Coastal hiking & stormy camping

The Great Otway National Park is located in southwest Victoria, along the Great Ocean Road – one of Australia’s most iconic coastal drives. Although we have spent a lot of  time on the Surf Coast, we rarely head down as far as the Otways. This is mainly because it’s about a three and a hour hours drive, a decent effort for a weekend trip.

We headed down late on a Friday night, arriving just before midnight. Our site was in the Blanket Bay camp ground, a one minute walk to the beach. Setting up our campsite in the the dark and drizzle was tricky and we were glad to cruawl into bed, being rewarded with the lovely sounds of the bush as we fell asleep.

Ideal campsite

After a lazy sleep in on Saturday  morning, we down to the tiny town of Princetown. Our plan was to walk along the Great Ocean Walk along the coast to the Twelve Apostles. We began in high spirits, Dante with a coffee in his hand and the sun shining .

The Great Ocean Walk is 104km and can be completed in stages, or just as a smaller segment. The Princetown to Twelve Apostles segment is 8km one way, 16km as a round trip which is what we did.

Our hike begun with a downhill, then along a boardwalk over the wetlands which was teeming with bird life. Not long after we headed in to coastal grasslands which we decided was a perfect snake spotting situation: long grass and the beaming sun. Thankfully the snakes had better things to do and didn’t join our hike.

Eventually we weaved closer to the coast line and were rewarded with beautiful views of the ocean.

 

Clear sky, perfectly blue water and the deep yellow of the sand and cliffs made for a spectacular sight. We continue along, now with the Twelve Apostles in clear view. We passed what would be one of the only two other groups we came across during the whole hike.

 

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After two and a bit hours of walking, the heat started to wear us down, as did the Hangry Monster. We were glad to make it to the Twelve Apostles visitor centre where we could get some shade, have some lunch and a break. Fueled up, we went to the viewing point where the Apostles could be admired, along with three thousand other tourists.

The Twelve Apostles are really high (over 40 metres) limestone stacks standing in the ocean, not far from the shore and quite close together. They are a HUGE tourist attraction with some keen sightseers making the trip from Melbourne and back in a day (4.5 hour driving). Apparently there were only ever nine stacks and in 2005 one crumbled, leaving eight remaining.

Once we took the appropriate photos, we made our way back. The sky was dark and threatening with rain most of the return trip. Thankfully we were joined by a gentle sea breeze but not so thankfully we were also joined by a posse of flies.

Back through the grasslands,  wetlands and up the hill back to Princetown was at a faster pace as we raced to beat the impending downpour. We made it to shelter as the heavens opened up.

After driving back to camp – and spotting some wallabies on the way – we took a dip in the bay while the rain still persisted. It was the perfect way to finish a hot day of hiking.

Dinner was our camping staple: bean tacos with extra jalapenos and a beer. The rain did not let up one bit, which made for a cozy night in.

Sunday morning consisted of a walk along the beach and then driving back to Melbourne.

Another great weekend of exploring our beautiful home state of Victoria.

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