Your adventure begins in Melbourne - Narrm in the language of the Wurundjeri people, who are the traditional owners of the land on which Melbourne is now located. Today, meet your group at 8am at a central CBD pick-up location and drive the scenic route to Apollo Bay. Travel through scenic farmland before making your way along the coastline to Apollo Bay through stunning stunted messmate and heath forests. This is Eastern Maar country, and was recently returned to the Traditional Owners in Victoria's first native title in a decade. On arrival, pick up lunch from a local bakery and enjoy it picnic-style at Marengo Beach. Grab any supplies before our first walk of the trip from Apollo Bay to Shelly Beach. We’ll head into the mighty forests of Great Otway National Park where you’ll inhale the scent of eucalyptus as you walk to Shelly Beach. Then, you’ll drive back to Apollo Bay where your accommodation, a warm shower and dinner await – the dream of every hiker!
Fuel up on a hearty breakfast today before embarking on the first big walk of the trip from Shelly Beach to Parker Inlet. Walk through the towering forest of Mountain Ash – a recognisable feature of this section of the Great Otway National Park. The Great Otway National Park stretches from Torquay to the Otway hinterland, along the incredible Great Ocean Road. Keep your eyes peeled for local wildlife like black wallabies, echidnas and black cockatoos here. You’ll traverse a few inland hills before hitting the coast again at Blanket Bay – one of the few safe swimming spots along the walk. Enjoy lunch at the bay then continue on – meandering along stunning cliff tops and through incredible coastal forests to Parker Inlet. Spend some time here to relax after your walk and take in the views of the small cove and sandy beach that’s met by beautiful Australian bush.
This morning, we’ll walk the inland trail, passing towering manna gums as we head toward Cape Otway. As the path sweeps toward the coast once again, you’ll marvel at the turquoise water of Crayfish Bay and catch glimpses of Cape Otway lighthouse in the distance. Prior to the lighthouse being built, thousands of lives were lost along this stretch of coast. Built in 1848, this lighthouse known as ‘the beacon of hope’ is the oldest on mainland Australia. Walk along wind sculpted landscapes of sand dunes, coastal scrubland and magnificent calcified cliffs. Continue through Aire River Valley before ending the day at Castle Cove lookout surrounded by towering cliffs, where you’ll watch as waves crash into shore and perhaps catch a glimpse of whales jumping in the distance.
After breakfast, you’ll enjoy today’s walk through a variety of different landscapes – from cliff tops, through heathlands and forests, occasionally emerging to breathtaking views along the extensive coast. Keep your eyes peeled for Peregrine Falcons today, they’ve been spotted along this section of the trail. And, in spring, you can expect wonderful wildflower displays. Once you reach Johanna Beach, you’ll take in vistas over the sweeping sand dunes and enormous crashing surf – certainly a reward for all of today’s work. Finally, continue on towards Milanesia Track, through rolling hills with wildlife like Eastern Grey Kangaroos.
Today’s hike showcases more spectacular highlights like Milanesia Beach, which is so isolated that it feels like this wildly rugged section of coastline is yours alone, and towering sea cliffs with views back to Cape Otway. From here, we’ll walk through coastal forests and farmland before reaching Ryan’s Den where you’ll soak up breathtaking views all the way back to Cape Otway and west to Cape Volney. Next up, it’s a steep climb to Moonlight Head, a hidden gem on the coastal walk, before you continue to The Gables Lookout which is perched on one of the highest sea cliffs in mainland Australia. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot seabirds and whales from June-September. Enjoy unspoiled views of the Southern Ocean and Great Ocean Road cliffs before making your way back to Apollo Bay for a home-cooked dinner and a little time to put your feet up and relax.
After breakfast today, continue the walk from Gables through to Gibson Steps. After a walking through large stands of casuarina trees, we’ll come out at the aptly named Wreck Beach where the anchors from shipwrecks can still be seen at low tide. We’ll continue along the high tide route to the Devils Kitchen then follow a trail that hugs and meanders along the wild coastal cliffs, nicely protected by beautiful coastal heath, all the way to Princetown. From here, cross the Gellibrand River on a trestle bridge and start to see glimpses of the famous 12 Apostles along the walk through coastal scrub. Originally known as the Sow and Piglets, these iconic limestone formations were renamed The Twelve Apostles as part of a 1920s tourism campaign, despite the fact there were only nine pinnacles. Now there are eight. Today's walk ends just before Gibsons Steps with stunning views from the Shipwreck Coast's Great Ocean Walk Lookout. Head to the unique coastal town of Port Campbell, with a final dinner together at the local hotel with your walking crew and leaders. Put your feet up and relax as you toast to the incredible effort you’ve all made over the last six days on the Great Ocean Walk.
After one final delicious breakfast together, we embark on our final walk from Gibson Steps to the Twelve Apostles visitor Centre – officially marking the end of our Great Ocean Walk. Wander along the windswept boardwalks and viewing platforms and take in the breathtaking views of these natural beauties before the rush of the crowds. Afterwards, head to Loch Ard Gorge – just down the road – for morning tea. The perfect spot for a bite to eat before our route back to Melbourne, the gorge is picturesque with two yellow-washed cliff faces framing the smooth blue water below. Expect to arrive back in the city by late afternoon, where our epic journey together will come to an end.