Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Victoria specific bushwalking discussion.
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Victoria specific bushwalking discussion. Please avoid publishing details of access to sensitive areas with no tracks.

Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Postby tommo81 » Wed 20 May, 2015 4:12 pm

Hi,

I'm planning a solo trip along part of the GOW starting Monday next week (25/5). I have researched the route, but as this will be my first solo hike so I want to make sure I am as prepared as possible.

I have done the Overland Track in Tasmania, and Wilsons Prom Southern Circuit, so I have a pretty clear idea of what equipment I will need. My query really relates to the route itself. Someone warned me that the entrance to Johanna Bay campsite is easy to miss. Any other tips and warnings gratefully received. Is the route well sign posted? Do I need to look into tides?

I plan to park at Princetown Rec. car park (assume easy to find), then walk to Twelve Apostles to catch the bus back to Apollo Bay. The bus arrives at Apollo Bay at 12pm, I will then pick up a map from the info centre and get a taxi to my starting point at Blanket Bay. The schedule is as follows:

1. Blanket Bay to Cape Otway 10.5km
2. C. Otway to Aire River 10km
3. Aire river to Johanna Beach 14km
4. Johanna Beach to Ryans Den 14km
5. Ryans Den to Devils Kitchen 13km
6. Devils Kitchen to Twelve Apostles. 16km

Camping fees have surprised me. $150 for five days seems steep.

Thanks in advance for any replies.
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Re: Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Postby MartyGwynne » Wed 20 May, 2015 6:12 pm

Hi I did this walk a few years ago now and navigation was no problems. I forget what I used but it was something like the track notes/guide from Parks Vic (I am sure they have changed it since then to make it less pleasant).
Johanna Beach camp was easy as you go past all the other camp sites and from memory walk over the fence and up onto the "dune" and into the trees and there you are about two or three hundred metres from the road is the walkers camp site. Hmm memory not working too well but I thought it an easy walk (just looked through my map box but could find any info for you).
Tides were not an issue as you can walk the road if the tides are wrong, but it would be much more enjoyable if you do time it right with the tides on the last two days walking, the weather was starting to close in on me so I took the road and shortened the walk a day (not all road walking but off the beach).
Enjoy it.
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Re: Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Postby MickyB » Wed 20 May, 2015 7:02 pm

No doubt you would have seen this site but it has some great info and might answer some of your questions.

http://www.greatoceanwalk.info/
Sometimes, I use big words I don't always fully understand in an effort to make myself sound more photosynthesis.
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Re: Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Postby Turfa » Wed 20 May, 2015 7:50 pm

The track is generally well marked & would be hard to go astray. The entrance to the Johanna Beach campsite could have been missed as it left the main track at a small saddle near the top of the hill & virtually doubled back in terms of direction. But you would soon realise you missed it as the track leaves the beach/headland & heads inland from this point. When I was there last September they were constructing a new track from the beach up to the campsite that avoided the ugly fire trail around the back of the hill & took a much more direct route that ended very close to the campsite. This would make it much more obvious when you reach the side trail to the campsite.

You should keep track of the tides as you often have the option of taking a beach/rock platform route or a higher inland route. If you take the beach route & miscalculate the tides you could find you can't get through & have to do some significant backtracking or wait hours for tide to drop
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Re: Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Postby peregrinator » Wed 20 May, 2015 8:44 pm

As Marty says, the walkers camp at Johanna should be easy to find. There was a new but unfinished walking track being constructed when I was there last spring, so I can only describe what I saw then. If the new track has now been completed, there would certainly be a new signpost.

After leaving the beach, walk west along the road through the drive-in camp which is immediately behind the dunes. Go through a gate beside a car park, then uphill for less than ten minutes. The short side track up to the camp is signposted. Excellent views up there.

Old Coach Road to Princetown Reserve is the next road south after the road into Princetown, just over the Gellibrand River. But you could park in Princetown (ain't no town!) if you want. That would be free; you might have to pay to use the reserve.

I'd check the tides as it is easy to do and could be helpful, mainly when approaching Wreck Beach. http://tides.willyweather.com.au/vic/western-district.html

If you are able to get the 1:25k map before you get to Apollo Bay, that might also be useful. If you can't, you should at least contact the visitor centre to make sure they have it in stock. The route is very well signed but it's good to have all the supplementary detail (e.g. contours, alternate routes).

