Must-stop places on the Great Ocean Walk

The Great Ocean Walk offers total immersion in the dramatic landscapes of coastal Victoria. Witness your surroundings merge from forests to beaches to rocky cliffs, and enjoy the close company of wildlife and sea spray.

At Walk 91, we have loved and explored this route since we first helped to create it. We have designed ways for all travelers to access the walk, and to understand the order of this blog, we recommend you check out the itinerary of our 6-day whole Great Ocean Walk.

Part of the joy of the route is that you are continuously surrounded by beauty, and it really can be hard to choose a place to stop. However, as all walkers know, stopping to appreciate the surroundings is a great way to pace yourself and here we have come up with our absolute favorites.

Another good reason to stop is to catch sight of some of the wonderful creatures living along the route; sometimes it takes a little while for the eye to catch the outline of a humpback whale, or the ear to pick up the rustle of leaves around a nearby koala.

Humans have lived alongside these creatures for more than 120,000 years; according to the dating of fire charred stones and shell pits at Moyjil, a little further up the coast than the 12 Apostles. So you walk in the steps of many others!

If reading this blog gets you excited, please get in touch with us at Walk 91. We can offer for personalised advice on all of our Great Ocean Walk Tours, or for information about any of the ways we can support walkers in the area. 

1) Parker Inlet and Eric the Red

Our first ‘spot’ is actually a recommendation to walk slowly, taking some time to pause along a fascinating route from the Parker Inlet towards Crayfish Bay. The first reason is that you may catch a glimpse of the Eric the Red shipwreck.

The second is that as the vegetation becomes more forested, it is one of the best places for spotting koalas. Look up at the Eucalyptus Viminalis trees (known as manna gum) which you can recognize by its smooth bark shed in long ribbons or white flowers from December to May.

Manna gums are a favorite tree for koalas as they enjoy eating the leaves and living on the branches. If you are slow and quiet, you might also spot an echidna; the spiky, egg-laying mammals who feed on insects and larvae in the woody undergrowth.

2) Cape Otway Lighthouse

For a boost to the heart rate, take a walk up the 150-year-old lighthouse, likely responsible for saving thousands of lives. Get an insight into what it might have been like to live as a lighthouse keeper and enjoy incredible views out to sea.

A little way from the lighthouse is a Talking Hut, built by Richard Collopy, where you can explore Aboriginal artifacts and listen to a talk by guides about local stories and knowledge of the land and its traditional produce.

Local food sources included Grasstrees. In an exceptional example of ecological eating, the white tender leaves, seeds, and roots were eaten, while the growing point was left to preserve the plant. 

Another useful plant was the Cherry Ballart, for its sweet, juicy, springtime fruit that doubled as a cure for snake bites. Also in Spring, look out for the purple and yellow Flax Lilies, whose leaves were boiled as tea.

3) Rainbow Falls

This spectacular waterfall involves a 30-45 minute walk from Station Beach. If the light is right, you can spot the full rainbow color spectrum in the water spray. This is more likely from March to November; in summer the falls are less impressive.

The other thing that has to be right is the tides; you should not attempt to visit Rainbow Falls at high tide. Getting the tides right is very important for many of the sights listed in this blog, and we recommend you plan your walk carefully or take advantage of our Great Ocean Walk trip-planning team.

4) Aire River

We recommend this as a picnic spot; a beautiful river teaming with wildlife. Look out for kookaburras, koalas and echidnas. In the evening, you might also see possums and kangaroos.

Appreciating this landscape comes at a great historical cost, however. As you may have learned at the Talking Hut, this location was the site of a massacre of the local Gadubanud community by settlers.

5) Milanesia Beach

This is an absolutely gorgeous stretch of white sand; it is a lovely place for a picnic, a swim, or for enjoying the sunset. Although famous for its beauty, it is also known for being one of the most secluded beaches in the area.

Apart from the sea and sand, pay attention to the incredible rock formations that surround the bay. The geology of the area is really fascinating; read our guide to the geology of the Great Ocean Walk to understand the fantastic shapes of the coastline. 

6) Gables Lookout

This viewing point is perched above some of the tallest coastal cliffs in Australia. Enjoy a spectacular panorama of the Southern Ocean, and scour the horizon for the shapes of whales.

7) Wreck Beach

Dropping back down to the shoreline, spot the two great anchors rising out of the sand which mark the last stopping place of two ships: the Figi and the Marie Gabrielle. Read about the sobering history of Great Ocean Road shipwrecks.

The beach is only accessible to walkers, and you can continue to enjoy the peace and seclusion that this brings. Keep your eyes peeled in the area for kangaroos and wallabies.

8) The 12 Apostles

These are the infamous collection of limestone stacks; naturally formed rock formations that started life 20 million years ago as cliffs. They then became caves, then arches, and while there may not be twelve stacks today, coastal erosion may change this in the future.

There are many vantage points for appreciating these silent giants. Walk down the Gibson Steps for an incrementally shifting view or head to the 12 Apostles viewing platform. Did you know that these rocks were originally named ‘Sow and Piglets’ before gaining their slightly more glamorous title in 1922?

At Walk 91 we have a wide range of walks suited for different time commitments and fitness levels. We would love to hear from you so get in touch if you have any questions about these must-stop places, or anything else about walking in this stunning part of the world.