My years as a Park Ranger on the Great Ocean Walk
Welcome to Walk91 I’m Mark Kininmonth and before my wife Nancy and I set up Walk91 in the early 2000s when the walk first opened, I had the privilege of working as a Ranger with Parks Victoria in Apollo Bay.
During this time I was in charge several projects, however the real highlight was working on a new trail Parks Victoria were planning on opening……the Great Ocean Walk!
With a shovel and a few power tools we worked as a team clearing bush, helping the contractors to build this now world renowned trail. The other rangers and I are really proud of how popular the Great Ocean Walk has become over the years and I look back on those days as a real highlight of my time living and working here in Apollo Bay.
Once the walk was complete, Nancy and I created Walk 91 in order to help walkers navigate the logistics of this amazing trail and to offer local support and back up for hikers. We were the first tourism business to offer this service, and are still the only business based in Apollo Bay offering this support.
The history behind the walk
Nancy loves looking up the history and wonderful stories behind the Great Ocean Walk and along the Shipwreck Coast and is constantly looking for new, old and interesting stories to share with our walkers. (She has popped many of these stories into our walking notes, so think of her whilst you are reading them! However we have had to cull them a bit so they are not a hundred pages long!)
Whilst I have come from a tourism background, working in London, Egypt, Central America and on the Barrier Reef (in offices, clam farms and diving sites), Nancy is from a fashion design background. After travelling extensively Nancy worked in production and design rooms in London and China, and has developed a real attention to detail. She takes pleasure in making sure all our walks run seamlessly. (Excuse the pun!)
Working together on the Great Ocean Walk
It has been really rewarding and we have had so much fun offering our ‘Walk91’ service for over 15 years. As a result we have a few good stories to tell too! (One of the best was when an eagle dropped a huge koala on the roof of one of our buses when it tried to get airborne with more than it could chew!)
When the walk first opened to the public in 2005 it was 91 kilometers long (now 104km) and it was wonderful to see the walk eventually extended to end at the iconic 12 Apostles from its previous end point at Glenample. We were blown away when the 12 Apostles kiosk and lookouts were built, along with the Great Ocean Walk underpass and the Glenample viewing platform.
Another highlight was having the privilege of taking part in the filming of ‘The Art Of Walking’ movie, where we got to spend time with the planet walker, John Francis.
John is an environmentalist and truly believes that when it comes to walking “It is the journey and not the destination” that matters.
Our Passion, Our Community
and the Environment
Along with our love of the Great Ocean Walk (we got married at the start of the trail!) we also love our local community of Apollo Bay, our ‘Paradise-by-the-Sea’, and in the last 20 years we have learned so much about the local environment, met some wonderful people and had two children. We have been proud to create jobs for the local community and to support our tremendous local clubs.
Cape Otway Conservation and Ecology Centre
The Cape Otway Conservation and Ecology Centre was founded with the intention of restoring diversity and protecting the unique species which call Cape Otway home. This mission is to “deliver solutions to the most urgent conservation challenges in the Otways region” which includes supporting threatened species such as the Tiger Quoll and Long-nosed Potoroo. We think this is a critically important focus to have within the area that us at Walk91 call home and so for every walker who books, we donate funds towards this cause.
We hope that with the support of our walkers, we can join the Ecology Centre in their goal of protecting the Otways forever as a healthy and resilient environment.
Indigenous Literacy Foundation
Australia’s Indigenous people have an important place in building strong and resilient communities across our country. The Indigenous Literacy Foundation was formed after a desperate need was recognised among remote Indigenous communities for access to literacy education and culturally appropriate stories with a focus on their first language. We have been supporting this cause through donations with every booking we take through Walk91.
“Being able to read opens so many doors. But in very remote Indigenous communities, books are all too scarce and literacy levels are so much lower than anywhere else in Australia. Our purpose is to make a difference to the lives of Indigenous families by not only gifting thousands of new culturally appropriate books – with a focus on early literacy and first language – but also by running programs to inspire the communities to tell and publish their own stories.”
Apollo Bay Football and Netball Club
This not for profit community club plays an important role in our small town, and has done so since even before 1935. It not only helps local kids and adults stay fit, but also helps nurture lasting relationships within the community. Without the financial support of local businesses this club would not be able to function.We are proud to be able to support the friendly and inclusive atmosphere generated within the club.
We appreciate the support and trust every single one of our walker’s place in us when they book one of our walks and we promise that everybody who chooses Walk 91 to assist them on their Great Ocean Walk will take away a special memory from our truly wonderful little piece of Victoria.