Short and Day Walks
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
How to get there
Short and Day Walks
Explore the region
Need to know
Short and Day Walks
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 closedBeach access is closed due to dangerous cliff movement near the Upper Lookout, which could cause a collapse. Geotechnical specialists have assessed the site and we will continue to work through the permits required to protect the significant cultural and environmental values of Loch Ard before we start work to restore access to the beach. This work is complex and will take time. Parks Victoria will provide updates and indicative timelines once we have further information.
Great Otway National Park
Delayneys Track Closed
Delayneys Track is closed until further notice.
Bird Track Closed Due to LandslipBird Track is closed for public safety due to a landslip undermining part of the track. Repairs are planned and due to be completed in early 2024.
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 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.
Sharps Campground permanently closedPermanently closed due to environmental and safety risks.
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.
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