Walk the iconic coastline of the Great Ocean Road in a long weekend.
THE GREAT OCEAN WALK IS ONE OF THE MOST SCENIC HIKES IN THE WORLD.
Starting at Apollo Bay and finishing with a hikers-only view of the Twelve Apostles, the full 8-day Great Ocean Walk is over 90 kilometres long. But walkers of nearly any ability can make their own once-in-a-lifetime adventure - tackling shorter ½ day walks, day walks, overnight walks or multi-day trips.
Rugged explorers wanting to tackle the ‘wild side’ of the Great Ocean Walk can pre-book at the seven hike-in campsites, those who like creature comforts can book shuttle services between their car and accommodation and for those looking to do it in style (like we did)… they can book a guided multi-day tour where everything is taken care of. The only job to do is to put one foot in front of the other!
TWELVE APOSTLES LODGE – 3 DAY WALK (LONG WEEKEND)
The Twelve Apostles Lodge Walk is a luxurious way to tackle the Great Ocean Walk. My friend Sarah and I signed up for a long weekend, 3-day adventure.
The team take care of everything, all you have to do is pack your hiking boots and an adventurous spirit! The knowledgeable staff guide you every step of the way, carry all the extras and point out natural features along the walk. A gourmet, nutritional lunch will be packed for you to power you through your days before you return to your private cabana at the architecturally designed eco-lodge. Foot spas, a crackling communal fire and chef prepared gourmet meals complemented by local wines and beers will be awaiting your return. No wonder the Twelve Apostles Lodge keep winning tourism awards!
DAY 1: MELBOURNE CDB TO CASTLE COVE TO JOHANNA BEACH (3h walk)
This tour is so luxurious you don’t even have to drive! The team pick you up from the Melbourne CDB and before you know it you’re enjoying your lodge welcome morning tea at the walk briefing. Then lace up the boots and grab your supplied day pack, your Great Ocean Walk is about to begin at Castle Cove.
The wild waves of the Southern Ocean will rise to meet you as you arrive. This epic view will be your constant companion for the next 3 days. But it isn’t just a Great ‘Ocean’ Walk, you’ll also be awed by the towering ancient forest as you enter the 104-million-year-old Dinosaur Cove. You can’t help but imagine what one roamed here.
Next up, the deserted sands of windswept Johanna Beach. Beautifully raw and untamed. The lodge team will be waiting with a cool drink to greet you, so kick off the boots and walk barefoot while admiring the relentless waves of the ferocious Shipwreck Coast. It’s a view you could admire for hours but don’t forget that the foot spa and gourmet meal are waiting for you at the lodge!
DAY 2: MOONLIGHT HEAD TO PRINCETOWN (6.5h walk)
After Day 1 you can see how this walk earns the title of ‘Great’. But the name only describes a part of it. On Day 2 you will see more ocean views and sandy beaches but will also hike the rolling hills of historic old farmland, explore shipwreck remains, wander through aromatic tea tree bushland, traverse creek crossings, be towered over by uniquely Australian giant eucalypt forests, wade in tea tree lakes and maybe get your first glimpse of the Apostles. From a window of a car you’d have no idea they were even there!
We were dropped off at our starting point, Moonlight Head. You do need to be reasonably fit for this section of the track, it can be a little difficult as it winds its way downward through coastal shrub and tea tree forests to a newer section of the walk - The Gables Lookout. You’ll definitely want to get your camera out here. The Gables is one of the highest clifftop viewpoints in the country - a great spot to watch for whales in the winter.
We were headed to Wreck Beach, famous for...you guessed it, its many shipwrecks. The suspense builds as you make your way down the 500+ stairs catching glimpses of the wild ocean that claimed so many of these ships - the most famous of which is the Fiji (1891).
You’ll find its anchor and the lost pieces of other shipwrecks when you reach the deserted sands below. Wreck Beach brings out the explorer in all of us, discover the clear blue rock pools, climb the scattered boulders, admire the sandstone cliffs towering above and pay tribute at the shipwreck memorial. Keep an eye out for the tides too, it’s a long way up to take the cliff track.
As you walk the final leg of the day you’ll notice how the rock formations change from sandstone to limestone, it looks like you’re walking on a moonscape! When you spot the winding path of the Gellibrand River you have officially entered Port Campbell National Park and then it’s an easy downhill stroll to the cooling tea tree lake swim and glass of champagne that will be waiting. After 17km, you earned it!
DAY 3: PRINCETOWN TO THE TWELVE APOSTLES (3h walk)
Day 3 will leave you on a high, literally! Not only will you walk your way down to the mighty Twelve Apostles (7 are still standing), you will fly high above them on a 15-minute helicopter flight.
Day 3 delivers a show stopping start. You’ll start where you left off on the tranquil shores of the Gellibrand River in Princetown then after a 30-minute stroll you will get your first view of the Twelve Apostles. They will constantly reappear to motivate you as you walk the rollercoaster of the trail through rolling hillsides, home to a mob of resident kangaroos.
You know you’ve finally made it to the end of the Great Ocean Walk when you reach the exclusive viewing platform. You’ll be rewarded with a hikers-only view of 12 Apostles. Sit back and enjoy that well-earned vista… or if you still want more, descend the 80 stairs of the Gibson Steps to the beach below. You can feel for yourself just how big these 73m limestone structures are as they tower above you.
As the finale before returning to Melbourne, tower above the Apostles for yourself on a 15-minute helicopter ride. You’ll not only admire the iconic rugged coastline but also how far you have come on this unforgettable journey.
WATCH THE EPISODE:
Sit back and relax, The 12 Apostles Lodge Walk will do the driving for you picking you up and dropping you off at a Melbourne CDB location.
TOP 5 THINGS THAT MADE THE WEEKEND GREAT:
- Earning the hikers-only view of the Twelve Apostles
- Discovering shipwreck remains on Wreck Beach
- Returning every afternoon to the luxury accommodation of the Twelve Apostles Eco Lodge
- The helicopter flight over the Twelve Apostles
- Walking through an ancient rain forest that dinosaurs roamed
I have driven the Great Ocean Road a thousand times but on the Great Ocean Walk you’ll discover so many great things that are impossible to see through a car window.
THE NEXT GREAT WEEKEND:
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