I am looking forward to travelling the Great Ocean Road again and in particular exploring the vicinity of Port Fairy and Apollo Bay in Victoria, which I last did a few years ago.
Who could visit the Otway Ranges without being tempted to do at least one day walk along the 104 km Great Ocean Walk from near the Twelve Apostles to Apollo Bay?
Well, I did two day walks, each of about 15 km mainly along the coast, firstly from Ryan’s Den to Johanna Beach and, secondly from Cape Otway to Castle Cove; two of the most spectacular parts of the Great Ocean Walk.
The two magnificent day walks I did were both planned using the excellent map:
Great Ocean Walk Map 1:25,000, Datum GDA94 (3rd edition, Parks Victoria, $14.95) available online
and the outstanding guide:
Walking the Otways: Track notes compiled by the Geelong Bushwalking Club Editor Carolina Rose
The 4th Edition may be purchased online from John Chapman or from the club.
Additional information is available from the Great Ocean Walk site and particularly its Resources section.
The GOW campsites I saw were excellent, with shelter sheds, rainwater tanks, platforms for packs and well screened numbered tent sites, which have to be booked in advance.
Ryan’s Den to Johanna Beach (10:30 am – 4:00 pm)
I did this walk in the opposite direction to that advised by Parks Victoria, which in hindsight was a disadvantage, as the signage assumed you were walking the other way and, if I were camping overnight in the GOW campsites, would not have been permitted.
I chose this section because of easy access by car on bitumen roads at both ends, making a car shuttle easy, and its frequency in commercial tours. This leg is about 14 -16 km and takes 4:00 – 5:30 hours depending on which guide you follow and is labelled medium to hard, as it is quite undulating following the coastal cliffs and then inland with a gradual ascent from the sea for several kilometres.
I walked in at about 10.30 am from the Great Ocean Road (GR 980089) following Ryan’s Den Track, to the GOW track (GR983078) and then turned west to the Ryan’s Den GOW campsite where I had a mid morning snack, admired the beautiful coastal views and the well set up campsite before returning to the track intersection at about 12 noon. This loop took about an hour through rainforest, sometimes on muddy tracks but only a few cm deep and is well worth the extra time spent for the great views.
I arrived at Johanna Beach at about 4 pm, averaging about 3 km per hour for the day. My favourite spot was Milanesia Beach where the solitary whitewashed hut against the green hills was one of my best photo shots.
Cape Otway to Castle Cove (8:30 am – 2:00 pm)
I chose this section because of easy access by car on bitumen roads at both ends, making a car shuttle easy, and its frequency in commercial tours.
This is between 12.5 and 16.6 km depending on who you believe and takes from 4:30 to 6:15 hours once again depending on the individual. I took 5:30 hours including breaks and time for photography, but I did keep up a cracking pace between stops. This is largely a coastal cliff walk with spectacular views along the coast in both directions, and especially of the Cape Otway lighthouse.
The Cape Otway cemetery (GR179968) is well worth a visit as it shows how harsh the environment was in the 1800’s, with the graves of shipwrecked sailors and the young children of the lighthouse keepers.
If you wished to cut it short then this would be possible at Aire River which is a little over half way and appears to be a popular fishing spot with easy access by road. Cape Otway to Aire River is 9.6 km, 3:15 hrs
Update: Realignment of Route | Moonlight Head to the Gables
Parks Victoria has realigned the Great Ocean Walk in the Otway Ranges between Moonlight Head and the Gables so that you no longer have to walk on the road, but can stop within the Park.
When I walked the Great Ocean Walk in the Otway Ranges, Victoria, I found it to be one of the least appealing, and so gave it a miss, so I am pleased to hear of this significant improvement.
According to Frank and Katrina from Bimbi Park, the track is graded for easy walking and weaves through woodlands providing shade on warmer days.
If you’ve done the walk using our notes and have any comments please email me.
If you haven’t done the walk, get off the couch organise some friends and go for it…You’ll love it. Please call or email me if you need any assistance in organising your walk.”