Welcome to Melbourne! Today will begin bright and early. Once on the bus, you’ll have a chance to meet your fellow travellers and local leader at the travelling ‘Welcome Meeting’ as you make your way to Lorne, your first stop along the spectacular Great Ocean Road, to stretch your legs. From here you’ll continue to Maits Rest, a perfect lunch spot surrounded by an ancient rainforest with giant Myrtle Beech trees. After lunch, you’ll begin your first 11-kilometre walk starting from Blanket Bay. The track meanders along the cliff tops and through coastal forests – expect to see black wallabies, echidnas, black cockatoos, and rosellas. Continue along the beach (tide permitting) to see some of the shipwreck relics in this area until you reach the Cape Otway Lightstation. Built in 1848, it is Australia’s oldest continuously operating lighthouse and marks the entrance to Bass Strait. You’ll be joined by a local shipwreck historian who will share fascinating stories about the Lightstation’s history. You’ll be staying in Apollo Bay, so after checking in to your accommodation you’ll join the group for a welcome dinner at a local restaurant.
After breakfast at a local cafe you’ll begin your 17-kilometre walking day from Cape Otway to Johanna Beach. Walk past the pioneer cemetery and large sand dunes before reaching a narrow coastal path overlooking Station Beach, before descending to the beautiful Aire River estuary and surrounding wetlands. After stopping for a picnic lunch you’ll board the bus for a short drive to the start of your afternoon walk at Castle Cove. Castle Cove is a beautiful beach surrounded by towering cliffs where dinosaur fossils have been found! From here, the track winds its way along the cliff tops, through heathland and forests, occasionally emerging to give breath-taking and extensive views along the coast, before you emerge onto Johanna Beach. Tonight you will have a free night to explore the restaurants of Apollo Bay at your own leisure.
After breakfast at a local cafe you’ll be joined by a local First Nations guide for the start of another 17-kilometre walking day, beginning with an interpretive walk at Milanesia Beach. Isolated, rugged, and hidden, Milanesia Beach receives few visitors and is all the more special for it. From here the trail continues along the high sea cliffs to Ryans Den with breath-taking views all the way back to Cape Otway. After a picnic lunch, you’ll continue through coastal forests that lead to the evocatively named Moonlight Head. From Moonlight Head the track dips down into a valley and ends at The Gables Lookout, perched on one of the highest sea cliffs in mainland Australia. If you’re visiting around September, you may be lucky enough to see one of the departing Southern Right Whales which frequent this coast in the winter months. Tonight, you’ll be staying in Port Campbell and will have dinner at either a local pub or brewery.
This morning after breakfast at a local cafe you’ll set off for your final day of walking – a seven-and-a-half-kilometre walk starting above the bird-filled wetlands around Princetown. From here you’ll walk through to the Gellibrand River Estuary before embarking on the final leg of this journey into Port Campbell National Park, where the world-famous Twelve Apostles come into view. Tides permitting, you’ll descend Gibsons Steps to view two of the Apostles from sea level. Next, you’ll transfer to the Twelve Apostles Visitor Centre before heading to the spectacular Loch Ard Gorge and then back into Port Campbell where you can choose a lunch option that suits you. After lunch, you’ll head back to Melbourne (via a little chocolate treat stop!), arriving at approximately 5 pm when your trip comes to an end.