Return again and again and build your own Great Ocean Walk experiences. Several half-day walks explore the tall forests of the 'tamer side' or for the more experienced hiker, the remoter, steep and isolated coves of the 'wild side' in the sections closer to the Twelve Apostles.
Less than 3 hours in length, ranging in difficulty and all are accessible from established visitor car parks.
Lighthouse Cemetery and Lookout Walk – 800m, walk grade easy
The gravel path leads walkers from the carpark out through beard heath to a hilltop lookout. You will be rewarded with views across to the lighthouse, and the ocean. Visit the historic cemetery which bears witness to the realities of lives lost at sea and the harsh isolation of early light station life. Fee applies for Cape Otway Lightstation entry.
Start: Cape Otway Lightstation carpark
Marengo to Shelly Beach – 4.4kms, walk grade medium
A mixture of rocky foreshore, wind swept hilltop views and tall shady forest. The exposed, and aptly named, Bald Hill traverses on and off the beach through the sheltered forest to picturesque Shelly Beach and up to the picnic area. Take the coastal route at low tide and during calm seas.
Start: Marengo caravan park
End: Shelly Beach picnic area
Shelly Beach Walk – 900m loop, walk grade medium
This is one of the best short walks on the Great Ocean Walk. The track will take you through fern gullies, coastal scrub, to Shelly Beach.
Start: Shelly Beach picnic area
End: Shelly Beach picnic area
Princetown to the Twelve Apostles – 7.0kms, walk grade medium
The walk begins near the Gellibrand River Bridge. You will traverse cliff-tops and undulating heath-clad dunes as the distinctive rock stacks begin to reveal themselves. Continue past Gibson Steps Beach (which is not accessible at high tide) to end at the iconic Twelve Apostles kiosk and carpark facility.
Start: Princetown Recreation Reserve
End: Twelve Apostles kiosk and carpark facility
The Gables Lookout – 400m, walk grade easy
This easy return walk travels through a Casuarina tree grove to a spectacular clifftop lookout. Enjoy views over the ocean and the reefs surrounding Moonlight Head. This is one of the highest sea cliffs on mainland Australia. Keep a close eye out for seabirds, or whales from June to September.
Start: The Gable carpark
End: The Gable Lookout
Wreck Beach – 350m, walk grade medium/hard
This difficult but rewarding walk descends over 350 steps to Wreck Beach. At low tide the walk takes you to the anchors of the Marie Gabrielle and the Fiji – haunting reminders of the treacherous nature of the sea. Make this walk at low tide only and beware of large sea swells.
Start: Wreck Beach Carpark
End: Wreck Beach Carpark
Day walks are up to 6 hours in length. All walks start from the main visitor areas and the distance and terrain make these longer walks more challenging and requiring preparation for safety and enjoyment.
Aire River to Johanna Beach Day Visitor area –12.5 km, walk grade medium/hard
This is a long but satisfying walk through diverse terrain to beautiful Johanna Beach. Pass through heathland with spring wildflowers and experience awesome sea views. Watch above for Sea Eagles soaring overhead. Johanna River is an unbridged beach crossing, so carefully assess before wading across following heavy rains.
Start: Aire River Visitor Area (information shelter)
End: Johanna Beach Day Visitor Area.
Cape Otway to Aire River – 10kms, walk grade medium
Explore the lightstation before you set out. The walk to Aire River carves its way through a wind-sculpted landscape of sand dunes, coastal scrubland and calcified cliffs. Along the way Station Beach (and Rainbow Falls) is side trip well worth taking. Rainbow Falls is spring-fed water trickling down through algae to the rock platform below. The Falls are a 3-kilometre return journey from where you first enter Station Beach at Decision Point 8. When you return from Rainbow Falls, exit Station Beach at either Decision Point 8 where you first entered the beach, or further towards Aire River at Decision Point 8B, which will take you back onto the main GOW route. Continue along to the Aire escarpment lookout, before descending down to the beautiful Aire River Campground.
