6 REASONS WHY ANYONE CAN EXPERIENCE THE GREAT OCEAN WALKby CATHY SABBO
For 100 years, tourists have driven the Great Ocean Road to see some of the world’s most beautiful national parks, beaches, coast, rainforests and hinterland.
But, did you know the Great Ocean Walk has been giving visitors an even more in-depth experience amidst Victoria's stunning natural environment?
Not only does the walk showcase the diversity of the southern coast, it’s where people go for peace and quiet and for health and wellbeing.
Just a couple of hours’ drive from Melbourne, the Great Ocean Walk is one of the most cost-effective ways to escape the daily grind and let nature take care of you.
1. You can choose your own adventure
The Great Ocean Walk starts in the Great Otway National Park at Apollo Bay and finishes at a spectacular clifftop destination within the Port Campbell National Park, overlooking The Twelve Apostles near Port Campbell.
You can complete the entire walk (eight days, covering 100kms) or, depending on your fitness levels, you can choose three, four, five, six, or seven day trips.
Or, if you just want a taste of the walking experience, you can choose from several short ‘loop’ walks of up to three hours each - of varying difficulties.
Just remember, the secret to the best views and most favorable walking gradient is to only walk in the east-west direction.
2. You can set your own pace
If you’ve chosen to walk independently, you can camp along the route, or arrange to stay at local accommodation.
And, if you don’t have camping gear, Hike 2 Camp will set up your camp for you and drop off food.
Tip: always let the nearest Visitor Information Centre, as well as a friend know your itinerary plans before you go.
Click here to book a camp site.
3. There are experts to guide you
Not only do the tour guides have exceptional knowledge of every twist and turn along the walk, you can choose a package where you camp, or retire back at more comfortable lodgings (there's even a 5-star option).
4. You'll see famous locations, plus the lesser known
The Great Ocean Walk has it all: beautiful beaches, rocky beach platforms, clifftops, sand dunes and river estuaries. The landscape is a wild mix of coastal heathland, rainforest gullies and towering hinterland.
Here are some famous landmarks featured on the walk include:
- Moonlight Head (one of the highest cliffs on mainland Australia)
- Castle Cove
You’ll also find these equally impressive natural wonders:
- Marengo Beach and Marengo Reef Marine Sanctuary
- Shelly Beach
- Aire River
5. There's wildlife at every turn
If you love animals, you’ll see lots of them going about their day in their natural habitat whilst you’re on your adventure.
Keep an eye out for water birds, whales and orcas (in winter), rock pool fish and crustaceans, and koalas, kangaroos, echidnas and wallabies.
There are also these wildlife colonies:
- Penguins at the base of the Twelve Apostles viewing area (bring your binoculars at sunset).
- Muttonbird Island near Loch Ard Gorge active between October and April. Birds are best viewed at evening from the viewing platform.
- Seals, which can be seen from Marengo Beach.
Tip: Remember to admire animals from afar and never attempt to feed, touch or move an animal. In warm weather, watch closely for snakes and always stay on the designated track.
6. You'll appreciate the shipwreck history
More than 700 cargo and passenger ships were believed to have been wrecked along the Great Ocean Road, through to the South Australian border.
The Great Ocean Walk gives you an understanding of the tumultuous conditions these ships faced when entering Victorian waters. You can even see the washed up anchors of the Marie Gabrielle and the Fiji ships by descending 366 stairs to Wreck Beach.
Read more about the local industry here.
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