:
Shelly Beach to Parker Inlet. 20.5 kilometres

Day 3:
Parker Inlet to Aire River. 16.5 kilometres

Day 4:
Aire River to Johanna Beach. 12.5 kilometres

Day 5:
Johanna Beach to Ryan’s Den. 14 kilometres

Day 6:
Ryan’s Den to Devils Kitchen. 14.5 kilometres

Day 7:
Devils Kitchen to Twelve Apostles. 15 kilometres.

Accommodation

Along the Great Ocean Walk, there are campsites at regular intervals. This make it possible to hike the entire length, camping overnight.

However, campsites fill fast so booking in advance is essential to guarantee your spot for the night.

You are required to purchase a camping permit in order to use the campsites, if you are completing the trail with overnight stays.

There are also drive-in campsites at Blanket Bay, Parker Hill, Aire River East and West, and Johanna Beach. These are useful if you only want to partially hike the route in stages.

Distance between campsites:

  • Elliot Ridge – From the Apollo Bay Visitor Centre to Elliot Ridge – 10 kilometres
  • Blanket Bay – Elliot Ridge Campsite to Blanket Bay – 12 kilometres
  • Cape Otway – Blanket Bay Campsite to Cape Otway – 10.5 kilometres
  • Aire River – Cape Otway Campsite to Aire River – 10 kilometres
  • Johanna Beach – Aire River Campsite to Johanna Beach 14 kilometres
  • Ryan’s Den – Johanna Beach Campsite to Ryan’s Den 14 kilometres
  • Devils Kitchen – Ryan’s Den Campsite to Devils Kitchen – 13 kilometres
  • Twelve Apostles – Devils Kitchen Campsite to Twelve Apostles 16 kilometres

Other places to stay include cabins and motels.

Apollo Bay:

  • Apollo Bay Eco YHA
  • Seaview Motel
  • Chris’s Beacon Point

Cape Otway:

  • Cape Otway Ocean Lodge
  • Cape Otway Lightstation
  • Great Ocean Eco Lodge

Bimbi Park:

  • A choice of powered camping, on-site vans, bunk rooms, standard and deluxe cabins.

Aire Valley:

  • Aire Valley Guesthouse
  • The Boomerangs

Moonlight Head:

  • Southern Anchorage Retreat

Princetown:

  • 13th Apostle Hostel
  • Twelve Apostles Motel
  • Twelve Apostles B&B
What to do

The Great Ocean Walk is an area that has a rich cultural heritage and history.

This rugged and wild stretch of coastline is known as ‘the shipwreck coast’, there are relics and other sites of interest to learn about throughout the route.

Many of the beaches and coves are named after wrecked ships.

The Otway Lighthouse was completed in 1848, and it is the oldest surviving lighthouse on the mainland. Built to help protect vessels along this treacherous coast.

Explore some of the Otway National Park, including waterfalls and forests.

There is also a deep Aboriginal history in this area. The original owners of the land were an Aboriginal tribe known as Gadubanud, who were not in contact with European settlers until 1846.

However, tensions caused brutal fighting at the mouth of the River Aire, known today as the Blanket Bay Massacre.

At a glance
Skills RequiredHiking, Walking
Difficulty 3/5
Starts at Apollo Bay VIC 3233, Australia
Finishes at Twelve Apostles, Victoria, Australia
Length of route 104 Km
Average time to complete 7 - 9 Days
Possible to complete sub-sectionsYes
Highest point 726 metres
Permit requiredYes
Equipment neededCamping equipment, Poles if preferred, walking boots
Countries visited Australia