A Complete Guide to the Great Ocean Walk

If you Google the Great Ocean Walk, chances are you’ll be inundated with search results that might not be altogether relevant. That’s why we’ve put together this complete guide to (almost!) everything you’ll need to know if you’re embarking on this hike.

At Walk91, our husband-and-wife team is passionate about all things walking both professionally and personally. Having previously worked as a Ranger with Parks Victoria in Apollo Bay, Mark even helped to build the Great Ocean Walk we know and love today!

Having walked the trail many times over the years, we’re intimately familiar with the pitfalls walkers can encounter as well as the must-do preparations to take before and during the walk. From the weather and essential packing items to landmarks and where to stay, we’ve covered answers to the questions we’re asked most.

While the complete trail might not be possible for you, Walk91 has curated several multi-day walking tours of the Great Ocean Walk so you can select the section you’d like to hike the most. Our self-guided tours include the option to camp or stay in lodgings near to the trail, meaning you can do the walk your way!

So, without further ado, let’s dive into the Great Ocean Walk itself. Don’t forget to drop us a line if you have any questions.

Official Sections of the Great Ocean Walk

Across its 104 km (or 65 miles) length, the Great Ocean Walk is split up into various sections. This means you can opt to do the whole trail from start to finish, or focus on specific areas if you’re strapped for time.

While the Great Ocean Walk is suitable for hikers of varying skill levels, even beginners, the sections do vary in difficulty and length. This is something to keep in mind when planning your trip to ensure you have enough time to complete everything you want to.

From Apollo Bay to Twelve Apostles, the sections of the Great Ocean Walk are listed below with their length and the approximate time it will take to reach each site. There are also plenty of places to camp, as we’ll see.

  • Apollo Bay to Marengo — Approx. 3 km / 1 Hour / Easy
  • Marengo to Elliot Ridge Campsite — Approx. 7 km / 3 Hours / Easy to Medium
  • Elliot Ridge Campsite to Blanket Bay — Approx. 12 km / 4 Hours / Easy
  • Blanket Bay to Cape Otway — Approx. 11 km / 3.5 Hours / Easy to Medium
  • Cape Otway to Aire River — Approx. 10 km / 4 Hours / Medium
  • Aire River to Castle Cove — Approx. 6 km / 2.5 Hours / Medium
  • Castle Cove to Johanna — Approx. 7 km / 2.5 Hours / Medium
  • Johanna to Milanesia — Approx. 4.5 km / 2 Hours / Medium
  • Milanesia to Ryan’s Den — Approx. 9.5 km / 3.5 Hours / Hard
  • Ryan’s Den to Devil’s Kitchen — Approx. 13 km / 5 Hours / Medium to Hard
  • Devil’s Kitchen to Twelve Apostles — Approx. 16 km / 5 Hours / Easy to Medium

At Walk91, our series of self-guided Great Ocean Walk Tours go from start to finish and everywhere in between across all sections of the trail. So, however long you’re planning to hike here, we’re guaranteed to have a trail for you!

If you do decide to join us, don’t forget that we offer prompt drop-offs and pick-ups wherever you are on the trail. Not only that, but we transfer your luggage between accommodations, so all you have to do is meet us there!

Three people standing in front of a van.

Shorter Trails on the Great Ocean Walk

If you only have a few days to explore this beautiful stretch of coastline, here are some recommendations on where to dive in! If there’s a particular place you have in mind that we haven’t mentioned here, Walk91 offers Custom Great Ocean Walk Tour Packages.

Aire River to Twelve Apostles

Why not jump straight into the halfway point of the Great Ocean Walk? If you’re on a time limit, our 3-Day 12 Apostles Self-Guided Walk is a great option that still takes in 60.5 kilometers of this epic trail. 

Starting at Aire River, this route is full of rocky escarpments and coastal views, with a good chunk of beach walking. You’ll want to bring a camera when you reach Twelve Apostles; these rocky landmarks are beautiful come sunrise or sunset.

