A Complete Guide To Australia's Great Ocean Walk

A Complete Guide To The Great Ocean Walk


It’s been described as “outstanding”, “the best walk ever” and something to put on your bucket list. The Great Ocean Walk is definitely one of Victoria’s highlights and it’s enjoyed by many of our guests.

This spectacular walk is over 100kms long. It begins at Apollo Bay and ends at the iconic Twelve Apostles. Walkers will find themselves passing through ever changing scenery, from wild beaches to gnarly forests to spectacular clifftops and coastal heath. You’ll probably have a few encounters with the native wildlife, and you’ll certainly see some of the best of Australia!

If you’re thinking of hiking this fabulous trail yourself, here’s everything you need to know.

BEFORE YOU GO – HOW TO PREPARE

  • First of all, decide if you’d like to hike the entire length of the Great Ocean Walk (remembering it’s over 100kms) or just a section of it. Either option is perfectly possible! If you’re walking the whole length you’ll need to allow 5 to 7 days.
  • Decide when you’d like to walk. Summer (Dec-Feb) is the most popular time of year, but you will need to pre-book your accommodation well in advance as it can be busy. Many people believe that Autumn (Mar-May) is the best time of year as the weather is stable, there are often spectacular sunsets, and fewer crowds. Alternatively you might like to consider walking during the Spring when the wildflowers are blooming – don’t forget your camera!
  • Decide what type of accommodation you’d like and pre-book it. There are a lot of options, ranging from campsites to cabins to luxury private accommodation at Alkina Lodge. Our guests often tell us that nothing quite beats a huge bathtub, a roaring fireplace, a designer kitchen and a comfortable bed at the end of a day’s hiking.
  • Make sure your hiking boots are well worn in and you are feeling fit and healthy. This is not a casual stroll in the bush and a general level of fitness is required. There will be some long walks and there are hills – but we promise it’s all worth it!
  • Pack for all weathers regardless of what season you’re travelling in. Our coastline can be very exposed in places and the weather can be very changeable. You’ll need warm clothing, layers, waterproofs, good walking boots, sunhat and sunscreen. You know that old saying: there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing? Pack the right gear and you’ll enjoy it no matter what the weather!
  • There is no fresh drinking water available along the Great Ocean Walk. Make sure you come prepared with water bottles and 2-3 litres per day. If you’re camping, there’ll be water tanks but these only hold untreated rainwater, so you’ll need water purification tablets.  Alternatively if you stay at Alkina Lodge you will be able to re-fill your water bottles each day. Our water is filtered and UV treated, and we think it’s the best water you can get!
  • There are no shops on the track itself, and you do not walk through any towns, so make sure you come prepared with enough food. You will pass by Cape Otway Lighthouse on one day, and there’s a café here which sells coffee and sandwiches. Alternatively if you’re staying at Alkina Lodge,  it’s easy to self-cater or we can prepare a packed lunch for you.
  • Before you go, make sure you download the Great Ocean Walk Audio App for your smartphone. This contains stories about the history and nature along the walk and will really help bring the region alive for you.

 

ON THE WALK

  • If you’re staying at Alkina Lodge and would like to hike just a short section of the track, we recommend the Princetown to Twelve Apostles section. It’s easily the most iconic, must-do section and it’s well within the capability of the average walker. We often say it’s like hiking into Machu Picchu but much easier! We also offer a complimentary drop off service to Princetown, to make things easier for you.
  • The walk is very well signed. Stick to the tracks.
  • Don’t try accessing beaches or rocky platforms without checking the tide times and considering the ocean swell, waves and weather conditions.
  • The region is a high bushfire risk area, and there is no safe place where you could shelter during a bushfire. So make sure you’re aware of any fire danger ratings.
  • Be aware of where you put your hands and feet and don’t walk barefoot in long grass. There are snakes in the area.
  • The walk passes through ever changing scenery, from wild beaches to gnarly forests to spectacular clifftops and coastal heath. You’ll be walking across sand, grass, paved and rocky tracks. It’s truly beautiful so don’t forget your camera!
  • The native wildlife you might encounter will almost certainly be one of your highlights. The GOW passes through the habitats of kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, parrots, sea eagles, echidnas, dolphins, whales – and even snakes.

HOW TO BOOK

  • The trail is very well marked and mapped, so it’s possible to do the Great Ocean Walk independently without a guide. There are GOW booklets available for purchase at the Apollo Bay Information Centre and the Port Campbell Visitor Information Centre. These contain all you need to know including maps, estimated times, difficulties, and information on river crossings and tides.
  • Alternatively, go with a guided walk company such as Life’s An Adventure.  This fabulous company offer a fully inclusive package where you will enjoy the benefits of all the food, a guide and driver, and accommodation at Alkina Lodge. It’s just perfect for a little bit of indulgence at the end of a long day’s hiking!
  • The other option is to choose to stay in just one place and hike independently, doing short sections of the walk as day trips. Alkina Lodge offers luxury accommodation and the ability to self-cater. We’re perfectly set up to accomodate couples, families or groups, and we’re always happy to help you with a packed lunch, or drop you off on the track itself. Our manager, who is an experienced guide on the Great Ocean Walk, can also help plan your itinerary and point out the highlights of each day.

Ready to book? Click here to contact us!

Great Ocean Walk
Great Ocean Walk