Great Ocean Walk - May 16-22

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Great Ocean Walk - May 16-22

Postby BakerSailor » Wed 09 Jun, 2021 10:31 am

Hi All,

Following on from Dan's excellent summary I thought I'd add our experience and pics to the mix, my Dad & I did the hike finishing the same day but started from Marengo so only met the brothers at Johanna Beach. I'd recommend checking their track report for those days, as it is way more detailed than mine :)
https://bushwalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=35356

A selection of photos from the hike: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1mfVB2cgDV2ks-hCoc2tVP-Dvin4khFg5?usp=sharing

A Relive video from the hike: https://www.relive.cc/view/vmqX2y5YZLO

My gear for the hike:
    Pack: Osprey Aether Pro 70L
    Tent: 3F UL Lanshan 2 Pro 4-Season (my first time using a single skin tent!)
    Sleeping Bag: Blackwolf Hiker 500
    Sleeping Mat: Exped Downmat UL Winter
    Cooking: Small Trangia

Day 1 - Marengo to Blanket Bay 19.6km
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There was a marathon on that day, so Apollo Bay was off-limits, we managed to get the starting photo though! Then we started from the Marengo caravan park. We combined the first two days, starting pretty early, so we were able to do almost all the beach options on day one. These were stunning and very worthwhile, but would be a very bad idea at high tide! Unlike the rest of the track, the warnings on this section were pretty apt, even at low tide there were some pretty dodgy sections, but so worthwhile.
Lunch at Elliott Ridge, then a very muddy afternoon to Blanket Bay. Overall this section from Elliott Ridge to Blanket Bay was probably the most forgettable IMHO, it was basically a muddy vehicle access track most of the way, nice, but there are better hikes for this kind of bush.
Had a great night at Blanket Bay, got to meet some great folks. It poured with rain that night and I got a bit of a jump in the deep end intro to single wall tents. The condensation was there, but the real issue was the pouring rain turned the condensation into mist falling on me and my gear... All in all not bad though, and I got a pretty good night's sleep.

Day 2 - Blanket Bay to Bimbi Park 17.5km
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This was a great day, with lots of enclosed coastal bush coming out into occasional stunning viewpoints, which built the anticipation for Cape Otway Lighthouse! (Note, you do get cheap entry to the lighthouse if you have a receipt for staying at the Cape Otway GOW Camp...)
The hike itself was not super hard, but I found it to be very interesting, we got really into the low lying coastal bush we would see a lot of going forward.
After lunch at the lighthouse, we kept going to Bimbi Park, which is a 2km detour from the track at Station Beach. It was great to stay in a cabin on the second night, especially as we got to dry out all our gear! If we hadn't stopped at Bimbi, we would have kept going to Aire River, which was only a few km further along.

Day 3 - Bimbi Park to Johanna Beach 23.2km
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Our big day of the walk started most wonderfully with a long beach walk along Station Beach. It wasn't long before we got to Aire River a tour bus full of day walkers pulled up while we were having second breakfast, so we high tailed it so as not to get caught up in their train - probably the fastest we've ever walked!
We made it to Castle Cove for lunch, then a long afternoon to Johanna Beach. We successfully crossed the river on Johanna Beach, only to be soaked by a freak wave while putting our boots back on!
A big day and Johanna Beach GOW Camp was very much worth it - stunning!

Day 4 - Johanna Beach to Ryan's Den - 15.3km
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Not the longest day, but I think the toughest day. Started pretty straightforward with mostly vehicle tracks, which got more and more interesting as we got down to Milanesia Beach - possibly the most stunning lunch spot on the whole walk.
I have to say, to me, the idea that there is a privately owned cabin in a place like this goes against my socialist heart - this was probably not helped by the big F-OFF gate we had to climb over to get down to the beach!
From the beach to Ryan's Den was pretty intense up and down, and I'm sure most who've done the walk will know the feeling when you scale the stone steps thinking 'that must be the steep bit' only to turn the corner to those epic timber steps!

Day 5 - Ryan's Den to Devil's Kitchen 14.4km
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A great day, not easy, but a good days walk. Lots of bush popping out to incredible views, this is starting to really feel like the wild coast. There was a slightly odd section where you're going along this rugged coast that feels like the middle of nowhere, and bang, a farm going right up to the cliffs that caused a dog-leg to go behind the farm. After that little dog let we had lunch at a deserted lookout.
We hauled *&%$#! to get to Wreck Beach before high tide, and we got there 3 hours before high tide, we still only just made it through! There was one section where the water had reached the cliff face even then, but it only just, so we made it through OK.
It was a stunning beach, and the perfect way to end the days walk. I think Devil's Kitchen camp was probably my favourite camp along the way, with stunning scenery and a real middle of nowhere feel.

