Monthly Archives: May 2018

Great Ocean Road


After completing the Great Ocean Walk Shane and I decide to hang around an extra day to take in the other ‘great’ sights. I think I could come here every year and still be in awe of the scenery, the rugged and beautiful cliffs, the unpredictable powerful Southern Ocean and all the shipwreck stories make this a very special place indeed.
Starting with Loch Ard Gorge and the story of Tom and Eva, who were the only survivors of the ship carrying 54 people that ended up sinking in 1878. Tom, our hero of the story, jumps overboard and swims to shore. He arrives safely and then upon hearing the cries of Eva he swims back out to save her. Eva was unconscious by the time they were both safely back to the shore but some brandy that was washed up was administered to revive her. Tom then climbs to the top of the gorge to get help from the local pastoralists. After that Tom and Eva became quite famous with those at the time hoping the couple would marry – not to be – Eva returned to England and married an aristocrat and Tom, well he was just a sailor and went back to the sea.

It is time to move on but there is plenty to see as we wind our way back to Princetown.

The Great Ocean Walk – Day 7

Wreck Beach to Princetown and on to the 12 Apostles, 18k, easy to moderate, some clouds, sunny and warm.

Our last day on the track – always a mix of excitement, achievement and sadness. Today we are being dropped off at Wreck Beach with cars also being shuffled to the 12 Apostles to make things so much easier at the end of the day.
I am looking forward to Wreck Beach despite the 366 steps down – hopefully I have the right tide charts and we don’t have to make a mad dash back up them.

366 steps to the beach

We all make it to the bottom and we see the tide is well out exposing flat rocky seashore platforms covered in green algae – that didn’t sound like a great description but the bright green against the dark rocks is something very different to what we have seen. The rock pools are fascinating like looking into a little seperate world of wonder filled with delicate pink ruffled seaweed, molluscs, shells, colourful rocks, fish darting, star fish and sea snails.

Then of course what this beach is famous for is the wrecks with the anchors of the Marie Gabrielle – all crew survived and the Fiji – a ship with stories of heroism, sacrifice and few survivors – well worth reading about. The anchors are a poignant reminder of all those who lost their lives at sea along this treacherous coast.

We have been happy wandering at a slow and steady pace enjoying the rock pools but the tide has turned and we still have our rock scrambling to get through. A couple of people are a bit nervous but this just takes me back to my childhood when I explored the areas where lived on the coast so I was loving every bit. We helped with those people who were less enthusiastic, one in particular trembling with fright but in the end we did agree it really wasn’t too difficult and all got through safely.

The rest of the walk back to Princeton is through sand dunes and along cliffs so again it is wonderful to have full uninterrupted views of the sea with the waves still drawing me in to watch their progress to the shore.

The Devils Kitchen

There is little shade as we finally see the Gellibrand River where it mets the sea, it looks peaceful and inviting from the headland.

The Gellibrand River meets the sea

Our lunch destination is our campsite and it is a pleasant place to have lunch under the trees watching the little Surperb Fairy Wrens hop about around us hoping for some crumbs. One of the walkers, who was ahead of me, tells us how she has had a fall but thankfully apart from some bruising she will be ok and is keen to finish the walk.
It will be warm walking this afternoon with no shady Casuarina trees to enjoy as we coaster up and down the exposed sand dunes following the twisting turning track onto headlands craning to see out first glimpse of the Apostles. At last we are up and over yet another headland and see their dark imposing outline against the brilliant blue of the sea and it quite a thrill to almost be at the end of the track. The first sighting is deceiving though and there are still many more sand dunes, twisting and turning to navigate before we reach the big platform with all revealed before us – Gibson Steps, the 12 Apostles and we can see the car park is buzzing with tourists so not long now.

At last the 12 Apostles in sight

I am last over the finish line along side our almost 80 year old walker and we are jubilant at the completion of the walk. We all walk through to see the Apostles and of course a photo opportunity awaits.

End of the walk a wonderful feeling

Tonight we dine out at the local pub and talk about the best moments we had on the walk – so many really but definitely walking barefoot along Joanna Beach is up there. Dinner is so good, Shane and I enjoy slow cooked lamb shanks – delicious, really great pub grub!

The Great Ocean Walk – Day 6

Ryan’s Den Track to Wreck Beach, 12k, moderate to hard, partly cloudy, warm and humid.

This morning the sky is coloured rich reds, and purples – red sky in the morning is a shepherds warning – perhaps for hikers too.
We take one car down to Wreck Bay while the others head to the Ryan’s den Track. The parking is very cramped here and it is a great suggestion to back the cars in for a quick getaway – little did I know how important this would be at the end of the day.

Ryan’s Den Track

We are all curious as to where this track will lead us. It is easy to follow and well defined so when we pop out on the great ocean walk it is no real surprise to see a sign pointing the way we came to the great ocean road 1k. Sometimes we just don’t trust that little voice inside but we have not really missed much of the track and there is plenty before us so without too many ‘if only’s’ we head off all the better for the experience.

We are now into the hard section of the track and up and down and up we go. It’s rugged and beautiful with plenty to keep us happily walking – that and if we stop in any of the wetter areas the leaches will attack. The track continues to zig zag down one side of a hill and back up the other side – it’s nice to be able to wave to the front runners of the group as they make there way on the opposite side to me.
It is almost morning tea time and we are in for a real treat – Ryan’s Den Campsite is worth the walk in and we go further along to the headland – WOW! I now understand why people want to do the walk in camping. The view down the coastline is wonderful and we sit enjoying the treat while eating treats!

View from Ryan’s Den

Eventually, with some more zig zagging, ups and downs we find ourselves in a spot looking back to where we sat which is pretty special too. The story of Ryan’s Den is quite amazing – named after Dr Charles Ryan, who after being shipwrecked in the 1900s managed to haul himself up the beach with a broken leg . He made it over the steep ridge and down to the nearby Gellibrand River, where he eventually found help. I have two sound legs and a path to follow so it really does bring it home what Dr Ryan did.

Ryan’s Den, where we had morning tea is the 2nd ridge over and we sat just under the pointy bit.

It is also at this look-out that one of the walkers goes a little too far out on the precipice for my liking – definitely time for me to push on. I don’t think the spot we find for lunch will come any where close to Ryan’s Den.

The rock that looks a little like a ship

A place is found with a nice grassy ledge for us to all sit on but it seems to be quite some time before the tail Enders appear and there is something wrong. One of the crew has become ill and is struggling to stop vomiting. I send all the others on telling them to stop at Moonlight Headland and I’d know what we would do. There is an access road, Parkers Road, so we could get the car there very easily. Two walkers are going accompany our less fortunate one and then three others will head as fast as they can to the car parked at Wreck Bay. Our youngest walker the car owner and I head off – it’s a ripping pace through mainly easy stretches of coastal forest. I am amazed that I did 1k in 12 and half minutes – well all three of us did it actually – pretty fantastic. We make great time and thankfully our patient has almost fully recovered. She had managed to complete the most arduous part of the day very much under the weather so it’s well done.
I pick up the others who walked through normally and little splatters of rain start to fall – that red sky this morning rings true – although we really did only have the briefest of showers.