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iPhone Navigation and Map Viewer App Review | Bit Map 3 by Nixanz

Do you want to be able to view your hard copy or digital topo bushwalking maps on a high resolution, user-friendly, portable viewer? Want to know where you are on your map, even when outside your mobile’s reception area? Want to carry one less device with you while on your bushwalks?

I always have a second look when I see an iPhone app with a local flavour and Bit Map by Nixanz meets this requirement. The developer, Nik Sands, is also a Mac enthusiast which automatically makes him a friend of mine, keen bushwalker, Bushwalk Australia forum administrator/founder, and has produced some useful applications for the Mac which makes this iPhone app especially worth checking out. His OZF viewer  is a great free application for viewing map files with the OziExplorer (.ozf2) suffix.

Bit Map iPhone App

In the past, I have used software such as MacGPS Pro (see my review of the latest version) to view topographic maps which I have scanned, stitched together and loaded into my mapping software. I have plotted routes and waypoints using MacGPS Pro and then uploaded these to my small GPS (Garmin Geko 201), which has shown the route clearly but lacks the background detail, such as contours and features, shown in a topo map. I have found that being able to zoom a laptop screen image to place a waypoint or find the coordinates is much easier than struggling on the original topo map with a magnifying lens as I once used to do. I have often tracked my route with my GPS and downloaded it on my return to MacGPS Pro to view exactly where I had walked.

Niche Market

The developer Nik Sands designed this iPhone app to meet a need for Australian bushwalkers which was not being met by existing devices and software.

Bit Map fills a niche market for bushwalkers who need to view Australian 1:25K or 50K  topographic maps in colour and wish to have the benefits of a user friendly, portable map viewer which can view the maps offline, without the need for mobile reception or a wifi connection. The iPhone with its large, high resolution colour screen (version 4’s retina display shows 4 times as much map without loss of image quality as the iPhone 3), large storage capacity for maps and user-friendly touch screen, makes all this possible. This app’s primary task is to convert your iPhone into a high resolution map viewer and is not designed to replace your dedicated GPS, although for many people it will be more than adequate. It has many of the basic  GPS’s features you would expect such as giving the grid references of your location, speed and allowing you to enter waypoints and upload routes.

Maps

Bit Map Screenshot

Unlike expensive proprietary maps which need to be purchased, such as the vector maps of Garmin, and then uploaded into a matching GPS, Bit Map works with bitmapped or raster images which can be user-supplied and produced in a variety of traditional graphic formats such as JPEG, PNG, TIFF, GIFF and even PDF.  In addition, Bit Map  can import OziExplorer maps (OZF2) which are pre-optimised,and are highly regarded in Australia. Maps need to be supplied by the user as there are none built-in, except for a bundled map of the world.

Optimisation

Once converted into a supported digital format, maps need to be optimised for use in the iPhone and this can be done within the iPhone or on a desktop computer using third party software, which is the preferred option, and Nik has supplied some software for this purpose. Pre-optimisation saves lengthy load times as the iPhone doesn’t need to do as much processing.

“When you first download a map to your iPhone, Bit Map will automatically split it into small chunks that are easier for the iPhone to handle and will compress each chunk to reduce the amount of storage space used. While viewing the map, each chunk will be seamlessly loaded when it comes into view on screen.” (From developers website)

Optimisation stores the maps as JPEGs at 50% quality to save storage space, which will of course result in a small loss of quality.

Maps can be downloaded directly using the built-in web browser if you have wifi access or a large data plan.

In Map View, the UTM zone and grid reference of the current location overlay the map along with the latitude and longitude for the WGS84 datum, and the estimated recent and average speeds.  The grid reference defaults to the WGS84 datum if there is no current map datum available.

Calibration

“There are two methods of calibrating map files:

The fully manual preparation method requires you to determine and define the region of the Earth covered by each map yourself, and to rename each image file using a strict format to define each map’s area.

