I'd done quite a bit of overnight hiking and long distance walks and thought, my sister might also enjoy this type of holiday. So here it is....our maiden adventure together on the Great Ocean Walk... the start of many, many more amazing times.
Day 1 – Brisbane to Cape Otway
Early start for our flight Virgin flight at 7:15 to Melbourne where we picked up our little Toyota Yaris and off we went driving along the Great Ocean Road to meet friends at Princetown and leave our car for a couple of days. Nothing much to see in Princetown – Tavern and a general store which we checked out as we waited for our friendly driver Happy Abby. Abby was full of helpful information and advice while he drove us to our start point of the hike – Cape Otway Lighthouse.
We had enough light left in the day to check out the awesome views from the top of the lighthouse and wander up to the Great Ocean Camp site 9 complete with 2 Koalas watching on. Set up camp, enjoyed a great dinner and a game of cards. Great to be out walking again with good friends.
Day 2 – Cape Otway – Johanna Beach – 22.4km …plus a side track to Rainbow falls (interesting but not spectacular)
Little bit of rain last night (poured) and got a little scarred when I went for a toilet stop – koala’s letting out a very loud primal noise! Woke at 6.20 and after lots of cooking, eating and repacking, talking to 2 ladies who camped last night as well and stretching – we left at 8am.
Bekk – Trotted off well to station beach where we sidetracked to Rainbow Falls which were not working but became a good reference point the rest of the day when we looked back. Had some tough beach walking conditions with waves spasmodically chasing us onto soft sand. Loads of cuttlefish and sponges along the shore and rocks. Kate’s one speed walking (not running) meant she could not do the required sprints and hence ended up in the water. Up over a headland to a great lookout (escarpment) which looked at Aire River and up the coast – really beautiful coastline. So wild.
Beth – Walked in some DEEP sand until we got to a lovely bridge and crossed the river. We would have kept walking ahead if MM hadn’t hoyed out to us. A testament to the poor signage of parks Victoria. So up we walked a too much of an incline slop for low BSL’s. Kate’s ‘one speed ‘ got slower. We fueled up with tuna mountain breads and off we walked again. First hour was a killer for me and I had many regrets that we didn’t stay at Aire River campsite, but got my second wind and soldiered on to the Castle Cove Lookout and found Mark nursing his sore foot.
Kate: We gave advice re treatment and Mark settled for the nurofen gel and tape and re lacing of shoe laces. We sat in the sun for a while out of the wind and watched the stream of tourists all walking past and ignoring us. 2 people said hello – one a normal Victorian and one an American….from Long Island New York. After Castle Cove came quite a tough bit. Mark and Bekk went on ahead and Beth and I plodded on, one foot in front of the other up hill, downhill…nearly at the beach and then back over the headland and then eventually a very long downhill section to Johanna Beach. Then followed a 3 km beach walk in soft sand. Very tricky and slow. Came across Mark and Bekk who had just bathed in the fresh water of Johanna River and then also successfully crossing the river. We took our shoes off – skillfully with packs still on and then also crossed the Johanna River. River very fast flowing and we crossed where it meets the sea. Not deep – half calf mark. Beth sat in the sun and dried her toes and I went up stream a bit and had a wash- very refreshing. Mark and Bekk had taken off ahead of us. Then we marched up the beach another 2 km! Beach walking is hard yakka. Got to the end and saw a path so went up, up, up some steps – grumbling then we saw a beautiful rainbow ending at the beach, then up the stairs again to discover it was only a LOOKOUT – ahhh. (We found out later that this had also tricked Mark and Bekk too) Then around further still we walked – the end of the day is rough. We finally saw the drive in campsite and then after going the wrong way again we eventually found the wee little sign up to the walk-in camp ground 800 meters further up. Well I think a lot more than 800 meters! But campsite was lovely, overlooking the beach with glorious views. Set up campsites 6 and 5. Had a good night cooking and talking, no cards – too tired and too hungry.
Day 3 – Johanna Beach to Ryan’s Den
A more relaxing and no stress day. Got up at about 8am and eventually set off at 9:45am. M and B up earlier and set off at 8:30. Sad to say goodbye, but good to spend 2 days together. Beth and I set off with no jacket on and soon put on the jacket – freezing. Back tracking a bit – we managed to dry the tent just before the rain came – yippee. Anyway, first part of walk today was along a road with great views of Johanna River weaving around through the lush green pastures lots of cows and pretty houses – then the track got smaller and closed-in, less scenic and cold and wet – but enjoyable till we finally got down to the beautiful Melansia Beach. Had lunch here after the rain stopped. Was nice in the sun on a rock – but a little breezy. Here was a decision point – beach walking or over the top. Chose the beach as low tide was in 1 hour. Was good for a while till we struck the rocks. I thought we could make a run for it between waves because that’s what it looked like when we were walking to them. But when we actually got to the spot it was a different story. I was on this rock and up came the wave to nearly come over my knee high gaiters and BL is above me saying ‘I just got wet!” Starting to think this was a bad idea, I chose another route up higher on the rocks and between waves we got to jump down and scramble up another rock and make it thru between waves! Phew.