Day 6 - Devil's Kitchen to 12 Apostles 15.9km
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The last day. I was a bit sad packing up my tent, it felt like I'd only just gotten into the flow. Most folks I've read describe this as a relatively easy/boring day. Whilst it certainly wasn't too hard, I thought it was a stunning walk, as the apostles come into view the change in the scrub is stark and the clifftop tracks were awesome. We found ourselves on cliff faces with the roaring ocean, looking over barren dessert-like scrub. Really unique.
The final stretch to the Apostles was beautiful, although the constant buzz of helicopters was a pretty big reminder that you aren't in the wilderness anymore! We almost missed the walk's final photo op, which is about 1km before Gibson Steps, but we got the photo and made it to the end!

Overall, a really amazing experience. This was my longest hike to date (in terms of km's), and while it wasn't as hard as the Overland (which is a comparable time/distance) it was a really memorable experience. I especially liked how the track is one way because even though it was the shoulder season, most days we wouldn't see a would until we reached camp.
I'd like to have seen some more limitations on day walkers - the through-hikers are naturally limited by the campsites, but hop on hop off hikers could make the track really busy in peak season. (Perhaps there is already controls in place, but if wasn't obvious if there were).

Reflections on my gear:
Being the first trip with the Lanshan, I have to say, I love it. The condensation is an issue, and it's something I'll get better at managing with experience. But for a sub-1kg tent with space enough for me, my big sleeping mat and my explosive packing style, it's a winner. I would probably have preferred the 3-season version for the extra ventilation though, as I think this will help with the condensation.
My Osprey pack performed very well, with one caveat, in wet weather it developed a squeak. Not bad, but a longer hike might cause a murderous rage.
My sleeping bag (Blackwolf Hiker 500, rated to comfort temp of -2) was only just good enough. It was fine, but on the colder nights, I had to really layer up even though I was within the comfort rating.
The sleeping mat - oh I love my Exped. It was soooooooo comfortable, and warm. Worth every penny.
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Re: Great Ocean Walk - May 16-22

Postby Eremophila » Wed 09 Jun, 2021 11:42 am

Thanks for the report - great time to see the Twelve Apostles without the usual insanity of international tourists.

Another forum member has complained of a squeaky Osprey pack - see the Equipment thread.
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Postby FNM » Wed 09 Jun, 2021 7:34 pm

Nice one!

I respectfully withheld the story of the 'other pair' of hikers getting struck by the wave, but glad to see you included it! :D
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Re: Great Ocean Walk - May 16-22

Postby BakerSailor » Thu 10 Jun, 2021 9:02 pm

Eremophila wrote:Thanks for the report - great time to see the Twelve Apostles without the usual insanity of international tourists.

Another forum member has complained of a squeaky Osprey pack - see the Equipment thread.


Thanks for the Osprey tip, I'll check it out :)
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Re:

Postby BakerSailor » Thu 10 Jun, 2021 9:03 pm

FNM wrote:Nice one!

I respectfully withheld the story of the 'other pair' of hikers getting struck by the wave, but glad to see you included it! :D


Ha, you're a true gentleman! I'm pretty glad we weren't out there this week!
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Re: Great Ocean Walk - May 16-22

Postby Baeng72 » Fri 11 Jun, 2021 10:57 am

Nice report BakerSailor.
I will have to check out the GOW, for some reason, the thought of walking near the 12 Apostles didn't excite.
But since it seems mostly isolated beach/coast/bush walking it sounds interesting.
You mention it's easier than the Overland. How do the tracks compare?
What's the tracking app you're getting the images from? It has the Suunto mark, so I'm guessing they make GPS these days?
I have a Landshan 2P 3 season, but it's double walled (weighs 1.2kg) that I use when hiking with the son.
I haven't seen the single walled tents, though with the condensation issues I get, I'm warry to try them.
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Re: Great Ocean Walk - May 16-22

Postby ChrisJHC » Fri 11 Jun, 2021 7:15 pm

Baeng72 wrote:I will have to check out the GOW, for some reason, the thought of walking near the 12 Apostles didn't excite.
But since it seems mostly isolated beach/coast/bush walking it sounds interesting.


Just be aware that, while most of the Walk is isolated, there are some parts that get quite busy.
Near the Lighthouse, Aire River campsite, the 12 Apostles (of course) are all usually fairly busy.
There are, however, large parts of the Walk where you’ll be by yourself.
And then you’ll turn a corner and find yourself near a popular surfing beach or similar.
Still very worth doing.
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