Finishing your hike with a view of the 12 Apostles is undoubtedly a stand out experience on the Great Ocean Walk, however there are many other highlights of the walk.
Popular features include the Cape Otway Lightstation (also known as the Cape Otway Lighthouse), Wreck beach, spotting wildlife including wallabies and koalas and the dramatically different scenery from the tall trees to the cliff top beach views.
We asked Great Ocean Walk hikers which were their favourite parts of the Great Ocean Walk and there was a general sentiment that the entire trail is worth doing for it's beautiful scenery which changes as you walk. However hikers told us if they had to choose, the walk between Cape Otway and Aire River has great views from cliff tops. There is also the bonus in this section of having the option to walk on Station Beach and down to Rainbow Falls if the tide permits. Other hikers said their favourite sections included Blanket Bay, Devil's Kitchen and Aire River to Johanna Beach. If planning on camping overnight, the Johanna Beach campsite is often the most mentioned as a favourite spot due to its views. Another Great Ocean Walker said if you are only going to do one section, Johanna Beach to the end of the walk has many spectacular highlights.
For those new to hiking and looking to ease your way into it, Elliot Ridge to Blanket Bay or Cape Otway to Aire River are some of the best sections of the walk to try.
There is no right or wrong way to plan your itinerary for the Great Ocean Walk. All hikers are different. Some people plan to hike approximately 10km per day and others choose to walk as far as 30kms in one day. If you are not in a hurry just to tick off the goal of finishing the walk, we recommend factoring in a little bit of extra time to go slow and enjoy your surroundings, spot wildlife and enjoy your time in nature (perhaps allowing for the odd detour and photo opportunity). We have heard of hikers who spent an 11 hour day hiking 27kms only to regret it later and wish they'd been able to slow down and enjoy their surroundings.
There are suggested time frames for completing the walk depending on your preferred pace/fitness level however the terrain can be challenging at times which is why the recommended kilometres per day often appear shorter than what you might have expected. There are also factors like mud to consider during Winter, Spring or periods of heavy rainfall. We recommend purchasing the official Great Ocean Walk visitor guide/map which gives detailed information about the trail.
Great Ocean Walk Sections & Distances
The Great Ocean Walk can generally be divided into eight walking sections, although many people choose to combine sections or alter the start and finish locations of each day's hike to match their ideal overall hiking time frame.
There are numerous variations of how you can complete your Great Ocean Walk in anywhere from 5 to 7 days. Below is an indication of how you might consider completing the walk in six one day hikes:
1. Apollo Bay to Blanket Bay
2. Blanket Bay to Cape Otway
3. Cape Otway to Castle Cove
4. Castle Cove to Milanesia Gate
5. Milanesia Gate to Gables carpark
6. Gables Carpark to the 12 Apostles
Great Ocean Walk hikers planning a day hike from the start of the trail will usually walk from Apollo Bay to Shelley Beach, Elliot Ridge or Blanket Bay. Although not as common, the more ambitious hikers will walk from Apollo Bay all the way to Cape Otway in one day.
The Great Ocean Walk is a one way 100km coastal hiking trail which starts in Apollo Bay and ends at the 12 Apostles in Victoria. The Great Ocean Walk is popular for day hikes or as a series of one day hikes. Alternatively, the entire Great Ocean Walk trail can be completed in 5, 6, 7 or 8 days depending on your fitness, pace and how much time you would like to spend enjoying wildlife spotting, detours and immersing yourself in the scenery.
Want to find out more? Read about Jaeya's solo Great Ocean Walk experience.
Ride With Us provide a transport shuttle service for the Great Ocean Walk for solo hikers, couples/pairs and small groups of up to 8 people. Transport operates 7 days a week by advance booking. One off transfers, multi day transport, food and water drops and luggage service available. Pick up and drop off locations include the Great Ocean Walk trail, train stations and airports, campgrounds, accommodation and your car. Plan your walk.
Join the Tips for Hiking The Great Ocean Walk Facebook Group.
I did the Great Ocean Walk April 29- May 4 of 2023 and it was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had. I didn't know much about the trail until about a week before I did it. Seven days before I was supposed to fly to Melbourne I saw a post about it on social media and decided that the trail was something I had to do. I flew to Melbourne and rented gear and hit the trail for my first solo backpacking trip.
