The one good thing about finishing the day climbing up and camping at the top of a steep hill is that theoretically you do not have to face that climb first thing the next day…or that is the theory anyway. Theories can always be tested and proven wrong.
Today was our first normal day i.e. one stage per day. We were determined to have a leisurely start and savoured having the entire campsite to ourselves. We learnt though that starting late means that you lose some of the precious cool hours.
Date: Monday 21 March, 2022
From: Aire River, Victoria
To: Johanna Beach
Official Distance: 13.6km
Actual Distance: 14.3km
Ascent: 432m Descent: 374m
Weather: Beautiful blue sky and then completely overcast.
Stayed At: Johanna Beach Great Ocean Walk (GOW) campsite
- It was a joy to wake up to the sound of birds hopping around the tent, their bustle and busyness getting ready for the day. If you are a bird lover/watcher, you will be beside yourself with both the quantity and diversity of birds all the way along this path. If you can’t see them, you can still enjoy their calls and songs. The campsites seem to be the domain of the Superb Fairy Wrens and it was nothing to have 20 of them hopping around our feet seeking out any mislaid crumbs. They were so sweet to watch.
- This was our third night in the tent and we were slowly getting into the camping groove – pitching the tent, prepping dinner etc. We were both sleeping really well (exhaustion?) and the Nemo Tensor Insulated mattresses were surprisingly comfortable. If only there wasn’t such a rigmarole to undertake a midnight wander – unzip, unzip, unzip, zip, zip, wee wander, unzip, unzip, zip, zip, zip and limbo back into the sleep sheet and sleeping bag. All without disturbing the other resident of the tent? Dreamin’!
- Today delivered us paths through coastal scrub then high on exposed ridgelines for limitless views in every direction. I felt so privileged to access this landscape that is normally off-limits to everyone not on foot. I kept telling myself to stop taking photos and that was simply impossible.
- What goes up must eventually come down, including a very steep descent into Johanna Beach. To get to our final destination for the day, involved a 2km slog along Johanna Beach in soft sand. Walking in soft sand is tiring at the best of times, even more so with a loaded pack on your back. Each step seems to sink that much deeper than the last. Again, we had to be very conscious of the tides. The waves were rough and unpredictable meaning you could not walk too close to the water seeking firmer sand underfoot, without the risk of getting a drenching.
- The Johanna ‘river’ dissects the beach and there are plenty of warnings in the guidebook about attempting to cross it at high tide. Not being a coastal-dweller, I was taking all these tide warnings very seriously. We chose to cross (boots off, socks off) about 500m away from the sea and, at that location, the water was only ankle deep. As we sat and put our boots back on again, we were surprised to see waves starting to ripple up the river. Obviously high tide had arrived. So far dealing with tides had worked out safely and relatively easy.
- After the river crossing there is still another 500m of soft sand to wade through before reaching an almost vertical cliff. You have got to be kidding me!? There is a rope to pull yourself up or use your hiking poles to push yourself.
- Through Johanna Beach carpark it is a further +750m walk up yet another hill to the GOW campsite, but Oh, the views! Again, we had it all to ourselves.
Top Tips for this Section:
- Effort: Pace yourself today as even though it is a relatively short stretch, it is physically demanding.
- Views: Having done all that huffing and puffing up to the campsite, the views have to be seen to be believed. Million-dollar views for only $17.10 per night.
- Dampness: Being on the coast there is a lot of moisture in the air and most mornings, the tent was heavy with condensation. As soon as you arrive at your destination, drape the tent, fly etc over any available bushes and it will dry in preparation for re-pitching that night. The dampness also means that you shouldn’t plan on washing clothing and thinking it will be dry to wear the next day. Clothing airs, but it does not seem to dry.
- Bugs: If you have the space, pack a small can of aerosol spray to spray a barrier around the outside of the tent to deter ants from moving in.
- Night Raiders: I also encourage you to place all your food inside your tent overnight. Bush rats and other hungry animals are busy at night.
- Accommodation: If you feel like a real bed and a shower, do an internet search for Johanna Beach cottages. They are not mentioned in the guidebook and could be a very nice option. By this stage of the walk, over half way, the thought of a shower was a very attractive idea.
Stay tuned for Day 4.
- Day 1 – HERE
- Day 2 – HERE
#travelinspo #greatoceanwalk #bucketlist #adventurebeforedementia #longdistancewalks #australianbush #victoria #bushwalks #greatoutdoors #twelveapostles #johannabeach #coastalwalks.