Rated 'hard', the hike from Ryans Den to Moonlight Head continues along the steep hills and high sea cliffs. Rated 'easy', the hike from Moonlight Head to The Gables Lookout heads inland along country roads, through Blue Gums and farmland. Rated as 'medium', the hike along Wreck Beach to the Devils Kitchen hike-in campsite passes the anchors of shipwrecks before climbing to the campsite. Rated as 'easy', the hike to Princetown follows an old coach road, a 4WD track through heathland and coastal scrub with fucking farms views to the north (ok I inserted the fuck bit).
It rained hard last night, after I had come down from sitting on the grassy knoll looking over where I had hiked over the past two and half days. I took a nap, and heavy rains and a thunderstorm came over. Ryan's Den is a bit scary for that, quite isolated, and high on a headland. Thankfully, as with all the hike-in campsites, the tent sites are sheltered from the wind. I cooked dinner in the shelter - they are so good when it rains - with the families I have seen at the last two hike-in campsites I have stayed at. Turns out they work in Search & Rescue, nice to know they were following me each day and staying in the same campsites!
I set out early for my final day's hiking. I had booked to stay in Devils Kitchen hike-in campsite, but had decided it would be easy to hike the extra 7.7km beyond that to my car in Princetown - then I could enjoy a nice cold beer, a shower and a change of clothes, preferably in that order.
Hiking from Ryans Den to Moonlight Head was difficult, it was rated as hard, only the end of yesterday and this section amongst the whole trail was rated as hard. It was, perhaps it was in my head too. Having finally reached Moonlight Head, it was a pretty tedious hike to Wreck Beach through farmland along roads. I really don't like doing farmlands, thanks to the Heysen Trail, but it should be noted this is only the second day I have really seen any farmland and it is fairly minimal.
Climbing down the 350 steps onto Wreck Beach, I met up with some of the fellow hikers from the family I camped with the night before. A few had hiked for the first 3-4 days, until car access was no longer possible.
Wreck Beach was incredible, I got there about an hour after low tide, but I still found myself having to make some made dashes to avoid the waves. Would be a nasty place at high tide. It was a no-brainer that I wanted to go there, so I was pleased the tides were going to work out for me.
Ascending from Wreck Beach I had lunch at Devil's Kitchen hike-in campsite, where I would have stayed. I wrote a little note in the campsite logbook there.
Another hiker's logbook entry
The hike from there to Princetown was so boring, rated as easy, following an old coach road along the sand dunes. A long, straight sandy track. If it wasn't for the sound of the sea on one side, it didn't matter which direction one turned it all looked the same. I can't say I hiked this section, I trudged it. Knowing that the section from Princetown to Glenample Homestead - the end of the Great Ocean Walk - followed this same sandy coach road confirmed I wasn't going to tackle the remaining 6km tomorrow. Bugger that! Later, as I drove to Port Campbell to stay the night, I noticed that the trail ends at an information shelter beside the Great Ocean Road, the Glenample Homestead is no longer open to the public and the signs pointing it out have all been removed. What an anticlimax that would have been! I'm not sure why the trail doesn't end at the Twelve Apostles, they are only 3-4 km westwards beyond this point.
Despite finishing 6km prior to the end of the trail, I still hiked a total distance of 92.86km, so I was pleased I had hiked beyond the 91km figure the trail is meant to measure.
True to form, no, don't roll your eyes, my pack got heavier and heavier as I walked along the sandy track closer and closer to my car. But the sight of my car - such relief!
Showering later, I discovered a huge bruise and swelling on my ankle. Well that explained the pain I had been experiencing for the last day and a half - didn't realise it looked so dramatic though.
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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