I hope you get pleasant weather. Post a report here if you can.
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Re: Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Postby Eremophila » Wed 20 May, 2015 10:26 pm

Download the FAQ's from this site: http://www.visitgreatoceanroad.org.au/greatoceanwalk
It has pretty much all the info you'll need.

Track is very well signposted.

If you want to walk Wreck Beach, you definitely need to do it at low tide.

Oh and there's an entrance fee of $20 for the Cape Otway lighthouse precinct.
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Re: Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Postby Out_Walking » Wed 20 May, 2015 10:31 pm

A couple of times I walked the GOW, I left my car at the Princetown General Store. They've got a block of land next to the store and they charged me $10 for the week. I'd assume they still allow this. The reason it's handy is there's a bus stop on the highway at Princetown, so there's no need to leg it to the Apostles. I just checked the timetable and the bus arrives at Princetown at 10.45. Might work? If you need other info feel free to PM me.
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Re: Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Postby tommo81 » Thu 21 May, 2015 12:30 pm

Thanks for the replies, all very helpful.

I just called Parks Vic and they are doing works to the bridge at Aire River. This means I can't continue past Aire without organising transport apparently. Works to continue till end June.

Thought this might be useful info for anyone else looking into this walk.

I'm trying to weigh up where this leaves me. Thinking my only option is to start at Apollo Bay and end at Aire River, as Johanna to Ryan's Den might be too far to walk factoring in a late start.
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Re: Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Postby tommo81 » Thu 21 May, 2015 12:31 pm

Am I missing the best parts of the walk if I only do the first half stating at Apollo?
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Re: Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Postby Out_Walking » Thu 21 May, 2015 1:16 pm

Well, that sucks! What are your swimming skills like? I've been through there four times before and Aire River near the bridge seemed quite languid. Worth a punt? Dust off the lilo and go for a paddle?

As you already know, that effectively cuts the walk in the middle! If I had a choice, I'd do the second bit, but then that raises the whole 'getting to Aire River to start' routine...
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Re: Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Postby tommo81 » Thu 21 May, 2015 1:58 pm

Ha, think I'll play it safe and leave the lilo at home. Not exactly ultra light gear is it.

Going to make some calls about pickup from Aire River and do the first half. Shame, I did suspect the second half of the walk would be better.

The GOW FAQs says no long term parking at Apollo Bay. Any inside information on this, or do I just take a gamble and leave my car wherever I can.
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Re: Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Postby Tyreless » Thu 21 May, 2015 2:26 pm

Not sure if this is relevant but the Parks Victoria website says:

"Sand Road Bridge, the bridge that connects Aire River East and West, is closed to vehicle traffic until the end of June 2015 (approx.) due to repairs by Colac Otway Shire. The bridge remains open to walkers but minor delays may be encountered during this time."

Maybe check with Colac Otway Shire Council and see what they say.
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Re: Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Postby tommo81 » Thu 21 May, 2015 2:49 pm

In full the Parks Vic says
'Sand Road Bridge, the bridge connecting Aire River East and West, is closed to vehicle traffic due to repairs by Colac Otway Shire. The bridge temporarily remains open to walkers until Monday 25 May 2015 when a full closure will be implemented. Works are expected to be completed by the end of June 2015.'
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Re: Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Postby Tyreless » Thu 21 May, 2015 3:46 pm

:oops: Sorry tommo81 - missed that bit.....
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Re: Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Postby tommo81 » Thu 21 May, 2015 4:08 pm

All good 8)
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Re: Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Postby Eremophila » Thu 21 May, 2015 11:14 pm

You could always leave your car at Princetown and get the shuttle back to Aire River. Or can you catch the bus part of the way and then shuttle the remainder?

The shuttle isn't cheap but you might be lucky if someone else is doing the same thing.
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Re: Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Postby tommo81 » Fri 22 May, 2015 8:30 am

I was told I can't start at Aire River as the road to the bridge comes in from the western side. This means starting at Johanna Beach and only having two nights on the walk, rather than three nights if I start at Apollo Bay.
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Re: Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Postby tommo81 » Fri 22 May, 2015 8:32 am

This still might be preferable though if the scenery is nicer and more remote. Difficult to tell.
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Re: Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Postby Turfa » Fri 22 May, 2015 12:14 pm

It could be possible to bypass the Aire river crossing by walking along the beach. I'm not sure that the river actually runs out to the sea all the time & the mouth is blocked by sand. You might be able to just walk along the beach & then head through the scrub to meet up with the track on the other side.

