Great Ocean Road, VIC

Top coastal walks Great Ocean Road VIC

By Oceana Setaysha

September 3, 2020 | 5 minute read

Wreck of Loch Ard trail - image credit I am 12 Apostles
Wreck of Loch Ard trail - image credit I am 12 Apostles

There’s something so refreshing and renewing about walking the coastlines of Victoria, dramatic and magical at every new beach and turn of the headland. I love a good coastal walk, whether that’s a stroll along the sand or a wander along the seaside cliffs. One of the most spectacular places to do a coastal walk in the State is along the Great Ocean Road. So here I round up a few of my favourite strolls, treks and hikes by the sea. 

* At the time of writing, activities and places mentioned in this guide are at varying stages of recovery from COVID-19. Please check government and business websites for specific details on opening times and any restrictions before you travel.

Loch Ard Gorge [~5.5km]

Named after a clipper that ran aground in June of 1878 after a three-month voyage from England to Melbourne, Loch Ard Gorge is a walker’s paradise. There are four walking trails in the area surrounding the gorge, taking in the incredibly views and exploring the location’s history. 

For something short, walkers can take a stroll from the car park to a lookout before descending into the beach below. Alternatively, the Wreck of Loch Ard trail and the Living on the Edge track meander along the cliffs, with many stops for lookout points along the way. If you’re looking to see firsthand the beautiful coastline, which claimed so many ships and lives, this is a great place to start.

Milanesia Beach [~6km]

Milanesia Beach has a reputation among those in the know as one of the most beautiful beaches on the Great Ocean Road, but it’s often missed by first-time visitors. It doesn’t help that the road to get there (Hiders Access Road, a turn off from the Great Ocean Road) is very easy to miss. 

Follow the road until the gate and then get out and walk along it until it drops (fairly steeply) down to the beach. Make sure you check the tide times before you go as this is a low-tide walk. Soak all the glory in along this beautiful stretch of coast and then return the way you came!

Port Campbell Lookout
Port Campbell Lookout

Shelley Beach Circuit [~2.5km]

This little cove is a real treasure along the Great Ocean Road, and definitely worth a short stroll particularly if you’re wanting to break up the drive. There are signs along the road a few kilometres west of Marengo, and from the Shelley Beach Picnic Area you’ll find a trail that meanders through a coastal forest to a little beach perfect for a wander and some beach combing. 

Walk west along the rock platforms until you reach Elliot River, and then you can get back to the carpark via some blue gums. Be sure to keep an eye out above for koalas!

Port Campbell Discovery Walk [~4km]

Beginning at Port Campbell Beach, this lovely little track crosses Campbells Creek and takes a trip along the cliffs and through the scrubby coastal landscape. Along the way walkers are treated to views of Port Campbell township, the harbour, Sentinel Rock and even the 12 Apostles. 

This walk is definitely not for those with vertigo or a fear of heights, as most of the way the track clings to the clifftop. But for those willing to brave the dizzying elevations, there’s rewards like spotting wallabies, native wildflowers, beautiful birdlife, and of course those amazing cliff views.

Wreck Beach [~2km]

Leaving from Wreck Beach Carpark this track takes walkers down 350 wooden steps to a beach tucked at the feet of enormous sandstone cliffs. It is possible from here to walk along the beach (turning right when you get to the bottom of the stairs). 

Here you'll see not one, or two, but three anchors embedded in rock platforms along this beach. The first two from the Marie Gabrielle, a French ship that hit unseen reef and ran aground in the 1880s, while the third is left from the Fiji, a vessel sunk around the 1870s. These are a poignant monument of more than 600 ships that have sunk on the ‘shipwreck coast’, and make this walk a real experience in local history.

Surf Coast walk
Surf Coast walk

Surf Coast Walk [44km]

If you’re looking for a more challenging and extensive walk, a great place to start is the Surf Coast Walk. Stretching for some 44km the Surf Coast Walk is technically split into 12 sections ranging between 1.6km and 8.2km. 

You can choose to walk it in sections or undertake the entire thing, from Point Impossible to the Fairhaven Surf Beach (or the other way around), which is approximately 12 hours of walking that most people do over two days. With lots of beautiful coastline and some great stops along the way, this is a highly recommended long option!

Great Ocean Walk [100km]

Spanning 100km along some of the most stunning coastline Victoria has on offer, the Great Ocean Walk is the coastal walk to do for those serious about an experience of a lifetime. This one-way, multi-grade hike should take around 8 days to complete and travels through the Otway National Park. 

There are seven hike-in camps run by Parks Victoria, with whom all walkers must register before they start their trek. The Great Ocean Walk allows walkers to experience coastline that the road simply misses, and provides a unique opportunity to see the amazing wildlife of the region from koalas and echidnas, to wallabies and even whales.

So, the next time you’re heading down the Great Ocean Road lace up your walking shoes and take a wander along some of the beaches that have made the region so loved by travellers both foreign and domestic. Which of these coastal walks will you embark on?

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