A Hiker’s Guide to the Great Ocean Walk

The Great Ocean Walk has become increasingly popular in recent years as more people realise how special it truly is. Walk91’s co-founder Mark Kininmonth was part of the original Parks Victoria team that helped build the Great Ocean Walk, so it’s safe to say that no other private company has more expertise and knowledge of the track.

 Whether you decide to embark on our 3-Day Cape Hike portion of the Great Ocean Walk, our 7-Day complete Great Ocean Walk, or you choose to do the entire trip on your own, we’d like to make planning your trip as easy as possible.

This is your hiking guide to the Great Ocean Walk, looking at options suited to every kind of hiker – from weekend walkers to more experienced hikers.

Can hiking beginners manage the Great Ocean Walk?

You need a certain base level of fitness to walk for several hours each day. That said, we are always available to pick you up if you injure yourself, strain a muscle or feel like you have overestimated your walking ability. 

So, if you are a beginner you are advised to either drop the overall length of the journey or to drop the distance you walk each day if you are worried about your fitness levels. If you’re only doing a portion of the complete Great Ocean Walk you’ll just need to do a little research to find out which sections appeal most to you. However, please keep in mind that none of the sections of the trail involve scrambling up cliff faces, so don’t be scared to try something new if you have not done a walk like this before! 

What happens if I am not fit enough?

We obviously don’t know your fitness level when you arrive to start the Great Ocean Walk with us, but after years of experience helping walkers on the trail, we have a pretty good idea of how long each section takes the average walker. Therefore, after the first day’s walk, we can start to really get a feel of you or your group’s individual walking pace and use this knowledge to alter your shuttle and transfer times if necessary.

If you want to pull out that is fine. However, we can only collect you if there is car access to get into the track, so you cannot ‘instantly’ pull out. So, keep in mind if you are planning your own walk to look at the distances between the access points before you start walking. 

Also, you need to keep in mind that the track is 104kms long, and although walkers can hike in a direct-ish route, skirting the Great Southern Ocean, traffic has to stick to the roads and highways which are not always close to the trail. Therefore, car pick-ups are not instant due to the logistics of the walk!

If I’m not an experienced walker, which walk would suit me?

We highly recommend walking just a small portion of the Great Ocean Walk if you’re a hiking novice, are not particularly fit, and have not done any walk training. However, if you are reasonably fit and feel you would love to give the walk a go, we have our Cape Hike which might suit you (linked above) and our 3-day 12 Apostles Walk; the first is 50.5km and the latter is 58km.

If these walks are not exactly what you are looking for, we can create a personal walking holiday that suits your pace, spanning across as many days as you like.

If you’re in no hurry at all and would love nothing better than to take your time across the entire 104km stretch of the Great Ocean Walk, we can create this walk for you.

We take care of all your accommodation, as well as picking up and dropping your luggage at each day’s accommodation so you don’t have to carry a heavy pack. Just let us know how many days holiday you have up your sleeve to spend on the trail and we will work out your perfect itinerary for you!

The Best Great Ocean Walk Trip for Weekend Hikers

If you love hiking at the weekends and have racked up a fair few miles over the years, then the good news is that all of the Great Ocean Walk is open to you. This epic walking path was designed to showcase the beautiful Victorian coast, not provide a hiking challenge, so while there are some tougher sections, there’s nothing that hiking hobbyists shouldn’t be able to handle.

If you would like to walk longer distances over 3 days, please just let us know and we can work out an itinerary that suits you based on your fitness level. If you do have an extra day and are really fit, you could try and do the whole walk over 4 days. We have even had some fitness enthusiasts run the whole thing this way, but we would really only recommend this for the very fit.

What are my options if I have an average fitness level?

So, what kind of hike do we recommend if you have a bit more time available and have a reasonable fitness level? Well, it totally depends on your preference. If want to do the whole trail, we recommend doing the entire 6-day Great Ocean Walk tour, averaging around 16–17km each day. Or, if you’d like a more relaxed hike, consider our 7-day Complete Great Ocean Walk as the first day and the second day are split into 8km and 14km, so the walking legs are a bit shorter and easier to manage than 22km.

If I want to push myself, what walk would suit me?

If you’re an experienced hiker, then you shouldn’t find anything on the Great Ocean Walk too challenging. The paths and the boardwalks are well-cut and well sign-posted (so perfect for a self-guided walk).

In reality, the Great Ocean Walk is simply not designed to be a hardcore hiker’s challenge and many walkers use this beautiful trail as a training exercise for other harder walks they may be preparing for.

The hardest day’s walk is considered to be Milanesia Gate to The Gables, as this section of the walk has a lot of steps and is quite undulating. 

If you have 5 days, our ‘fit and fast’ walker 5 day self-guided walk is a good choice. It covers the whole walk over 5 days which, once again, we only recommend for the very fit. The walking legs are approximately 16km to 26.5km each day.

The Great Ocean Walk offers some of the best landscapes and seascapes you will have ever seen, so it is really fantastic that you can choose to walk the whole trail in its entirety or just try little tasters of it if that suits you better. No matter what you choose, you’ll get to experience Victorias beautiful legendary walking route whether you push yourself to the limit or just choose to walk some of the shorter ‘hop on and off’ sections.

That’s all we have time for today. It makes us so happy to see this part of Victoria’s stunning coastline get the recognition it deserves and it’s a privilege to help create unforgettable holidays for so many guests each year. If you have any follow-up questions for us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. What are you waiting for? Start planning your next big trip along Australia’s greatest hiking trail!