Day 1: Aire River to Milanesia Gate – 22.5km* or 16km

Day 2: Milanesia Gate to The Gables – 18.5km* or 12km

Day 3: The Gables to Twelve Apostles – 19.5km* or 13.5km

Rock formations stand in the ocean near a rugged coastline with a sandy beach and crashing waves under a cloudy sky.

Apollo Bay to Castle Cove

If you want to start from the beginning of the Great Ocean Walk, check out our 50-kilometer 3-Day Self-Guided Wild Walk. Taking in the rugged parts of the trail, from sweeping views of the Cape Otway region to the beautiful rainforests of Great Otway National Park.

On this trail, you’ll get the best of all landscapes. From the dense wilderness of the rainforest to the fresh sea air along the coast of Blanket Bay. Keep your eyes peeled for black wallabies, king parrots, and echidnas! As always, we’ll be transporting your luggage so you can enjoy the walk unencumbered.  

Day 1: Apollo Bay to Blanket Bay – 22km* or 13.5km

Day 2: Blanket Bay to Cape Otway – 10.5km

Day 3: Cape Otway to Castle Cove – 17.5km* or 11km

When Should You Hike the Great Ocean Walk?

The Great Ocean Walk is located in southeastern Australia and experiences four distinct seasons throughout the year. Each season has its pros and cons depending on your preferences. Victoria’s weather is known for being changeable, so pack a waterproof and some sunscreen whenever you’re visiting!


One of the most popular seasons to hike the trail is Summer (Dec – Feb) when plenty of walkers take to the trail as the temperatures average in the mid-20s and climb to the low 30s in February.  

If you choose to visit at this time of year, come prepared with gear that offers good sun protection as the sand can get quite hot in the summer months. Also be prepared to possibly see a snake or two sleeping in the sunshine.


In autumn (Mar-May), the weather starts cooling down a little. If you’re not a fan of the heat, these months are a perfect time to walk the Great Ocean trail. Easter proves a pretty popular time of the trail, for the team at Walk91 at least! So keep this in mind when booking.

Many hikers love the trail during these months as it’s a perfect balance between the balmy conditions and less rain than winter. Gentle rain showers enhance the experience of visiting Rainbow Falls and the wonderful smells of the rainforest permeate the air.


Unsurprisingly, winter (Jun-Aug) is the coldest season in Victoria. Again, there’s a lot of rainfall in the region and sporadic sunshine. At times, the temperatures may not reach much higher than zero, and, combined with the rain, the trails can get quite muddy.

If you’re up for a more challenging walk and have a lot of experience, winter may be appealing to you! The trails can be pretty lonely in winter, as many prefer to take the easier routes at other points in the year.


If you’d like to avoid the crowds, try visiting the Great Ocean Road in spring (Sept-Nov). While the weather conditions are more variable, trying the trail in spring will reward you with a quieter walk and some surprisingly nice days. Pack a good waterproof and layers, as spring can be damp.

November usually receives the most rainfall, so if you’re planning a hike be aware that you may get soaked! If you’re not a fan of the rain, this month is best avoided. Otherwise, spring has pleasant average temperatures that fall between 20 and 25 degrees. 

Essential Packing Items for Your Great Ocean Walk

Depending on how you hike the Great Ocean Walk, there are a couple of ways to go about packing. If you’re hiking by day and staying in a hotel or campsite by night, having your luggage dropped between locations, or backpacking the whole way, here are some essential items.

Hiking Shoes

While you may not believe us, we have had hikers in the past try to walk the Great Ocean trail barefoot! This puts you at risk of great discomfort and potential insect bites, so we recommend keeping your feet firmly planted in a pair of sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots. 

Ensure you break your chosen footwear in before the journey, to avoid any unpleasant blisters or rubbing. Don’t forget to bring plasters and antiseptic ointment just in case! Also, if you’re planning on visiting the beaches along the trails, pop a pair of thongs in your backpack to reward your tired feet on the sand.

