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Discovering Australia’s Great Ocean Road by Foot

trees of australia

All images © Natasha von Geldern

The echidna scuffled in the undergrowth, digging its claws into the soil in alarm at our approach, spines bristling. We stood still for a minute and it eventually relaxed and carried on its way.

In so many countries I visit the best way to see the real landscape, the most beautiful wild places, is to get out of your car and walk. Not just a few hours but days, to get away from human habitation and interference with the environment. That is the best way to experience a great eco travel destination such as Australia.

You may have heard of the Great Ocean Road in Australia? Well this is the walk. Having now both driven and hiked along this coastline I have to say the walk wins hands down.

Great Australian Walks

Walk the along the beaches of The Great Ocean Road, Australia

Australia’s Great Ocean Walk is a newbie in the ‘great hikes of the world’ stakes but it has every appearance of bursting through the rankings soon. A seven-day meander along the stunning “Shipwreck” coast of Victoria, it is an opportunity to experience natural Australia.

Less of the trail is on the actual coastline than you may expect but the walk is all the more varied for that. It is not just about gazing at the endless horizon of the Southern Ocean. It is also about walking through light-filled Stringybark woodland with an understory of whispering Grass Trees.

Or through lush rainforest; or under clouds of white flowering Tea Tree. There are tiny hyacinth orchids, bridal bouquets of mountain clematis, and other wildflowers with wonderful names like the “Running Postman”.

Australia Stringybark trees

Australia’s infamous Stringybark trees.

With no more than 12 hikers at a time staying at the Bothfeet Walking Lodge and hikers generally encouraged to walk only in the westerly direction, we never saw another soul on the Great Ocean Walk.

This was my first experience of a guided hike and I was impressed with the knowledge of our guide, Jane, and also with her ability to manage the group so as to allow people of different fitness levels to walk at their own pace.

At the end of each day a blissful foot spa awaited at the eco lodge, followed by a gourmet three-course meal and the smooth sheets of a comfortable bed. I’m not sure which was most welcome.

bothfeet walking lodge

Enjoy a wonderful foot soak after a long day walking.

On the final day the Great Ocean Walk culminates at the incredible Twelve Apostles, one of Australia’s big-hitting tourist attractions. After a couple of hours walking through woodland we crested a hill and there was an audible gasp of excitement from the group as we sighted the Apostles for the first time.

Now we walked above the coast through low heath and fragrant coastal rosemary. Those famous rock stacks – eight of them, or is it nine – got slowly closer and closer as we reached the top of each rise. It was an overcast day, making for perfect walking conditions, but as we approached the final lookout the sun suddenly burst through the clouds.

Twelve Apostles Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Walk ends with a view of the iconic Twelve Apostles… or is it Nine?

I literally ran up the hill towards the viewing platform, all thoughts of tired legs gone. The sun bathed the Apostles and I collapsed onto a seat to take it all in with my eyes and my camera lens. This is truly an opportunity to see one of Australia’s most iconic landscapes from a different perspective and without being surrounded by hordes of tourists, or by anyone at all if you wish.

Bothfeet runs a full seven-day Great Ocean Walk itinerary as well as a shorter four day Twelve Apostles Walk. Hikers can opt to walk guided or self-guided – both are able to stay at the luxurious Bothfeet Walking Lodge, make use of the transport services and enjoy the delicious meals prepared by the in-house chef. The guided walk package includes a thrilling 10-minute helicopter flight over the Twelve Apostles. Bothfeet is a member of the Great Walks of Australia.

Disclosure: Natasha’s tour and lodge stay with Bothfeet were complimentary. All views, images, and blisters are her own.

21 Comments

  1. Would never have thought to walk the Great Ocean Road, but what a super idea, thanks heaps for sharing – putting it on the next-time-in-Oz list. I’ve walked the Norfolk Coastal Path in England before, and of course, around Norway. Very relaxing (oddly) and meditative.
    Sophie recently posted..Almonds aren’t just almondsMy Profile

    • The Great Ocean Road is pretty special no matter what way you do it, but I think walking gives you more time to take it all in. Would love to do a few walks in Norway myself.

    • ‘Tis indeed. There are many paths where you can walk self-guided too, and lots of fab places to stop on the way. It’s a lovely part of the world.

    • There’s some amazing photography of the Twelve Apostles… it’s what makes a lot of people do the drive, but it’s about 4.5hrs from Melbourne. I’d say if you could afford it a helicopter flight would be a fantastic way to see them for the first time.

    • Not sure if Natasha has seen your comment yet, Jo, but I’m sure she’ll answer when she does. It sounds like a great way to see that part of Australia.

  2. Sounds very much like it could be a favourite walk of mine! I travelled the Great Ocean Road by car, and didn’t have as much time to explore as I would have liked, but I also didn’t know that you could actually hike it – good thing to know about and to recommend!! Cool post, thank you:)
    Vera recently posted..In photos: MunichMy Profile

    • Hi Vera, yep, there are lots of trails along the coast. Some wonderful ones just inland, too. Pretty sure you can go horse trekking, too… another great way to see the area.

    • Thanks for commenting, Ellen. Walking the coast is a great way to discover all the little nooks and crannies you don’t see from the road. There are lots!

  3. Kerri says

    I drove the Great Ocean Road back in 2008… never thought to walk it! Wish I could go back now and do it by foot…great post, thanks 🙂

    • Definitely a great way to see that part of the world. You should check out some of the walks just a little inland, too. Takes you through some great bush.

  4. Pingback: Australia - Victoria Highlights - OurOyster.com

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