Rated 'easy', a footpath leaving Apollo Bay alongside the Great Ocean Road leads to Marengo Caravan Park. Rated as 'medium/hard', the route to Elliot Ridge follows the coast on a walking track and beaches from farmland to tall wet forests along old forest tracks.
I had Apollo Bay early this morning, setting out at 7.30am (I thought it was 7.00am... but my clock was still set to CST). The previous night as I walked home from the pub & a good meal, I was glad of the calm, cool weather. Yesterday had been warm and sunny, but later that might I was awoken to tremendous winds - the kind in which I would not like to be camping in a dome tent. The winds would hae been strong enough to push a domie flat - not a nice camping experience. But hiking tents are much smaller and robust. By 6am the wind had thankfully gone, although there was no sign of the sun behind the clouds. There were some early showers as I hiked, but these were welcome relief from the warm weather.
I started hiking from Apollo Bay Recreation Reserve - a caravan park and footy oval combined - about 1km from the start of the trail. I would have walked that section the previous night on the way to the pub. If I were to hike the Great Ocean Walk again, I would stay in the Marengo Caravan Park and start from there, the hike from Apollo Bay to Marengo is just along a roadside path.
I was glad of choosing to wear my hiking boots rather than my hiking shoes - I got wet feet a few times today, but my hiking boots are fully waterproof, I could step into the sea or a creek and not get wet feet - I did both, the sea accidentally as I scrambled over some rocks, and the creek was just unavoidable. The advice to only do the beach walking during low tide seems sound - I hiked through a low tide and there were several spots where the waves came close. Having hiked through one decision point, electing to take the inland route over Bald Hill rather than the beach route - I decided in future to always favour the beach route. The beach was relatively wasy to hike on, even with my extra pack weight, and scrambling over the rocks was cool, albiet sometimes slippery - particularly between Decision Points 4 & 5.
I reached Elliot Ride hike-in campsite within two and a half hours, I was glad I decided to skip this suggested campsite and combine two suggested hiking legs. Hiking through the tall forests of blue gums was cool, following fire tracks. It was a little eerie hiking through the quiet forest alone. Hiking towards Blanket Bay it was quite an experience to see the ocean through the trees, and moments later to hear the crashing waves.
I accidentally deleted my map path from my GPS unit, so I have grabbed someone else's off of the internet for todays hike, although the three waypoints are accurate.
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Day 1: Apollo Bay to Blanket Bay
Day 2: Blanket Bay to Aire River
Day 3: Aire River to Johanna Beach
Day 4: Johanna Beach to Ryans Den
Day 5: Ryans Den to Princetown