Start: Cape Otway Carpark
End: Aire River Visitor Area
More Great Ocean Walk Experiences
Licensed tour operators
Hike for 1–3 nights
Hike for 4–6 nights
Hike the whole 8 days
How to get there
Short and Day Walks
When you're there
Explore the region
Towns and Villages
Eat and Drink
Visitor Information Centres
Need to know
Short and Day Walks
Plan and Prepare
Walkers must move in an east-west direction. The walk was designed and built to be walked in an east-west direction. This will maximise views and generally provides the best gradient to reduce impacts from walkers and congestion of the walk and its facilities.
If you have not undertaken a long-distance walk before, or for a reasonable period of time, it is recommended you undertake some walk training. You will be walking all day, for up to 8 days. There are steep staircases and track sections that go up and down again. Sections of the track can be wet, muddy and slippery. Prepare well to enjoy yourself and get the most from your experience.
Beach Walking and High Tides
Planning ahead using tide times may save yourself a lot of inconvenience, disappointment and delay during your walk. Many beaches are exposed to high tides, large waves and hidden dangers like ocean currents, rips and reefs.
In some sections of the Great Ocean Walk, alternate beach walking sections are available. Beach access points are marked on the Great Ocean Walk Map and on the walk. Emergency markers state your ‘on and off’ access points and yellow flags mark track arrival and departure points from the beach.
The Great Ocean Walk in-land routes offer shelter from strong sun, bad weather, high tides and waves. It is vital that you consider tides, ocean swell and weather before taking an alternate route. Conditions may change quickly. You should only attempt to walk along the coastline during low tide and calm sea conditions.
The Great Ocean Walk route is clearly marked with signs and has inland options in all areas except Storm Point, West of Bald Hill, Johanna Beach and Milanesia Beach first section. Beach walking is required in the Milanesia (300m) and Johanna (2km) sections of the walk. These beaches and generally passable under normal tide and calm weather conditions. Only proceed with these sections when it is safe to do so.
Wreck Beach (at Moonlight Head) should only be walked at low tide. Walking under the cliff line can become dangerous or impassable at high tide or with large ocean swell. Ensure you are aware of Port Campbell tide times prior to attempting this section of the walk.
Refer to Port Campbell tide times (subtract 4 minutes from Portland tide times) for west of Moonlight Head to the Twelve Apostles, including Wreck Beach.
Refer to Apollo Bay tide times (subtract 28 minutes from Port Phillip Heads times) for east of Moonlight Head.
No pedestrian bridge exists for Elliot, Parker Inlet, Johanna and Milanesia River crossings. Heavy rain, rough seas and high tides may make crossings at Elliot, Parker, Johanna and Milanesia Rivers challenging or impossible. Hikers may need to wade across rivers after high rainfall.
It is your responsibility to carefully assess depth and flow before you cross. Be prepared to wait until you consider it safe to cross.
Change of Conditions
Nature being nature, sometimes conditions can change at short notice. It’s a good idea to check this page ahead of your visit for any updates.
Twelve Apostles (Port Campbell National Park)
Saddle Lookout - access changeFrom mid-September 2021 there will be no access to the Saddle and Castle Rock viewing areas while a new lookout is being built.
Visitors can continue to enjoy the other lookouts, boardwalks and visitor areas at the Twelve Apostles and the other spectacular visitor sites in the Port Campbell National Park.For more information https://www.parks.vic.gov.au/projects/western-victoria/saddle-lookout
Loch Ard Gorge (Port Campbell National Park)
Loch Ard Gorge beach access closureAccess to Loch Ard Gorge beach is closed due to the recent minor rock fall that impacts the safety of the steps with potential for further rock movement. Further potential rock movement could cause serious injury or even death if people were nearby.Following the geotechnical survey of the crack in the cliff face at Loch Ard we are working with specialists on a solution that will allow us to restore access to the beach as soon as possible.
