A natural, historical and cultural wonder, the Great Ocean Walk is an experience of a lifetime. Stretching over 104 kilometres from Apollo Bay to The Twelve Apostles in Victoria, Australia, the walk hugs the coastline and takes hikers through areas that host a wealth of wildlife, stunning landscapes, and monuments to the history of the area.
The whole hike can take 7 days to complete, although some really experienced hikers might do it in as little as 4. But the best thing about the Great Ocean Walk is that you can spend as much or as little time as you like on it – it is rewarding however you choose to enjoy it! And if you want to explore this extraordinary walk with only limited time to spare you could try our Cape Hike Great Ocean Walk 3 Day Hiking Tour.
Whether you plan to do the whole walk, or if you are only tackling a section of it, it doesn’t hurt to get some help. Here are 5 tips and tricks for hiking the Great Ocean Walk!
Plan for the Expected and the Unexpected!
As with any hike, if you are going to pull off the Great Ocean Walk successfully you need to plan for everything! This is a hike that can be done at any time of the year but it is most popular from early spring through to late autumn (September to May). If you choose to walk in the height of summer then be prepared for what can be very hot weather, and in winter a cold wind and plenty of rain is the norm. The weather on this walk is incredibly changeable at any time of year so remember to bring along gear for all types of weather!
Its also really important you plan your walk noting the high tide routes listed on your Great Ocean Walk Map, as well as noting the swell forecast. Easter is a great time to explore the trail as the weather usually perfect for walking at this time of year, but the king tides and large swell can effect your decision making whilst walking. (But don’t worry, we’ve got your back! Walk91 can talk you through this at your private walk briefing on your arrival in Apollo Bay.)
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!
The Great Ocean Walk isn’t an incredibly difficult hike but it can feel longer than expected, and take longer than expected as consecutive days walking can slow you down. With that in mind, it’s good to do some walk training beforehand. And, as with any hike, you want to make sure you bring appropriate gear. Well worn in, good quality hiking boots are a necessity, and make sure you have a first aid kit (with a blister kit handly) as there is nothing worse than walking with blisters! Protective clothing is important, especially a wide brim hat and a long sleeved shirt and wet weather gear is a must. In case of emergencies, you could also consider bringing along an ‘EPIRB’ – emergency position indicationg radio beacon. As another safety precaution, always fill out a trip intentions form before you start your hike, and leave it with someone at home. With the patchy mobile phone signal along the route, this is a must do! If you are walking with Walk91 we will supply an epirb and take note of all your next of kin and medical details, and lend you a Telstra mobile phone if you need one (as Telstra offers the best service on the walk) so don’t worry – we have this covered too!
Stay on Track
One of the great things about the Great Ocean Walk is how easy it is to navigate. It’s a one way walk from east to west so all you really need to do to find your way is to read the clear signage, look out for the yellow arrows and stay on track! Not only will this help you stay safe, but it also ensures the safety and protection of the stunning eco system you’ll be walking through. And, by walking east to west as the Great Ocean Walk was designed to be enjoyed, you will to feel as though you and your fellow walkers are the only ones out exploring this beautiful trail (as most of the time you wont have anyone heading towards you). So, with the landscape protected whilst you meandor along isolated tracks you can truly enjoy the beauty around you, from the hidden sands of Shelly Beach to the panoramic views of the Gables Lookout.
One of the most important things to remember when planning for your Great Ocean Walk is to take re-fillable water containers with you and carry at least 2 litres per person per day, and more in hot weather. The summer months can be hot in Australia and although the cool rainforests do offer some shade, there is a lot of beach walking and the radient heat coming off the sand can be very dehydrating. There are no shops on the walk to purchase food and drink from (apart from the Cape Otway Lighthouse café during opening hours), so it’s paramount that you carry enough water with you.
There is no drinking water on the actual trail itself, although you can of course refill your water bottles at your accommodation. There are rain water tanks on the track in the designated hike-in campsite areas, but depending on the seasons rainfall these tanks can run dry and Parks Victoria do not suggest drinking this water unless it is sterilized. Carrying a water sterilization kit in case you get caught out is a good idea just incase you need to drink from the rainwater tanks, or incase you need to top up your water supply from a natural source.
Book Your Great Ocean Walk Accommodation in Advance
Remember, there is no accommodation on the actual Great Ocean Walk track (unless you are camping of course). Some of the accommodation that is available is close to, or on the borders of the Great Otway National Park, but rooms are limited. Most accommodation is a short car ride from the track so you not only need to book your accommodation before you start your trip, but you also need to book in any private car shuttles or transfers required. Campsites are also limited and need to be booked in advance with Parks Victoria. Don’t just turn up expecting a site as you will be asked to move on by the Park Rangers!
If that sounds like a lot of work, don’t worry as Walk 91 can do it for you! We are here to help everyone enjoy the Great Ocean Walk stress free. So if you would like to do the walk without hauling your luggage along the way, and with guaranteed accommodation and excellent food already built into your experience, you should check out our Customised Great Ocean Walk Small Group Tours. Or if you just want a shuttle, or you need help planning your camping trip, just let us know what you need and we can point you in the right direction. All you have to do is enjoy the hike!
So there you have our 5 tips and tricks for hiking the Great Ocean Walk. However you decide to experience this epic coastline, you will not be disappointed. You are about to witness some of the most beautiful sights Australia has to offer. And if any of Walk 91’s tours piqued your interest, or if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!