I've only been there once though, maybe someone with local knowledge might know better.
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Re: Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Postby jimjim » Sun 24 May, 2015 1:13 pm

tommo81 wrote:I was told I can't start at Aire River as the road to the bridge comes in from the western side. This means starting at Johanna Beach and only having two nights on the walk, rather than three nights if I start at Apollo Bay.


Hi there tommo, I did a section of the walk a month ago over 3 nights / 4 days.

I left my car at Princetown rec. reserve ($5 a night and in front of the caretakers house. seems fairly safe)

I got a taxi ride (!!) with Timboon taxis (0438 407 777) from Prince town to Castle Cove Lookout (Glenaire). I had a lovely 1/2 day walk of about 7 km from there to Johanna campsite in howling winds and driving rain... a real highlight which was a great start compared to being dropped at Johanna and wandering the few hundred meters to the campsite.

From there, up the old coach road was just a little ordinary once away from the coast for 5 or so km, but Milenesia beach and onwards to Ryans den is jaw dropping. Great rocks on the cliffs at the beach and some beautiful cliff top walking.

From Ryans Den to Devils Kitchen is lovely, especially moonlight valley and the bit after moonlight head (just past the ugly farm with the beautiful view... you'll know when you see it)

Devils kitchen campsite is beaut especially if you get the spot right up the end with your own personal seat and balcony to see the setting sun from.

If you have time when walking out to Princetown make sure to visit the beach (forgotten its name). It is grouse.

A lot of the track is pretty exposed so if the forecast is for driving wind and drizzle it may be best to head inland but otherwise it is magnificent.

Cheers, Jim
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Re: Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Postby tommo81 » Sun 24 May, 2015 10:41 pm

Thanks for posting Jim. I'll probably do the same as you. Really looking forward to it.
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Re: Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Postby Franco » Fri 29 May, 2015 9:56 am

too late for the OP but for anyone else that hasn't done the walk already , the Johanna Beach camp site is not all that obvious till you know what to look for.
Follow the signs past the car park and through the gate into the 4 wheel track.
Going up the hill at some point you will see on your left a clearing with a bench on it.
Turn around and the campsite entrance will become visible to you.
In other words unless you look back you will not see the sign there.
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Re: Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Postby Turfa » Fri 29 May, 2015 12:58 pm

They have created a new track that takes a more direct route from the carpark up the hill to the campsite. It starts at the bottom of the hill near the gate & heads straight up the open paddock to the left of the 4WD track rather than contouring around up the back of the hill like the 4WD track does. It meets the old side track to the campsite only about 50m from the shelter. You can't really miss the turn-off now as the new track meets the old one at what is basically a T junction.

You can see it pretty clearly on Google Earth.
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Re: Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Postby Franco » Sat 30 May, 2015 8:18 am

Thanks for that Turfa.
I did start going that way, the new track, then my wife and another hiker called me over to the old trail so we went that way .
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Re: Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Postby Turfa » Sat 30 May, 2015 9:46 am

That's a shame Franco as the new track is much more pleasant than the old 4WD trail, especially on a hot day ! (why does the sun always come out when I am walking up hills ?????)
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Re: Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Postby tommo81 » Mon 01 Jun, 2015 5:21 pm

Thanks for all the helpful responses, the walk was excellent. I have posted a few photos and comments at the Trip Report section.
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Re: Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Postby FNM » Mon 17 May, 2021 6:15 pm

Hi all,

Reviving an old thread :)

Planning on hiking Cape Otway to Johanna tomorrow, then the next two nights at Ryan’s Den and Devil’s Kitchen. Will be my first time doing it.. does anyone know if it is possible to get to Johanna campground of the tide is high? I think timing will mean tide is definitely high when we arrive at the area. Is there an inland alternative that is easy to navigate?

Thanks in advance.
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Re: Great Ocean Walk, advice pls

Postby FNM » Wed 19 May, 2021 9:20 pm

FNM wrote:Hi all,

Reviving an old thread :)

Planning on hiking Cape Otway to Johanna tomorrow, then the next two nights at Ryan’s Den and Devil’s Kitchen. Will be my first time doing it.. does anyone know if it is possible to get to Johanna campground of the tide is high? I think timing will mean tide is definitely high when we arrive at the area. Is there an inland alternative that is easy to navigate?

Thanks in advance.


In response to myself, no drama at all :) We hit it bang on high tide, large swell and still heaps of beach to walk on! Posting from Ryan’s Den.
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