Guest contributor, Michelle Ryan from Walking Two by Two, is here to share her Great Ocean Walk Itinerary. What a fun Australian hiking adventure for boomers!
Imagine experiencing one of the world’s seven wonders and getting there by walking! A walk that immerses you in the best nature has to offer: eucalyptus forests, rainforests, wild rugged cliff tops, white sandy beaches, and so much wildlife you feel like you are in a David Attenborough film. And top off that Australia hiking experience with some skin-tingling history.
Does this sound like something you would love to experience? This is exactly what my husband and I got when we hiked the Great Ocean Walk in Victoria, Australia.
The Great Ocean Walk Itinerary
One of Australia’s famous walks, The Great Ocean trail wanders along the southern coastline of Victoria for approximately 64 miles. Our itinerary started in the small seaside town of Apollo Bay and ended at the world-famous 12 Apostles. Unfortunately 12 has become 7 as the ocean storms claim the limestone stacks.
On this trip, we experienced quite a diverse landscape including walking through the giant eucalyptus forests where we saw many native animals like the black wallaby, Eastern Grey kangaroos and koalas. One accommodating koala strolled across the trail and climbed up a tree as we approached, then posed for us to take photos. These moments are what make the journey memorable.
Our itinerary traveled through four Australian national parks: The Great Otway, Port Campbell, Twelve Apostles National Park, and along the Marengo Reefs Marine Sanctuary. I appreciated the unique experience of walking in tall Eucalyptus forests, followed by entering the ancient cool temperate rainforest, before approaching the cliffs of an incredibly rugged coastline. And then it was time to head down to the beach for a walk in the sand.
When you walk along the Marengo Reef you start with the sand then it evolves into some science-fiction landscape of honeycomb rock surface. I felt like we had stepped onto Mars for a moment before climbing back up through the windswept heathland and onto the cliffs again. While enjoying lunch at a lookout point at Ryan’s Den, I realized that the only way to see this exact view is by walking here.
The walk ended as we climbed up the Gibson Steps for awe-inspiring views of the Apostles. These limestone rock stacks have formed from the harsh and extreme weather conditions that the Southern Ocean is known for. What a way to end such a fantastic Australian hike!
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Australian history by the sea
The history on the Ocean Walk was something that really interested both myself and my husband. And there was plenty of it! We scheduled a few well-spent hours to explore Cape Otway Lighthouse and its surrounding buildings. Built in 1848, Cape Otway Lighthouse is the oldest surviving lighthouse on the Australian mainland.
At Wreck Beach, we discovered a stark reminder that the rugged coast shows no mercy. After a descent of 380 steps, we walked onto the soft sands of Wreck Beach.
Instantly I felt the air of chill. I’m not sure if it was from the breeze off the Southern Ocean or from seeing the chilling remains from the ships of past. Walking past the anchors that are laid to rest here from the French vessel Marie Gabrielle (1869) and the Fiji (1891), gave me a very eerie feeling.
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How to plan a Great Ocean Walk boomer adventure
This is quite a popular walk and there are plenty of companies that organize everything for you with some great accommodation available from bed and breakfasts to eco resorts—start your lodging search here. There are also seven campsites along the way for more adventurous boomers.
We hired a company to organize our accommodation, meals, and transport luggage so that all we had to do was concentrate on the walk and enjoy our time.
For a Great Ocean Walks hiking tour, check out Great Walks of Australia: 4-Day Twelve Apostles Walk offered at Viator.
If there ever is a walking trip for boomer travelers to experience in Australia, I can’t recommend this one enough. My husband and I raved so much about it to family and friends that my mother-in-law booked a trip for herself. Of course she had the time of her life.