Don’t you love it when a plan comes together? You do all the research, fill out the spreadsheets and lay out your gear all over the floor, weighing every item.
And then the perfectly planned plan falls over!
Yes, my 15-day Great North Walk adventure was turned on its head when, at the last minute as I was starting to stuff gear into my backpack, I thought I should check the National Parks and Wildlife (NPWS) website for any alerts. And, you guessed it, wherever I looked and in letters writ large was ‘Great North Walk – CLOSED’!
The endless excessive rain that the East coast of NSW has experienced the last couple of months has created landslips, felled trees and generally made the path impassable. Bugger! Back to the drawing board.
With a little more research, I found I could walk the early stages through Sydney’s suburbs and that became my much-shortened Plan B.
Hiking the Great Ocean Walk (GOW) was an amazing experience. Full stop!
It was not easy and I am the first to admit that it was much more physically demanding than I expected. That doesn’t mean it is not worth doing, it just means that you need equal amounts of solid training, packing preparation and gritty determination.
Seriously steep climbs and heartbreakingly soft sand provided endless challenge, but Oh, the beauty. Wherever you gaze is a scenic wonder and most of that landscape can only be accessed on foot. A fair reward for all that effort.
Don’t let me put you off. This is a true adventure and here are my Top Tips for the Great Ocean Walk…
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.
The first part of our day was rated ‘Hard’ and I was bit apprehensive about how we would handle it as we were planning to walk the hard section plus 8km of the next easy stage. So, I pulled up my ‘big girl’ panties (or compression shorts) and stayed focus on the fact that tonight I would be stepping into a blissful shower and sliding into a real, live bed! Heaven!
Pack covers on and off we strolled in the misty early morning light.
We were determined not to repeat yesterday’s mistake (getting caught walking in the heat) and we were out of bed, and packing in the dim, early morning light. It is weird how it gets light so much later in southern Victoria. Thank goodness for head lamps.
Overnight we had made good use of the campsite shelter and left our packs, shoes and all our gear (except food) inside to avoid any dampness. Ah, the joys of having a campsite all to ourselves.
Yesterday we passed the halfway point…all downhill from here! 😊
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.
The body creaked and groaned this morning as I rolled over onto my back and contemplated the ceiling of the tent, and the day ahead. Slowly stretching out my legs, back and shoulders, I checked for sore spots, strains and sprains, but luckily everything was in order and nothing out of place.
The sun was rising and it was time to get up and get on with the day’s double-stage walk.
After thinking, dreaming and planning for so long, it was exciting to step out on our first real adventure for 2022. The wind buffeted us as we walked away from the protection of Apollo Bay township and the sand, whipped up off the beach, stinging our legs and arms. Loving the early morning views over the beach, the wind gusts hit out fully loaded (overloaded?) backpacks and we stepped sideways grappling with our hiking poles to remain upright.
It has been way too long between adventures AND blog posts. Covid19 clipped my wings so severely last year that I simply had to stay home in lockdown and I completely lost my blogging mojo.
I have now decided that 2022 is going to be a year of domestic adventures and my Year of ‘Yes’. There has been far too much ‘No’ over the past two years (‘No, you can’t do that – No, you can’t leave home – No, your plan has been cancelled’) and that has to change.
So, it is Yes to adventure, Yes to positivity and Yes to new challenges.
Both large and mini-adventures are in the wind, and in the short-term one of the mini ones is a stroll, or more like a clamber, along the Great Ocean Walk trail.
Grab your backpack and your tent, we are off again AT LAST!
At last I had the time, energy, and the restrictions of Covid19 were staring to relax, to once again set out on the glorious Bondi to Manly path. So far I had only completed three of the eight stages and it was not calling my name, it was screaming it at full volume!
In the 12 months since I walked the early sections, major changes have been made. New signs popped up at regular intervals and a new app helped keep me on track if/when I became distracted by the beautiful scenery or the signs were not where I expected them to be.
Grab your hat and water bottle, and let’s enjoy some more stunning Sydney sights…