A First Aid Kit

This one’s a no-brainer! While in the 17 years we’ve been operating Walk91, we’ve fortunately never had any serious accidents it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Make sure to carry antibacterial hand gel, bandages, antiseptic ointment, and painkillers.

Other items like a Swiss Army Knife or basic tools like tweezers, scissors, or a small knife are also useful. Finally, depending on the season you visit, we’d recommend taking some antihistamines for itchy bites and insect repellant spray to avoid the nasty stings!  


We can’t stress enough how important it is to carry water on your trail! Even if you’re only walking for a few hours, staying hydrated is key to completing your walk. If you’re hiking in the summer, make sure to carry plenty of water and rehydration tablets to replenish yourself, as there is no drinking water on the track.


While everyone has their own skincare routine, we recommend bringing sunscreen and lathering up each morning before you start hiking. Even if there’s good cloud coverage, your skin will thank you for the extra protection. 

To be super covered in the spring and summer months, don’t forget to bring a hat of your choice — baseball, bucket, wide brim — anything breathable that’ll keep your head covered!


As we mentioned, Victoria is known for its variable weather conditions. While the day may start miserable and rainy, by noon the sun could be shining! As with any hike, we always recommend bringing layers whatever the season.

This is the best way to control your temperature without having to carry bulky sweaters or jackets. At the very least, a waterproof jacket is essential packing.

Means of Communication

If you are hiking alone, especially off-season, we recommend packing a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) or EPIRB (Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon).

Signal is not always guaranteed on the trail, but it’s good to keep your mobile fully charged just in case. Cape Otway has the least coverage on the trail due to the dense forest cover, but a PLB or an EPIRB will keep you connected.

The emergency number is 000. 112 is a secondary emergency number available to dial on mobile phones in Australia.

How to Stay Safe on the Great Ocean Walk

As we touched on in our Essential Packing Items, there are a several ways to prepare for your Great Ocean Walk and stay safe while you hike. In addition to our suggestions, we’re going to talk a little bit about snakes.

If you’re walking in the summer months, you may encounter Tiger or Brown Snakes on the trail. To avoid any bites, it’s important not to walk barefoot in the long grass and, if you do see a snake, give it a wide birth! They’ll leave you alone if you do the same, so stay still and wait for it to move along.

While we’ve never had any walker experience a snake bite in our 17 years at Walk91, so in the rare instance that you do get bitten apply a pressure bandage immediately (with the same pressure you would apply to a sprained ankle) and seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Other tips include staying hydrated and keeping to the trail. The latter is very important as it means you’ll stay on course and not get lost. As we mentioned, signal coverage can be patchy so it’s advisable to stick to the trail.

We also advise carrying a tide timetable and checking the tide patterns if your trail includes walking along Station Beach, Johanna Beach, or Wreck Beach. You don’t want to get caught in a high tide! If you’re uncertain, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. 

For further information check out our blog, 5 Useful Tips & Tricks for Hiking the Great Ocean Walk, or get in touch! We’ve both done the walk many times, so make use of our mistakes and successes and pick our brains. We’d love to share our advice with you.

Rocky shoreline with patches of sand, surrounded by green hills and a distant lighthouse under a cloudy sky. Waves crash on the rocks, and the beach appears isolated and serene.

Landmarks Close to the Great Ocean Walk

Aside from the beautiful flora and fauna and epic skies you’ll see near the Great Ocean Walk, there are several historical landmarks to look out for. How many from the below can you tick off? 

Marriner’s Lookout, Apollo Bay

If you’re looking for an excellent view of the ocean, pristine beach, hinterland, and town, Marriner’s Lookout is a great spot for pictures. It’s also a popular place for hang-gliders! If the conditions are right, you may even see people taking to the skies.

There is a bakery and plenty of restaurants nearby if you want some snacks with a view! The birdwatchers among you will enjoy spotting the superb fairy-wren, the pied currawong, the red wattlebird, and many more feathered friends.

