These notes have been written by a professional guide with the help of many guests. You will find them very helpful. We don’t charge for them but please consider our accommodation and services when doing the walk.
• The idea for a coastal walk along the west coast of Victoria was first mooted in 1974.
• A feasibility study for the South Coast Track between Portland and Anglesea incorporating the sections between Apollo Bay and Port Campbell was conducted by the Department of Conservation Forests and Lands, in 1989.
• In 1990 reference to a long distance walk between Peterborough and Princetown was included in the Port Campbell National Park Management Plan as a medium priority.
• Members of the local business community developed the concept for a walk in 1994 over bottles of port in a shed near Cape Otway. Initially known as the Great Ocean Road Walk Track, it was refined to be known as the ‘Great Ocean Walk’.
• A Great Ocean Walk Management Committee was formed in 1994/5 including community, representatives from the Shires, National Parks Service and Shipwreck Coast Tourism. A bid to the federal department of tourism for the first stage of works was submitted with support from the then Victorian Minister Hon. Mark Birrell.
• In 1996 Parks Victoria commenced a Values and Risk assessment project to look at potential impacts associated with the walk.
• The Regional Tourism Development Program funding bid was approved for Stage 1 in 1996, valued at $229,000 including in-kind contributions. Parks Victoria commenced construction shortly after using people employed through the Department of Employment Education and Training New Work Opportunity Program.
• 1996 – The Otway National Park Management Plan includes the Great Ocean Walk as a significant increase to walking opportunities.
• 1997/8 – A Greencorps program was engaged by Parks Victoria to carry out further on ground works to link earlier construction.
• 1998 – The Port Campbell National Park and Bay of Islands Coastal Park Management Plan includes Great Ocean Walk as an increase in walking opportunities in the park.
• 1998/99 – Parks Victoria engaged Ballarat University’s Centre for Environmental Management to undertake detailed values and development risk assessment for entire walk.
• 2000 – Luebbers and Associates commenced the heritage study of indigenous culture of the walk study area for Parks Victoria with support from Framlingham Aboriginal Trust. How Woodhouse Graesser commence geotechnical investigations.
• In June 2002 Parks Victoria approved the project with the second major phase of construction work commencing on 26 August by specialist track builders from Victoria and Tasmania, who worked on tracks such as the Overland Track and Western Arthurs in Tasmania and the new Wilsons Promontory SE track. This phase of work was completed in 2003.
• Parks Victoria continued to create a basic track link with the next phase of work, which was completed in 2004, again with specialist track builders.
• The last phase of construction commenced in late 2004 through to December 2005 to provide a safer and improved track which has resulted in a much greater experience accessing some spectacular scenery along the Otway Coast.
• The Great Ocean Walk was launched by The Hon. John Thwaites, Minister for the Environment, on January 9th 2006 and has since seen visitors from across Australia and the world travel to Victoria to enjoy this unique coastal experience.
• The alignment of the Great Ocean Walk was designed after review of the extensive environmental, cultural, geotechnical, risk and cost investigations spanning five years, referring to past track marking and involving hundreds of hours of fieldwork.
• 22km of new walking track has been built between 2002 and 2005 by expert track builders.
• Nearly the entire walk has been constructed by hand with basic tools such as mattocks, shovels and crowbars adding greatly to the natural feel of the walk and ability of the track to blend into the surrounding environment.
• Over 25km of track previously built has been cleared.
• Over 1200 rock steps have been laid in the new sections of track from local and imported stone. Rock steps have all been hand built with stone moved around the track by power carriers and Tirfor whinches. Rocks weighing over 300kg have been moved by the crews.
• Two major elevated sets of steps were constructed at Ryans Den (2 flights 45 steps) and Cape Volney (7 flights 131 steps).
• Rock stepping stones and small rock bridges have been used to cross small water courses and a timber bridge was built to cross a creek near Cape Volney.
• 454 timber on-ground and elevated steps have been built in steeper terrain along the walk. Timber has been carried in by hand and power carrier for up to 1.5km. Harnesses have been used by the crews to work safely in steep areas.
• Over $1.2 million dollars has been spent on the construction of tracks along the walk.
• 300 volunteer days have supported recent track clearing and construction work from Conservation Volunteers Australia, international volunteers, Greencorps, Deakin University and the Regional Employment and Education Program.
• More than 300 new signs have been installed along the walk.
• Fallen logs have been repositioned and re-used as low boardwalks.
• Two hygiene stations have been built at Blanket Bay and Parker Inlet to reduce the potential spread of Phytopthora cinnamomi. Walkers are asked to clean down their gear and footwear at these points.
• 1km of informal tracks have been closed and rehabilitated around station beach to protect sensitive sand dunes and cultural sites.
• Sections of disturbed land are being revegetated with indigenous species along the walk.