The .map method uses OziExplorer-compatible “.map” files to automatically determine the area covered by each map, but is only available to OziExplorer users, or people who’ve obtained maps with associated “.map” files in OziExplorer format.If the image is not pre-calibrated (eg ECW, GeoTIFF) then it will need to be done manually by clicking a few known points and adding their coordinates.” (From developers website)

Installation of Map Files and KML, KMZ files

“Maps (converted and calibrated as detailed above) and KML files can both be loaded into Bit Map on an iOS device (iPhone or iPad) using much the same process.  There are three different ways for Bit Map to load maps and KML files.  Choose whichever of these methods suits your circumstances the best:

   1. Using iTunes’ file sharing over USB.  This is by far the fastest (by several orders of magnitude) and easiest method if you are able to physically connect the device to a computer running iTunes which also has your map or KML/KMZ files on it.
   2. Uploading files via WiFi from your desktop/laptop to Bit Map, directing the web browser on your Desktop/Laptop to the URL that Bit Map displays in its acquisition view.  While in the acquisition view, Bit Map will run its own built-in web server ready to receive files from web browsers on the local network (NB:  The desktop/laptop uploading the files must be on the same local network as the iPhone running Bit Map, and Bit Map must be displaying it’s acquisition view for this to work).
   3. Downloading files from a web server somewhere on the internet (or on your local network) using URLs that you enter into Bit Map itself. This means that you first need to upload your prepared map image files to a web server. Any computer can act as a web server, so long as it is configured correctly. If you don’t already have upload access to a web server, you may be able to set up your desktop/laptop as a temporary web server.”(From developers website)

GPS Functions

Bit Map screen shot

“Bit Map can record and store several routes (series of waypoints).  Waypoints can be named, and several routes can be displayed on the map simultaneously.  Routes can also be sent to or received from your desktop computer as KML files which can be read by a variety of other applications, including Google Earth.” (From developers website)

Unlike MacGPS Pro it can’t show profiles, nor load some of the more unusual formats available. It overcomes some of these limitations by allowing the import of .kml and .kmz data already prepared on a desktop computer using software such as MacGPS Pro and the export of any such files generated by email.

Bit Map uses the iPhone’s built-in GPS to show your current location on your map and also has the ability to “follow” your location if you are mobile, by centralising the map on the screen as you move, loading new maps as required.

“While in ‘Follow’ mode, sleep is disabled (only while connected to a power source) and the map is continually scrolled to centre on your current location”. (From developers website)

As with many iPhone apps that use the GPS, there is a potential for your battery to drain quickly. (See my recent post “How to Keep your iPhone Charged in the Outdoors“)

Browse the developers website for more Bit Map information.

Bit Map Settings Screenshot

Conclusions

The iphone with Bit Map installed will never match my 17″ MacBook Pro with MacGPS Pro installed for ease of viewing, profiling and entry of waypoints and routes, nor will it match a dedicated GPS for battery life or robustness, although there are solutions to both these problems. Hopefully you will not need to use your iPhone in heavy rain or when wearing gloves.

It does however provide a compact and mobile map viewer with a limited set of GPS features which will suit many people who don’t need the full range of GPS features and in the past have relied upon large laminated paper maps. For some it will mean their GPS will no longer need to be carried on a bushwalk as their phone will do both tasks.

Congratulations Nik on a job well done!
 

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Navigation Software Release: MacGPS Pro (Version 9)

Do you own an Apple Mac? Want some outstanding mapping/navigation software that is fully supported by a Mac enthusiast? Want to be able to view EWC maps such as those provided free of charge by GeoScience Australia (250K) and stitch them?

I have just updated to version 9. (Update: Version 9.2 was released in November) I have been using MacGPS Pro for almost 20 years and can highly recommend it as the best mapping and navigation software for Mac owners. The developer, Dr James Lawrence, continues to take a personal interest in this software which continues to grow in capabilities and user interface. New features are added regularly and the developer is receptive to new ideas such as inclusion of ECW  and the import of some OziExplorer format maps for Australians.

Attribution: The text below is taken from the MacGPS Pro website with minor modifications to make it more relevant for Australians.

Features of MacGPS Pro™ navigation software


Link your Mac with GPS receivers. Whether it’s a daylong hike, 4×4 excursion, geocaching quest, ski trip or sailing voyage — you’ll always know where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re going.

  •  Flexibility: Support of open-standard format maps, aerial photos and charts, scan-your-own maps, as well as our own maps and charts.
  •  Real-Time: Connect to NMEA 0183 from Serial port, Bluetooth, and USGlobalSat USB receivers. View your position on a wide variety of moving digital topo maps and marine charts on a Mac.
  • Waypoints, Routes, and Tracks: Create and edit. Use on the Mac. Transfer to and from many Garmin and Magellan receivers. 

