The Great Ocean Road is justifiably renowned as one of the world’s great coastal drives. But only on foot do you become part of the drama and begin to understand why the Great Ocean Walk (GOW) is a big-name in bushwalking Victoria and Australia. Only at walking pace can you fully appreciate the difference between balmy summer calm and wintry wildness on Victoria’s dangerously beautiful “Shipwreck Coast”.
Reaching 96km west from Apollo Bay to the much-photographed Twelve Apostles limestone stacks, the step-on step-off GOW traverses Great Otway National Park (and some private land). It is divided into 14 legs from 3.2-13km along beaches and cliff lines, through coastal heathland and eucalypt forest. Several legs traverse beaches and rock shelves that become impassable in extreme conditions; alternative inland routes exist at all but four of these designated “decision points.” Track design makes it accessible to day walkers, overnight adventurers and end-to-enders (8-10 days).
There are seven GOW campsites (bookings essential) and four additional vehicle-accessible camping areas. There are guesthouses and B&Bs within walking distance of the trail and hosts of others will often pick-up and drop-off.
Ample parking space allows for car shuffles and shuttle/taxi services. You could, however, leave the planning to others and join a guided or self-guided accommodated walking holiday. I recommend Twelve Apostles Lodge Walk and Auswalk.