The Great Ocean Walk offers some really wonderful campsites along the trail, so if staying in accommodation over 7 days close to the trail is not for you, camping is a great alternative. Below is some information on camping in the Otways which may help you plan your trip.
Booking campsites on the Great Ocean Walk
The Great Ocean Walk is planned around its hike-in campsites, with an additional step on and step off points along its route for car access. However there are group campsites and drive in campsites. Whichever sites you choose to you on your visit, you must book in advance with Parks Victoria. This is to make sure you secure your camping spot and are not disappointed on arrival. Park Rangers will come and check you have booked so bring proof of your booking with you.
Water in the campsite areas
Water is supplied by rainwater tanks which offer untreated water. Parks Victoria recommends that you do not drink this water and you either bring your own water with you (Apollo Bay town water is fine to drink) or you bring along water purification tablets. We have found that in spring the tanks are full but depending on the rainfall they can be empty by January/February. Therefore in an extremely dry year, there may not actually be any water to purify, so carrying at least 2 liters of water a day (provided by yourself in advance of your walk ) is highly recommended.
We would also suggest ringing Parks Victoria if you are planning a self-sufficient hike to check the levels of the water tanks before you embark on your hike.
If you are walking with us at Walk 91 and camping, we leave large containers of water in our trailer that you can access (we give you a key code). If you’re staying at accommodation organised by us, or have chosen to camp for a few days and stay in accommodation for 2 nights you will be able to refill your water bottles at the accommodation.
Remember, Australian weather can be extremely hot and dry in the summer months, so plan for your walk and do not attempt to walk the track without a sufficient water supply.
Car access to the hike in campsites
Please note that there is no car access to the ‘hike-in’ campsites. We plan our camping itinerary around where the best campsites are and where we can drop off our trailer for you to access your camping gear, food and water. For example you cannot access Eliot Ridge campsite so Shelly Beach carpark is the closest access point, and you cannot access Ryans Den or Devils Kitchen campsites by car.
Walking legs for camping on the Great Ocean Walk
The camping spots for the Great Ocean Walk and ‘hike-in’ campground segments are:
Apollo Bay to Elliot Ridge Campground 10km
Elliot Ridge to Blanket Bay 12km
Blanket Bay to Cape Otway 11km
Cape Otway to Aire River 10km
Aire River to Johanna Beach 14km
Johanna Beach to Ryans Den 14km
Ryans Den to Devils Kitchen 13km
Devils Kitchen to Twelve Apostles Car Park 16km
The total distance to the campsites is 100km on the official Parks Victoria Map but once you have visited the lookouts and Rainbow Falls you walk approx 104km.
Buying the offical Great Ocean Walk Map
You can choose between a Great Ocean Walk Map booklet or a fold out map and you can buy both from us here at Walk91.
The booklet is handy to carry in the rain as it lasts a little better than the larger map, but the larger two-sided fold-out map is easy to read. However both options are great so either choice is fine.
What information does the Great Ocean Walk Map list?
The Great Ocean Walk official Walkers Map is great as it gives details of the decision points on the trail, the numbers to call in an emergency and what to do if there is a total fire ban. The booklet also gives you a little bit more information on the history on the trail and a few notes on flora and fauna.
What to do if there is a total fire ban on the Great Ocean Walk
If there is a total fire ban or it is a hot and windy day, be prepared to change your plans. If you are not on a supported itinerary with Walk91 make sure you have registered your trip intentions to aid emergency support if needed.
At NO time are camp fires allowed in the Great Ocean Walk hike-in camp sites. Campfires can be lit (in designated fireplaces only) within the Great Otway National Park at Blanket Bay and Aire River West (which are car-based camping areas). No fires or flames are permitted anywhere on Total Fire Ban days. This includes the use of portable compact liquid or gas cooking stoves. For further information, please ring the CFA on 13 1599 or visit the CFA website (www.cfa.vic.gov.au)
Parks Victoria’s advice is that on a total fire ban day gas stoves are permitted for meal preparation if the area is clear of flammable material if an adult is present and you have 10 litres of water. If you are not prepared for this make sure you carry some food that does not require cooking. However, this regulation may change so it is up to you to check for any change in the rules with Parks Victoria before you commence your walk.
If you see a fire call 000 (or 112 if unavailable). DO NOT expect and official bushfire warning. You can also call the VIC Emergency Hotline on 1800 226 226 for information or download their app on your phone. There is also a general bushfire safety website www.emergency.vic.gov.au. This website gives essential advice on how you can be safe and not cause a bushfire.
Please note that the above information may change at any time, so please check all information with Parks Victoria before you commence your walk.
Mobile phone coverage on the Great Ocean Walk
Telstra coverage offers the best internet/ telephone coverage on the Great Ocean Walk but there are several sections of trail with no coverage. Optus is ok but really patchy, so do not rely on this service.
Decision Points and tides on the Great Ocean Walk
The decision points are really important. They are clearly marked on the Great Ocean Walk Map and these signs are found at entry points on or near the Great Ocean Walk trail.
It is your responsibility to know the high tide times and to work out if it is safe to proceed, and you must be aware of the weather conditions and if there is a large swell running which can affect the water conditions on the beaches and at river mouth openings. You can check this by referring to the ‘bom’ website www.bom.gov.au/marine. But if you are unsure at all do not proceed and call Parks Victoria. You may need to wait or turn back.
But remember, if you book an accommodation package with us at Walk91 we will meet you for a personal walk briefing before you leave Apollo Bay, so we will explain all the decision points to you.
The tides/ beaches and un-bridged river crossings are Three Creeks Beach, Parker Inlet crossing, Station Beach, Johanna Beach and Johanna River crossing, Milanesia Beach, Wreck Beach and Gibsons Steps Beach.
Swimming on the Great Ocean Walk trail
Swimming on un-patrolled beaches and rock platforms is NOT recommended and in some cases banned due to rips and swell. Please follow all of Parks Victorias signage and remember that if you do not follow the advice given by Parks Victoria you are putting your life at risk.
Planned burns on the Great Ocean Walk and Great Otway National Park
There are planned burns around the Otway National Park in autumn and spring to get rid of undergrowth and reduce forest fires in the hot weather. Therefore you need to check for the planned burns on www.greatoceanwalk.com.au and you can also check www.delwep.vic.gov.au.
Rubbish removal on the Great Ocean Walk trail
Please also remember that there are no bins on the Great Ocean Walk so if you are camping independently you must carry all of your rubbish and water bottles out of the Great Otway National Park when you leave. If you have booked Walk91’s camping support package please note that you can leave your rubbish in our trailer when you get your food drop and luggage.
Lastly, if you do see any small pieces of rubbish (particularly plastic on the beach) and you have a bag with you, it would be fantastic if you could pick it up! Parks Victoria constantly removes rubbish from the Great Ocean Walk but it is hard to constantly check such a long walk. If you are walking with Walk91 we will happily take this walk from you and dispose of it. 🙂
So hopefully the above information has answered a few of your questions. If you would like some support camping on the Great Ocean Walk please feel free to contact us