Many people are familiar with the Great Ocean Road but less know that the region is full of reasons to get out of the car and into a pair of hiking boots. On offer are some of the most scenic strolls in Australia!
Whatever your ability or experience level the trails below offer a completely different perspective, far from the roads and people. Explore a great variety of habitats, historical landmarks, Indigenous connections, wildlife and remote beaches and sights you could never see from the road. There’s no better way to reconnect with nature than to lace up your comfy shoes, strap on a backpack and hit one of these great trails.
Starting at Apollo Bay and finishing with a hikers-only view of the Twelve Apostles in Port Campbell, the full 8-day, Grade 4 Great Ocean Walk is one of Victoria’s premier hikes. Hugging the dramatic coastline this epic east-to-west adventure has been labelled a ‘mild to wild’ journey as it’s remoteness and ruggedness increases every step you get closer to the Twelve Apostles. Ignore the sign saying it is a 91 kilometres trek, it is actually now 110km.
Setting out from Apollo Bay to Shelly Beach you will pass a marine sanctuary and fur seal colony before heading inland through a forest of giant mountain ash. Blanket Bay and Parker Inlet will welcome you back to the coast with Cape Otway Lighthouse guiding the way. Pass over high sand hills with views of the Aire River and descend to the Johanna Beach tracks below. Wander past rolling farmland and grazing kangaroos before the dirt track will lead you to the magnificent Melanesia Beach and the old fisherman’s hut tucked in the dunes. Continue along the high trail for stunning views from Ryan’s Den and Gables Lookout before dropping down to the infamous Wreck Beach — home to the anchor remains of the Marie Gabrielle and Fiji Wrecks.
If low tide allows continue the coastline to the Gellibrand River and the small outpost of Princetown where you will get your first glimpses of the Twelve Apostles in the distance. The route rollercoasters on to a highlight of the Gibson’s Steps, then finally walkers arrived at the Twelve Apostles Visitor Centre and the iconic limestone structures themselves! The reward is well worth the effort — don’t forget to use the road underpass to visit the numerous Apostles viewing platforms.
Rugged explorers wanting to tackle the ‘wild side’ of the Great Ocean Walk can pre-book at the seven hike-in campsites and those who like creature comforts can book shuttle services between their car and accommodation. 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.
Those looking to do the Great Ocean Walk in luxury can book a guided multi-day tour where everything is taken care with Twelve Apostles Lodge Walk. 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 Walk keep winning tourism awards!
The Surf Coast Walk offers a stunning 44km journey of natural beauty, charming coastal villages, abundant wildlife and inspiring landscapes. Set out from the Torquay, the start of the Great Ocean Road through the living landscapes of Anglesea and Airey’s Inlet to the wild shores of Fairhaven. Stroll the iconic Bells Beach and soaring cliffs of Anglesea making sure to enjoy a few refreshing pit-stops along the way. Marvel at the marine and national parks, beach comb the uncrowded beaches and let the lighthouse be your guide to Airey’s Inlet. Relish the awe-inspiring lookouts, you might even spot whales in winter!
The great thing about the Surf Coast Walk is that it doesn’t have to be done in on go. It can be split into 12 unique trails, each with a distinct start and end, usually located at a carpark.
Starting and finishing in Portland the grade 4, 250km walk loops through the Cobboboonee Forest to the beautiful banks of the Glenelg River. Walkers meander through the quiet fishing town of Nelson before traversing the spectacular dunes to the long, deserted shores of Discovery Bay.
Explore the transitions of the four magnificent contrasting environments — the glorious high forest, one of the most beautiful rivers in creation, wild stormy beaches and the towering cliffs near Portland. You’ll pass blowholes, the Petrified Forrest and seal colonies before the trail leads you to the breathtaking Bridgewater Bay and the historic Cape Nelson lighthouse before returning you to Portland.
Beginners and intrepid travelers alike love this epic loop self-guided trail. Challenge yourself with the full 13-day trek or tackle multi-day, full day or half day walks. Campgrounds are dotted along the trail or for hikers that like their walks pack free, a local friendly shuttle service can transfer you to and from your Portland or Nelson accommodation or car.
The beauty of Great South West Walk is there there’s a bushwalking trail to suit most ages and abilities. It may look wild but the 2 hours loop walks, full-day hikes and a 250km loop trek with campsites along the way make it accessible for beginners to the most intrepid travelers.
Whatever trail you choose, hiking is always a Great Call on the Great Ocean Road.
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Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Great Ocean Road region the Wadawurrung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging. We recognise and respect their unique cultural heritage and the connection to their traditional lands. We commit to building genuine and lasting partnerships that recognise, embrace and support the spirit of reconciliation, working towards self-determination, equity of outcomes and an equal voice for Australia’s first people.