New features for version 9.0:

  • Edit Track Points. Split and Join Tracks.
  • Hide individual Waypoints, Routes & Tracks.
  • Color Waypoint Icons match Newest Receivers.
  • Auto-Open, Margin Removal, Map Stitching, Find, and Guide Maps for NOAA charts, New Zealand, Chatham Islands and Australia Topos.
  • Map Stitching for EWC maps & BSB charts.
  • Revised Help & Alert Messages. New Shortcuts.

For Australia and New Zealand:

  • Geoscience Australia 250K topo maps: remove map margin, stitch together, auto-open, find by latitude and longitude, map name, or click on provided guide map.
  • Land Information New Zealand 50K and 250K topo maps: remove map margin, stitch together, auto-open, find by latitude and longitude, map name, or click on provided guide map.
  • Chatham Islands: Transverse Mercator 2000 map projection and grid coverage.

Other must-have features that make MacGPS Pro navigation software one-of-a-kind.

  • Works with many types of maps—even those you scan in yourself—in the most popular file formats, including GeoTIFF, JPEG, PDF, ECW and BSB. For full List
  • For optimum resolution and seamless map stitching, we recommend our MacTopos Maps series. MacGPS Pro is also an excellent viewer for USGS Digital Raster Graphic topo maps, NOS/GEO and BSB versions 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 charts, FAA flight sectionals, and many other digital maps.
  • Digital maps come in two different types. Raster maps are a scanned or photographed image of a paper map. This is the type of map that MacGPS Pro uses. Vector map files contain a mathematical description of the lines and areas that make up the map. MacGPS Pro does not support maps in vector format. Garmin “*.IMG” files are vector maps.
  • Maps and charts in raster-image formats such as TIF, PNG, JPG, GIF, PDF, BSB, and ECW can be imported into MacGPS Pro. These images will be automatically georeferenced if they are in GeoTIFF format, in ECW format, in GeoPDF format, in BSB format, or if they are accompanied by a “world” file, a “*.IMP” file (a CompeGPS calibration file), a “*.JPR” file (a Fugawi calibration format) or a “*.MAP” file (an OziExplorer calibration file). OziExplorer OZF2 image files are not supported.
  • Maps may be purchased, obtained by downloading them from the Internet, or by scanning them yourself. Maps can be calibrated and used on your Macintosh screen with or without a GPS receiver connected. USGS, TVA and Teale (California) DRG maps, DOQQs, and many other maps from diverse sources are automatically calibrated. Maps that do not contain calibration information can be manually calibrated with ease by clicking on a few known points. Check our Digital Map Library to help find maps for your area.
  • Please note that MacGPS Pro does not upload maps to any GPS receiver; the maps are used on the Macintosh screen.
  • Seamlessly stitches maps and charts together for USA, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand topo maps, and world-wide BSB-format marine charts. How It Works
  • If you have a map file already open in MacGPS Pro and open another map file with the same map projection and standard coordinates, then both maps will appear in the Map Window. Under the View menu, check “Remove Map Margins” so the margin of one map does not cover part of the adjacent map. With the margins removed, the two adjacent maps will automatically appear stitched together.
  • Calculates your speed and travel direction based on track log locations and times.
  • Capable of handling up to 65,000 waypoints, 250,000 track points, and 50 routes with 300 waypoints on each route.
  • Graphically edit waypoints, routes and tracks. Split or join track log segments.
  •  Link photos, websites or any other files to GPS waypoints.
  • Hide individual Waypoints, Routes and Tracks.
  • Optional large real-time position display makes for easy viewing at a distance or a quick glance.
  • Save GPS data as editable, tab-delimited text files for exchange with spreadsheets such as Excel, database software like Filemaker, and text-editing applications like BBEdit.
  • Elevation feature allows you to plot the altitude profile for track logs and routes.
  • Almost anything can be used as a map. Just scan it, save it as a TIFF or JPEG file, and georeference it with a few known points. Full Instructions

      Follow these instructions for importing your own scanned maps:
         1. Scan in any paper map.
         2. Save the scanned image as a TIFF, PNG or JPEG file.
         3. From the File menu, choose “Import…” and select your file.
         4. The software prompts you to enter map data, including projection and datum. (This is typically found along most outer margins of a printed map.)
         5. The scanned image is then displayed in the map window.
         6. Click on a known point and enter its latitude and longitude. (Refer to the MacGPS Pro Help menu).
         7. Repeat with at least one other known point (four points is ideal).
         8. Click “Done”.
         9. Your map is now georeferenced and ready to use.