The Redwoods, Otways

You’re in the area and have a ride, you can experience the beauty of the Redwoods. Originally planted by Victorian foresters in 1936, these towering redwoods have thrived away from their native Californian soil. 

Not only do the trees have a mystical quality when you walk beneath them, but their planting reminds visitors of the area’s rich history of timber, potato farming, and its location as an early post-war settlement.

Enjoy walking the trails and taking in the atmosphere in this breathtaking spot. Hopetoun’s Falls are the closest waterfalls to The Redwoods and worth a visit if you have time!

Two people walk on a dirt path through a forest of tall redwood trees and ferns on a cloudy day.

Cape Otway Lighthouse

Built in 1848 to help keep ships safe on this dangerous stretch of Victoria’s coastline, Cape Otway Lighthouse is a great landmark at the halfway point of the Great Ocean Walk. A spot rich in history, this oldest intact lighthouse in Australia also has a cemetery for its old lightkeepers. 

There is also a nearby telegraph station, built in 1859, which is now a visitable attraction. Walkers can take a break to learn about how this revolutionary communications method aided ships heading to land at the Cape.

The Twelve Apostles

An iconic spot on Shipwreck Coast, the Twelve Apostles are the landmark you can’t miss at the end of the Great Ocean Walk. Though the rocks are named after the biblical apostles, there have never actually been 12 limestone stacks, but eight! One collapsed over time, bringing the remaining number to seven.

If you’d like to learn more about this spot, give our Guide to the 12 Apostles. Located near the town of Port Campbell, we give you the lowdown on everything from where to stay near these famous stones to the best place to get a winning photo.

Whale Watching Between Warrnambool, Port Fairy, and Portland

The final landmark to look out for is around the mid-point of the Great Ocean Walk. Between these three coastal towns, you can go on whale-watching tours to see these gentle giants swimming within 100 metres of the shoreline.

If you’d prefer to stay on dry land, there are specially constructed viewing platforms on sand dunes on Logans Beach Road. Free to visit and open year-round, this is the perfect place to catch a glimpse of these entrancing creatures.

Where to Stay on the Great Ocean Walk

Depending on your comfort levels and physical requirements, there are plenty of budget-friendly options to stay at during your hike across the Great Ocean Walk.

We mentioned a couple of camping options above, but Walk91 can also help you find a cozy hotel to unwind in after a long day’s walk. If you’re looking for the best of both worlds, why not check out our 6-Day Self-Guided Great Ocean Walk with three nights camping and two nights accommodation?


While we can’t give you a definitive list of every campsite along the trail, you do have many to choose from depending on your route! Some of our favourites include Blanket Bay Campground, on the eastern side of Cape Otway. It’s situated right on the edge of a sheltered beach which is perfect for a brisk morning swim.

Aire Riveris also a neat little spot with a limited number of spaces, so make sure you book in advance with Parks Victoria. You can choose from the Great Ocean Walk ‘walk-in sites’ or the drive-in sites if you have a caravan.

Another great spot to camp is at Johanna Beach. This wonderful campsite is close to the ocean and the lookout, where you can watch experienced surfers braving the large surf. Make sure you book in advance with Parks Victoria before you arrive to stay at this lovely spot.

Hotel and B&B options

As you’d expect, there are plenty of hotels and bed and breakfasts dotted around the Great Ocean Walk. Many are local businesses and offer spectacular views and charming service. If you’d prefer a comfier bed than a camping mat, get in touch!

Walk91 has a string of local hotels we recommend to walkers of the trail. Don’t forget, we can also ferry your luggage between accommodations whether you’re camping or sleeping within four walls!

That wraps up our complete guide to Great Ocean Walk! If you’re looking for even more information, why not take a look at our All-Purpose Guide to the Great Ocean Walk? Packed with extra nuggets including the best photo opportunities and wildlife sightings, we go even deeper into what to expect from the trail.

If you’re keen to take on the Great Ocean Walk for your 2023 vacation but want some advice from folks who’ve walked it, get in touch! We’re here to help make your hike go as smoothly as possible no matter how much or little you walk.   

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