My feet had wings this morning as I set out on the very final stage of the Great Ocean Walk. I was filled with anticipation to finally see the famous Twelve Apostles in all their glory AND I had swapped my +16kg backpack for a featherlight daypack. Bliss!
I started walking just after 7am and it was cool and dark with heavy clouds. It felt like the path was all mine as I scooted the final stretch westwards.
Date: Thursday 24 March, 2022
From: Princetown, Victoria
To: Twelve Apostles Visitor Information Centre
Official Distance: 7.2km
Actual Distance: 7.2km
Weather: Cool and cloudy.
Stayed At: Sadly, on our way home.
- The path throughout this section was clear, wide and very well maintained. Obviously this section sees many more feet and Vic Parks takes extra care to make a good impression.
- The first 3.5km are fairly non-descript as the path twists and turns through head high scrub. You can’t see a thing other than the path in front of you. At one stage my footsteps were accompanied by the sound of bleating sheep! How weird was that to have the sound of tumbling waves on my left and sheep on my right?
- Never fear there are still plenty of ups and downs to keep you honest. This section is rated ‘Easy’ and it certainly is that with a day pack on your back. I suspect it may be a different story if you tackled this section at the end of a long, hot day. It may be a case of ‘close and yet so far’.
- Eventually the bushes start to shrink away from the track and the landscape opens up. Yes, you do start to get your first tantalising glimpses of the Apostles in the far, misty distance.
- The kilometres seemed to flick by and I was making good time in the cool temperatures. Such a contrast to the previous five days of a slow-and-steady-wins-the-race approach.
- We didn’t see any other signs of life until we spotted a solitary car parked at the Gibson Steps. On any other day the 86 steps down to the beach would have been appealing, but I was close to being done and it was an easy decision to keep walking right past the Lookout.
- Crossing under the main road and making our way to the Visitor Information Centre, I could taste the coffee already. I was shattered to find it closed for renovations. One of the major attractions in Victoria AND Australia with no information or retail/food outlets! Go figure! Talk about a missed business opportunity.
- In contrast, The Twelve Apostles were anything but disappointing. Even in the cloudy, early morning light they were simply majestic.
- It’s funny to think that piles of rock can be majestic, but maybe it has something to do with the inanimate sitting amidst the frenetic energy of the wild ocean. Perhaps it has something to do with their solidity and ability to withstand the unrelenting forces of Nature to outlast us all?
- Back at the car and pulling off my boots for the final time, I felt a true sense of achievement and enjoyment that we had set ourselves a goal and nailed it, still smiling at the end.
- I also felt, and still feel, incredibly privileged that we could enjoy such beauty with much of it only accessible on foot. We are so lucky to live in a gorgeous, free and peaceful country. May it always be so.
Top Tips for this Section:
- Don’t assume that even though this section is rated ‘Easy’ that it is dead flat. It’s not. A few rocks to clamber over and sets of steps and stairs await you.
- If you want to get up close to an Apostle, head down the Gibson Steps mentioned earlier and you can walk along the beach for a completely different perspective of the sandstone plinths. Looking up, instead of down.
- Don’t rely on the Visitor Information Centre for either information or coffee.
- It is possible to leave your car in the carpark at the Centre and catch the bus to Apollo Bay. There is no cost to park there, but also no security. You park at your own risk.
- When you get to the Twelve Apostles and only count seven of them, don’t fear that you have missed something. Apparently only eight stacks were ever really visible in the local area (the others are further west). One fell down in 2005 – leaving seven remaining.
Thanks for reading along and following the adventure. Long may all our adventures continue.
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