  • Coordinate conversions to-and-from 123 user-selectable datums and 25 map projections plus user-defined datums and grids to support maps for a broad range of countries. Full List
  • For Australians:  Australian Geod ’66    Australian Geod ’84    GDA94     WGS 84
  • Sky chart shows current and projected Global Positioning System satellite overhead positions at any specific location and time.
  •  Includes Maptech® World Marine chart and NASA Blue Marble World Topo Map.
  • For those new to GPS, MacGPS Pro includes its own easy-to-follow, comprehensive illustrated tutorial in its Help menu.

For more information visit the MacGPS Pro website

Bushwalk Leadership Training | How to Change a Club’s Training Culture

How do you change the Club culture? How do you encourage leaders to improve their skills? Should leaders be required to under take some training each year to retain their leadership “accreditation”?  What sort of training would be appropriate?

It would be rather presumptuous of me to suggest that there is only one answer to this complex problem, which has troubled many a Club’s Training and Safety Officer. Any solution will however need to recognise that this will be a significant change for many Club members and hence to be successful will involve proven change-management techniques.

No doubt any possible solution will include at least some of the following:

  • recognition by Club members that the Club’s leadership skills need to be improved.
  • belief in the need for training by the Club Committee, followed by adequate consultation to design the program and then promotion by prominent Committee members.
  • commencement with a small and carefully selected program which will be acceptable to leaders and can be successfully completed by all
  • involvement of respected “elders” in the Club, both as instructors and participants
  • recognition of those who have participated in, and provided, the training
  • awareness raising by having one of the participants outline what they learned at a Club meeting or newsletter

An annual accreditation requirement could be used to encourage  participation in leadership training, but this needs to be delicately handled to avoid putting “experienced” leaders offside. Leaders could be expected to gain a minimum of 10 points per year  (equivalent to 6 hrs training) to retain their leadership “credentials”.

Some non-threatening examples could be:

  • Senior First Aid Refresher  (10 pts)
  • GPS use (2 pts)
  • PLB use (2 pts)
  • Pre-trip planning ( 2-5 pts)
  • Stove types, use and maintenance (2 pts)
  • Dehydrator use and menus (2 pts)
  • Navigation refresher ( 5-10 points)
  • Ultra-lightweight backpacking ( 2 pts)
  • Lightweight cooking and menus ( 2-5 pts)

For those who want some more theoretical training

The accreditation requirement (10 pts)  should be incorporated into an annual  Leadership Training Weekend, with topics being rotated from year to year.

To make the process less threatening, some of this training could be carried out by “expert” Club mentors during Club walks or on a one-to-one basis. It should be possible in each Club to establish a list of “go-to” people who would be willing to make themselves available for specific skills training. Leaders who were prepared to give training sessions for other leaders could be credited with double the number of points that a participant would gain.

Some Clubs have a policy of subsidizing leaders who attend accredited training courses, if they are willing to pass on the knowledge and skills they have learnt. This not only encourages participation in training in a positive way but shows that the Club values training and this is an important step in changing a Club culture which is less than enthusiastic about the importance of training.

View other relevant posts in this Bushwalk Leadership Series

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Bushwalk Leadership Training | The Need for a Change in Club Culture

Which skills do Club bushwalk leaders sometimes lack? Why is there often a Club “anti-training” culture?

Over the years I have walked with many different bushwalk leaders and from each I have learnt new bushwalking skills. Sometimes I have noticed contradictions, but there is rarely the opportunity to question and if there is, it is sometimes difficult not to offend, appear to challenge the status quo or appear critical.

Formal bushwalk training, undertaken through organisations such as Bushwalking Leadership SA, actually encourages and expects participants to ask questions. The presenters welcome people challenging their ideas and because of their active involvement in leadership training are aware of differences in techniques and are able to offer alternatives, based on their own experience and that of others.