• The track crews spent over 100 nights camping out in and nearby the park
• The Great Ocean Walk (GOW) is located between the Great Ocean Road and the sea. It is three hours and 200km west of Melbourne Australia, via Geelong along the coast (B100) or Colac (A1)-over the range.
• The GOW is an approximately 91 kilometre track which stretches from Apollo Bay to Glenample Homestead, adjacent to the Twelve Apostles, and passes through the Great Otway and Port Campbell National Parks.
• The GOW was launched in January 2006 and has become Victoria’s iconic long-distance coastal walk attracting many national and international walkers.
• The establishment cost for the Great Ocean Walk was $2.3 million which created an integrated, linked trail system from Marengo to Glenample Homestead.
• One of the unique aspects of the GOW is that walkers can ‘step on and step off’ the trail, completing short, day, overnight or multi-day hikes, ranging from easy walks to difficult treks.
• The complete linear walk (approx. 91 kms) can be completed between five to seven nights.
• Walkers will experience spectacular coast and forest scenery including rocky platforms, sheltered beaches, rivers, forests and coastal heathland.
• Wildlife includes Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Black Wallabies, evidence of echidnas on the ground and koalas in the trees around Cape Otway. At vantage points along the trail walkers have the opportunity to see dolphins and, from June to September, migrating whales.
• A variety of birds may be observed including King Parrots, Rufous Bristlebirds, Crimson Rosellas, Singing Honeyeaters, Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos and Gang-gang Cockatoos. Wedge-tailed Eagles and White-bellied Sea-eagles are also seen. Along the beach flocks of Crested Terns, larger Pied or Sooty Oystercatchers and occasionally Little Penguins, can be seen.
• At night campers may hear the Boobook and Powerful Owls in the forests or the unusual screaming sound of the Yellow-bellied Glider or the puppy-like yaps of Sugar Gliders.
• Cape Otway is renowned for its shipwreck history and evidence of this can be seen at Wreck Beach where walkers can visit the anchors of the Marie Gabrielle and Fiji, embedded in the sand.
• The Gadabanud people’s traditional Country transcends what is known today as the Otway coastline. This area, rich and diverse in plant and animal life, has been a gathering, ceremonial and feasting place for thousands of years. Many sites and spiritual links remain today. Local Gadabanud & Aboriginal people are closely involved with Parks Victoria in the protection, restoration and management of significant sites.
• Near The Gables lookout walkers can experience some of the highest sea cliffs in mainland Australia.
• The walk goes from ‘mild’ in the east to ‘wild’ in the west. As walkers hike west the walk becomes more remote and challenging.
• The final section of the walk concludes with spectacular views of the Twelve Apostles before crossing the Great Ocean Road to Glenample Homestead. The Homestead was built by pioneer pastoralist Hugh Gibson in 1869. Today, the homestead houses interpretive information on early pastoral and maritime history of the area. Contact Parks Victoria for opening times.
• The walk includes a mixture of tracks, gradients and surfaces including beach walking 5%, walking tracks 53%, management vehicle only tracks 13% and vehicle tracks 29%. There are a number of sections where further beach walking is an option.
• Drinking water is not available along the track. Tanks at campsites hold untreated rainwater. Walkers must be prepared to carry their drinking water requirements or to treat rainwater.
• Track alignment was decided after comprehensive environmental, landscape, heritage and cultural values assessments. Geological and geo-technical investigations were also completed to assess coastal stability and erosion issues.
• The track surface is predominantly made of natural soils or sand, however boardwalks and crushed rock have been laid to protect areas from erosion.
Common and scientific names used in this list are from the standard reference on Australian bird names:
Christidis L & Boles W (2008) Systematics and Taxonomy of Australian Birds. CSIRO, Collingwood, Victoria.
$6.3 MILLION TOURISM BOOST TO ICONIC GREAT OCEAN WALK
Victoria’s south-west will receive a major tourism boost after the Brumby Labor Government today announced the $6.3 million final stage of an upgrade to the iconic Great Ocean Walk to make it more appealing to day-trippers and less experienced walkers.
Speaking today from Logans Beach in Warrnambool, Premier John Brumby said the enhancements would boost tourism, make the 104-kilometre Walk more accessible and provide economic benefits to surrounding towns and cities, including Warrnambool.
“The enhancement and extension of the Great Ocean Walk will provide a world-class nature-based tourist attraction for experienced and inexperienced hikers alike,” Mr Brumby said.
Great Ocean Walk Project Update February 2012
IMPROVING THE EXPERIENCE 2011-2014 WORKS AND STRATEGIES
February 2012 Update.
Parks Victoria is undertaking works and developing strategies that aim to improve the visitor experience on the Great Ocean Walk. The proposed improvements are reflective of the recommended actions contained in the “Great Ocean Walk Strategic Directions Plan 2009- 2014”, particularly those of Strategic Goal 2: Focussing on experience – developing authentic, memorable and engaging GOW experiences.