Then rechecked map and Ryan’s Den is the next headland! Not far, not far my ass! Ryan’s Den is the next, next headland so after much more walking and walking and disappointment at first headland we trudged on. Beautiful views all the way back to Cape Otway Lighthouse. Stunning. GOW needs more signs to encourage me that campsite is not far away. Eventually after some steep stairs we arrived. Very, very pretty spot. Good facilities as well. Tent up and boiled the billy and we both had bird baths – very good. Went down to the 2 wall wee shelter to cook dinner and talked to Edith and Judith who we met last night and are also walking the track. Cold tonight. Cape Otway – 0 degrees, Johanna Beach 7 degrees and tonight 8 degrees.
Day 4 – Ryan’s Den to Devils Kitchen
Woke up early at 6:30am, Beth still snoozing so I went for a wee walk up the grassy knoll to see the view. Magnificent views both ways, can see all the way back to Cape Otway Lighthouse. Went back to the tent and warmth for a while until BL finally woke at 7:30am. Mucked around collecting water, drying tent, packing and multiple loo stops meant we set off at 9:50am! Beautiful stunning views today – up for a bit and then down and then a whole lot of up. Today I put on my thermals as it was so cold yesterday, but today was hot all day. Sun out, no clouds and NO rain! Stopped for morning tea at this cliff face looking west and took off my thermals. Kept walking up and up the muddy track till eventually reaching the road. Unfortunately no cars to give us a lift. The map we got for free is shit, not 100% accurate. But eventually at 2ish we arrived at the top of Wreck Beach lookout. 366 stairs down to the beach and to lunch. Now – how beautiful was Wreck Beach. Stunning. We just meandered along, taking photos and enjoying the moment. Two picturesque anchors to photograph, shells and a lobster head and a barnacle covered piece of glass. Lots of driftwood and other stuff washed up on the beach like a fluoro light bulb and a milk crate. The day was just dandy until we got to the rocks! We were at low tide but still had to scramble over the rocks and it was a little hairy at times considering we had the big packs on. (The alternative was to turn around back up 366 steps and take high road)
Made it through and lucky BL found the sign directing us up to the campsite. Was a stiff climb UP – 30 minutes and to Devils Kitchen GOW walk-in camp site. Boiled the billy for bath and put up tent and cooked tea. Very enjoyable evening spent talking to Judith and Edith. Lots of giant mozzies tonight, same as last night. Dinner and clean teeth all over by 7:10pm. Just boiling the billy again to take hot bottle of water to tent to warm toes. We finished the first gas bottle tonight and cracked open our new one. Judith and Edith gave us their spare as they won’t need it. Into bed and trying to get sleep by 8pm. Big and beautiful day.
Day 5 – Devils Kitchen to Apollo Bay
Aiming for an early start today. Set alarm for 6:30am. I woke a bit before that anyway. Still spent a further 10 mins lying in bed watching a fly on the tent ceiling. Fascinating stuff – glad we couldn’t kill it last night. The fascinating viewing had to come to an end and we started the pack up. No rain last night so tent dry. Just breakfast, packing and ablutions! Boiled enough water for us and Judith and Edith as they also up early and were going to sacrifice cup of tea for time this morning. They set off at 7:30 and us at 8am. They went down to Wreck Beach for a look see. So very glad we went that way yesterday as it was a definite highlight of the entire walk. Today’s walk followed a sandy car track all the way to Princetown. 8km and sign said 4 hours! We all thought it surely couldn’t take that long and it didn’t. Two hours max and we didn’t rush it. Got glimpses of the 12 Apostles but no real uninterrupted view. Saw cows and paddocks though. Lots of paw prints in the sand. Roos and cows and horses. Found a picnic table down the hill from Princetown (and our car) So I agreed to relax in the sun and care for the bags while Beth went up to get the car. Up a hill….thank-you Beth. Sorted some gear and ate a mountain bread and cheese and vegemite sanga and decided to drive to the 12 Apostles. I was thinking of walking to the “end” – Glenamble Station. Lucky I didn’t as we never found it as we drove to the Apostles. I will have to say – The 12 Apostles took me by surprise. I didn’t think they would look that spectacular. Wow. Marveled over them for a suitable amount of time and then drove back to Apollo bay. Stopped near Castle Cove at the café. We had stopped there on day 1 and only quickly used the loo and left. The guy that runs the place and is the only employee is a classic. No menu – just “what do you want?!” I do anything!! We had on his suggestion the garlic and lime calamari on a nice salad and then a hot chocolate. Sat and read the paper and lunch took an hour – $30. Drove on and arrived at Apollo Bay YHA at about 3pm. Office open at 5pm, but thank the lord, as I was in the loo the owner Gilbert found Beth and gave us the key to our room. He also had Beth’s phone and ipod and camera charger that we had accidentally taken to Cape Otway and Abby had delivered safely to Gilbert. Yippee. Love Gilbert and Abby. What followed was a frenzy of sorting clothes, unpacking and showers – ahhh. Put the washing on, then in the driers, cleaned plates and bowls and pots and all chores done by 6pm. This hostel is nice – 5 star. It’s an Eco YHA, but it has a fantastic kitchen, lounge, TV room and good rooms. Checked out the sights of Apollo Bay, bought some postcards and went to the pub. Meals look HUGE so we halved one. Steak and vegies, and then halved desert. Had a beer each and that tasted good. Home to fab hostel and tucked in by 9pm.
Driving to Wilson’s Prom tomorrow……..