In my experience, many Club leaders sometimes have limited skills in group management and don’t see there is any need to develop them. They often believe that they are leading a group of peers who are able to look after themselves. They fail to recognise that most Club walks have new members who need to be made welcome and integrated into the group if they are to remain Club members. They fail to recognise that often walks have “dependents”, who despite their maturity, are inexperienced in terms of bushwalking skills and need to be actively “supported”. They often fail to accept, that as the “leader”, their personal needs become subservient to the group as a whole.

Have you ever walked in a group where the leader is at the front, sometimes a long way in front, and is oblivious to the needs of the unfit “newbies” struggling at the back, with their overweight packs? If they are aware, have they offered to redistribute equipment so the group as a whole can make more rapid progress? Have you often worried, as “tail-end-charlie”, which way the group has gone at the intersection and wondered why the leader didn’t wait until everyone had arrived before moving off. Have you ever arrived last at a group break and found that instead of the 10 minutes everyone else got, that you got just 3 mins?

Have you ever watched an inexperienced or unskilled leader waiting for the group to assemble at the predetermined start time? How do they treat the “new member” who has failed to allocate sufficient time in the morning to get gear packed, have breakfast and attend to personal hygiene? Do they offer to help personally, assign someone who is already packed to help or do they stand there impatiently and then make comments about the “regrettable” late start?

Risk management skills are often intuitive among bushwalk leaders. They have often learnt over many years, usually by trial-and-error, what dangers there are in particular locations and at particular times of the year. This works fine provided they don’t venture outside of their “known world”, but do they have the knowledge and skills to cope if the circumstances fall outside their personal experience?

Some Club bushwalk leaders would see any attempt to encourage them to attend training courses as a criticism of their leadership credentials and therefore a personal attack. Some are blissfully unaware of the potential risks of their leadership style while others would see their attendance at a training course as an admission that they have something still to learn and a reflection on their status as a “Club elder”.

Fortunately, there are many others who see their bushwalking “careers” as a continual learning experience, who are open to new ideas and are aware of their role and obligations as bushwalk leaders.

The task is to convince the less enthusiastic  leaders that there are still things to learn which will make Club walks more enjoyable for everyone.

Visit other relevant posts in this Bushwalk Leadership Series

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Bushwalk Leadership Training | Is it necessary?

Do bushwalk leaders need training from qualified instructors? Can you learn on-the-job?  Will formal leadership training spoil the informality of Club walks?

First of all, I have to admit that I need no convincing of the benefits of skill training for the outdoors.  I have always believed that training from qualified and experienced practitioners is the best and quickest way to develop skills and confidence in the outdoors. Whenever I have wanted to broaden my outdoor skills,  seeking qualified instructors has always been my first step, and I have then applied this training in my own environment and refined it to suit my personality and goals.

The argument about whether young adults should be taught to drive by their parents or by a qualified driving instructor is similar in my view to how you should learn a new outdoor skill? When I decided to get a small  bus licence a few years ago, my employer paid for some lessons and this taught me that parents are not the best instructors for a learner-driver to have. I soon found that I had developed lots of bad habits over the many years since I first sat for my own driving test, some of which would have been sufficiently serious to fail me in my bus driving test, if not corrected. What if I had tried to teach my own children to drive? Would I have passed on my bad habits to them?

Learning-on-the-job is often the best way to learn, but only if the mentor has kept up-to-date with recent advances and has broad experience outside the Club. Many Clubs have a leadership structure where “leaders-in-training” are assessed and coached by experience Club members, almost all of whom have had no formal training and most of whom, have learnt from other “senior” Club members, who in turn have learnt from other “senior” Club members. There is a real risk that bad habits are passed from one generation of Club members to the next and that this “in-breeding” becomes a Club tradition.

Some Clubs are openly antagonistic to ideas from outside which threaten the status quo and challenge the Club’s way of doing things. Sadly I can recall many years ago, when I was about to attend my first Club walk, being warned never to mention I had any formal bushwalking training.

In many Clubs things have not changed.

Formal leadership and skills training should not spoil the informality of Club walks, rather it should improve the enjoyment and safety of all.

Visit other relevant posts in this Bushwalk Leadership Series

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Are the Adventure Activity Standards (AAS) Relevant to Bushwalking Clubs?

