Thursday, September 20, 2007

The beach that inspired

It was a photo that I saw last year of an anchor from a shipwreck on Wreck Beach that inspired me to do this trail. Today I reached the Great Ocean Walk's iconic Wreck Beach.

Day 5: Ryans Den to Princetown

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).

View Google map of Great Ocean WalkIt 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.

View photos in full-screen mode

I Say They Say

Total time
Moving time
Stopped time
Start time
End time
Moving average
Overal average
Max speed

7h 35m
5h 03m
2h 32m

Total time

8h 0m

Select alternative blog entry to view:
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


cathrynvt said...

We did the "trek" after christmas - it certainly is not a walk! We gave up at moonlight head after the hard section from ryans den. In 44 degree heat it was too much for us - Abby our driver/angel came and rescued us! It was certainly difficult for us - inexperienced walkers (mum, dad and 2 teenagers). Ryans Den is a magical place even though ryan did not make an appearance! I enjoyed reading your blog well done!

Anonymous said...

very useful and beautifully presented too!! Can anyone comment on watersupplies availability and quality? Do you think we should get water dropped off along the way?

We are contemplating doing the GOW and all I could find otherwise was commercial operators sites with no real commentary on walking conditions to be expected.

Jez said...

Hi Helga you didn't leave an email address so maybe you will return later and read this...

There is water available at each hike-in campsite. It is rainwater, usually two tanks, one fed from the shelter and the other from the toilet.

I asked the GOR Shuttle guy and at the time (Sept 07) he said to date there had only been one water shortage problem, and that had been at Blanket Bay when car campers from the adjacent car camping site had walked over and gradually taken all the water, but a second tank has now been installed. The only other site I can recall with nearby car camping was Aire River, all the rest were nowhere near a car campsite or too removed from it to be a potential problem. I wouldn't anticate any problems, but I'm sure the park rangers wouldn't mind discussing it with you close to your departure date.

cathrynvt said...

There was plenty of water at the camping grounds when we did it a year ago, and the area has had plenty of rain since. We were advised to take our own (which we did, with Abby dropping our supplies off every night) as the water was untreated. We did however drink the water when it got hot to no ill effects. The park rangers would be able to advise closer to the time as to amount of water available at campsites. Goodluck, it is a great experience.

kangarool said...

Hi Jez, great blog, even tho it's a couple years' on now. I had a couple questions for you, but can't find an email/contact thing on the blog so am posting here. Are you around for a couple questions by any chance? Thx Kanga

Jez said...

Hi Kanga, no worries, my email address appears under the heading About this Blog near the top right hand corner.

Anonymous said...

There are a few parts of the walk that are boring. I've heard that Parks Vic have just contracted someone to reline most of the boring parts. Can't wait to do it again. Used Bimbi Park as our shuttle and central accommodation place they were very helpful and warned us about all the boring parks. Water was no problem as we filled at Bimbi Park every night. We are to old to carry packs and love to have a hot shower and a cool wine after a long day. Have a look at their web site the packages are good value.

Anonymous said...

I just finished the entire walk on 21 Dec 2009 and Yes it is hard! That was OK as I do a lot of hard walks but as this is sold as a stroll it probably catches many people unprepared. I had a day of 32c, 40c and a full day of rain however by reading blogs like this I was expecting anything. Most important TAKE A FLY NET! they are shocking

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