For me, one of the coolest parts of the experience was reaching the first part of the trail in the bush past Apollo bay. It felt like I had truly made it on the trail and like I was going to accomplish something important. I made it to Elliot ridge campground feeling confident about the rest of the hike and happy to meet other hikers at the campground. Everyone was super friendly and was happy to chat about their plans for the hike and advice for the rest of the trail. I felt safe and happy in the forest and excited for what the next day would bring.
Day 2 and 3 were long and the very muddy and technical trail from Elliot Ridge to Blanket Bay was tedious. I decided to combine some of the hiking and hike from Elliot to Cape Otway. I have never been so excited to see a cafe in my life and the walk from the cafe to the campground felt much farther than the sign saying 500m suggested. The long days of hiking were totally worth it though. I saw beautiful forests and amazing views of the ocean. I think the end of the third day was one of my favorite moments on the trail and I would recommend to everyone to stay at Johanna beach. I’ll admit that I hate walking on sand and the two kilometer walk along Johanna beach is no exception. It felt weird to be on the beach all by myself, unable to see the end of the beach and nervous about whether I was in the right spot. But making it to the end of the beach was beautiful. The ocean was wild and when I finally reached the campground I was treated to a beautiful view of the beach that I had been on.
The next day I decided not to combine the two parts of the trail which I was very thankful for. I hiked to Ryan’s Den and had an excellent time. I spent a long time at Ryan’s Den which I really enjoyed. There is a platform with a beautiful view of the path ahead that was very peaceful. This was the first campsite that I was all alone at, it was so quiet that I felt a little weird. It gave me time to reflect on the trail and to call some of my family. I was in my tent very early though, the rain had started and I wanted to stay dry and cozy. The night was long and I was woken up several times to the wind and rain, hoping that my tent would keep me dry and wishing the morning would come faster. When I woke up I was in a predicament. I checked my phone and there was a wind warning for the area that I was in but there was no way for me to get off the trail except hiking to the end. I decided to press on cautiously.
My fifth day was tedious with a steep descent to a creek crossing and a lot of elevation gain and loss. The trail was very muddy too which made me scared to fall and injure myself. I made it to Devil’s Kitchen without any incidents though which was nice and met a group of women who were doing the trail in different sections. They had stopped for lunch and gave me some encouragement before heading out. Devil’s Kitchen was beautiful, the nicest view from a toilet I have ever seen. I spent my afternoon at the lookout and reading all the notes written on the shelter, they made me laugh and feel less lonely. It was cool to picture how many other people had been where I was. They had survived and so would I.
The last day was bittersweet. I had my first view of the Twelve Apostles 15 kilometers away and it was cool to see where I was hiking too. I walked slowly towards the end, wanting to savor every moment I had on the trail until I was done. I was proud of what I had accomplished when I made it to the end. I felt like I had truly earned the beautiful view at the end of the trail.
If I were to do the trail again, there isn't much that I would do differently. I really enjoyed doing it solo, I felt safe on the trail and saw enough people to remain sane. Although I would love to experience it with someone else. My advice would be to take your time, there is so much beauty along the trail. My favorite campsites that I stayed at were Johanna beach and Devil’s Kitchen but Blanket Bay was beautiful too. I loved the Great Ocean Walk, it is an experience that I will never forget and I would love the opportunity to do it again.
Great Ocean Walk experience and photos by Jaeya Hough. Share your own Great Ocean Walk adventure with us and be rewarded; Find out how.
Ride With Us provide a transport shuttle service for the Great Ocean Walk for solo hikers, couples/pairs and small groups of up to 8 people. Transport operates 7 days a week by advance booking. One off transfers, multi day transport and luggage service available. Pick up and drop off locations include the Great Ocean Walk trail, train stations and airports, campgrounds, accommodation and your car.
Join the Tips for Hiking The Great Ocean Walk Facebook Group.
Ride With Us
Experience the Timboon and the 12 Apostles region with Ride With Us, see the icons of the Great Ocean Road. We provide transport services throughout the region including taxi and shuttle services, bike hire and more.