Are the Adventure Activity Standards (AAS) relevant to bushwalking Clubs? What are the benefits of adopting the AAS for bushwalking Clubs? What changes would need to be made to Club organisation to do so? Are their legal implications if AAS were adopted? How do the AAS mesh with Club risk management?

“The Adventure Activity Standards (AAS) are voluntary guidelines for undertaking potentially risky activities in a manner designed to promote:

  1. Safety for both participants and providers,
  2. Protection for providers against legal liability claims and criminal penalties, and
  3. Assistance in obtaining insurance cover.

These AAS are NOT statutory standards imposed by law.” (Recreation SA, Bushwalking AAS 2006)

What could be more relevant than that to a bushwalking Club?

Two key statements appear in the AAS:

 “The AAS ……reflects minimal acceptable standards of behaviour expected when planning and undertaking outdoor adventure activities with inexperienced and dependent participants.”

This statement  makes it clear that the AAS are minimal standards which all Clubs should already have adopted when leaders are taking inexperienced walkers and therefore dependent walkers, on Club walks. Dependent does not mean school age, it means having to rely upon others for their safety and well being. In most Club walks there are dependents, whose safety is sometimes ignored by leaders, simply because the leader thinks that as adults they are responsible for their own safety.  The AAS makes it clear that this is not the case.

“Regardless of the extent to which the AAS is adopted, each organisation, guide and leader has a duty of care to its participants to have completed a risk analysis of the activity, and developed a risk management approach to address potential and unexpected situations.”  (Recreation SA, Bushwalking AAS 2006)

Many Clubs don’t take this seriously, with few leaders skilled in making a risk analysis for a bushwalk and even less having the necessary experience to anticipate risks. Pre-walk documentation is often sadly lacking and there is sometimes little vetting of this documentation where it is provided.

Benefits of AAS

I believe adoption of the AAS by Clubs will provide a framework and focus for upgrading the skills of  leaders, which will in turn make walks more enjoyable and safer for participants. The AAS have a focus on risk management and hopefully this will provide the impetus for each Club to develop their own risk management policies.

Each AAS has been developed in the following key areas:

    * Planning
    * Responsibility of the leaders
    * Equipment
    * Environment.

Changes Needed.

To adopt the AAS, your Club will probably need to do some of the following:

  • fine tune your Club walks (group size, leader; assistant: participant ratios, communication)
  • both broaden and deepen your training, both external and internal, to meet the needs of any proposed  leadership structure that you decide to adopt (eg first aid, clothing, group equipment, environment)
  • document the informal procedures your leaders already follow and do very well (eg activity plan, pre-trip documentation, risk management, emergency strategy)
  • more formally and transparently map your leaders and participants skills and experience with the walks they are allowed to lead and partake (eg restrict participation, devise a participation grid)
  • better inform participants of their obligations (eg voluntary assumption of risk,  inherent risks)
  • review the legal implications of your Club’s Constitution and Mission statement (duty to warn, waivers)

Legal Implications

If you can show that you have a transparent and public process to approve leaders and participants for walks based on their skill level and experience, then current advice is that you should be safe from legal claims and penalties.

Are the AAS a liability?  Read more from an alternative viewpoint

To download the relevant Adventure Activity Standards (AAS) click on one of the links below

NSW  AAS
Victorian AAS
Western Australian AAS
South Australian AAS
Queensland AAS
Tasmania AAS

For a less positive viewpoint on the value of the Adventure Activity Standards visit the Adventure Victoria website

Visit other relevant posts in this Bushwalk Leadership Series

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Great Ocean Walk, Victoria

Just come back from traveling the Great Ocean Road and in particular exploring the vicinity of Port Fairy and Apollo Bay in Victoria.

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.

Have a look at my slideshow

The two magnificent day walks I did were both planned using the excellent map:

Great Ocean Walk Map 1:25,000, Datum GDA94 (1st edition 2010, Parks Victoria, $14.95)

and the outstanding guide:

Walking the Otways: Track notes compiled by the Geelong Bushwalking Club Editor Carolina Rose  3rd Edition Geelong Bushwalking Club 2001

which may be purchased from:

The Editor
“Walking the Otways”
c/- Geelong Bushwalking Club Inc
PO Box 675
GEELONG VIC 3220

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 labeled 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

More to follow…..

Related postings

Great Ocean Walk, Victoria | Realignment of Route | Moonlight Head to the Gables

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