Kalimna Falls Walk (Great Otway National Park)
Upper Kalimna Walking Trail ClosedWalking trail to Upper Kalimna Falls closed until further notice due to storm damage. Lower Falls remain open.
Notices Affecting Multiple Sites
Erskine Falls Lower Lookout ClosedErskine Falls lower lookout is closed until further notice. Access to the base of the waterfall is no longer open due to unsafe conditions. Erskine Falls can be viewed from the top lookout which looks across to the top of the falls. Straw Falls is also inaccessible from the Erskine Falls carpark due to this closure. Erskine Falls walking track is still open from the Lorne township up to the base of Erskine Falls.
Youngs Creek track closureThis track is closed due to roadworks
Great Ocean Walk - Wet and Muddy conditionsAs a result of ongoing rain in the Great Otway National Park over autumn and through winter 2023, conditions of the track on the day 1 and day 2 sections of the Great Ocean Walk are advised to be very wet and muddy.The Elliot Road section of walk is particularly unfavourable, and heavy conditions are anticipated to be ongoing until late Spring 2023.South West District Weather forecast
Attachments: GOW May 2023 (540KB)
Great Otway National Park
Delayneys Track Closed
Delayneys Track is closed until further notice.
Lifejackets Required For Rock Fishers from March 1, 2022A two-year trial of new laws that require rock fishers to wear a lifejacket at high-risk locations will commence on 1 March 2022.
This factsheet includes maps of the affected areas.Fines apply if you don’t wear a lifejacket at these sites.To find out more, visit Victorian Fisheries Authority
- Artillery Rocks, west of Lorne
- The rock platform opposite Sheoak Falls, south of Lorne
Notices Affecting Multiple Parks
Garvey Track Closed until further notice.Garvey track will remain closed until further notice. Major road works are due to occur when conditions are suitable.
Kalimna Tramline Link Walk (Great Otway National Park)
Kalimna Tramline Trail ClosedThis walking track is closed due to damage to a pedestrian bridge. Walkers can still access the Lower Kalimna Waterfall via the Kalimna Falls Walking Track, which starts at Sheoak Picnic Area.
Cora Lynn Campground (Great Otway National Park)
Cora Lynn Campground ClosureThis campground is closed until further notice due to hazardous trees.
Blanket Bay - Bush RatsFollowing the success of our fox and feral cat management programmes population numbers of Rattus fuscipes have grown again in the Blanket Bay campground area of the Great Otway National Park.The combination of less predators and conducive weather conditions has allowed a population to return that campers at Blanket Bay should be cautious of.The Bush rat has some specific features that can help you distinguish it from similar rats.· It has pointed head and rounded ears.· Its tail is smaller than the rat's body.· Another key feature is their front teeth - they are chisel-shaped with hard yellow enamel.These native rodents are known to scavenge on campers’ food, gnawing through tents to get to uncontained foodstuffs.Native bush Rats are protected wildlife in the National Park and may form part of your camping experience while camping at Blanket Bay.
Attachments: Native vs Non-Native FS (779KB)
Melba Gully Day Visitor Area (Great Otway National Park)
Melba Gully - Large bus accessMelba Gully Walk Track and picnic area is accessible for large coaches. Toilet facilities are available on site
Maits Rest Rainforest Walk (Great Otway National Park)
Maits Rest Carpark- bus accessMaits Rest Carpark is suitable for small coaster buses only. Large buses or coaches are advised to use Melba Gully walk track near Lavers Hill.
Sheoak Picnic Area (Great Otway National Park)
No All-Abilities Toilet at Sheoak Picnic AreaNo all-abilities toilet access at Sheoak Picnic Area. Portable toilets temporarily in use.
Aire River West Campground (Great Otway National Park, Aire River Heritage River)
Aire West Campground - sites closedDue to wet conditions Aire River West campground, campsites 17 - 40 are closed through until Spring.These sites can not be booked nor used until at least September 2023.