The day already began warm. We had our breakfast and Andrew dropped in to give us another packed lunch (I was starting to feel like a spoiled school kid). Before he left, he advised us, that the end of today’s walk was only about 500m from the Princetown pub and he could pick us up from there later in the afternoon, sounded good to us.
Today’s walk was 16km plus an extra 1 kilometre from our accommodation at Southern Anchorage Retreat and finishing at Princetown. The elevations started at around 150m but were only to about 120m for the remainder of the day. We took off back down the country road we had come along yesterday afternoon and soon came back to where the Great Ocean Walk began again. We went under the electrified cattle wire and over the fence back into bush land. This section of track is actually quite new and replaces a much more mundane track that once followed the road. It ran through deep gullies and tall trees and was quite spectacular.
Fly’s were already becoming a problem. Like I said yesterday make sure you bring your insect repellent or you may just come to fully appreciate and understand the meaning of the Great Aussie Salute.
The track wound its way through dense bushland and around a large property with what could only be described as some of the best views on the planet. I imagine they would get some pretty interesting weather also. We walked through a boot cleaning station which I mentioned in day fours post. The idea being to clean your boots of any seeds and diseases that you may be carrying preventing contamination of delicate areas. There was also a lot of boardwalks that I’m guessing help prevent this and erosion.
We took a short detour to The Gables Lookout. The view didn’t really seem any more spectacular than all the other views we had seen (I think we were just spoiled way too much on this trip) but I found out later it is a great place for spotting the Southern Right Whales which frequent the coast in the winter months (should have read my notes).
We then made our way towards the aptly named Wreck beach. Wreck beach can be reached by road (a must for travelers) and is also a decision point as there is a clifftop walk and a beach walk. Obviously there are certain times that beach walking is unsafe, therefore clifftop is the only way, but it would be a shame to miss this fabulous stretch of coastline. There is exactly 366 steps down to the beach, very steep drop of roughly 100m. It is called wreck beach because there is the ruins of 2 ships here. The ‘Marie Gabrielle’ in strong winds, ran into a reef here in 1869 on route to China with tea and the ‘Fiji’ ran aground because of poor visibility and a faulty navigational system in 1891 on route from Hamburg to Melbourne. Apart from the few remaining bones of these old ships (it really does fill you with awe seeing parts of old wrecks) there is literally hundreds of rock pools of different shapes and sizes to explore for plant and animal life.
The good thing for us on this day was that fly’s don’t particularly like the beach as much as the bush so we had a little bit of a reprieve. We walked on up the beach which soon joined up with Moonlight beach, the whole distance was about 1.5km. The clifftop track part of this walk is the same distance. (Just as a note for hikers staying at the campground. The Devils Kitchen campground is about 300m from the end where beach and clifftop join again. If you are camping here for the evening I would recommend walking the clifftop, setting up camp and taking a nice pack-less walk down to beach later on). We rejoined the main track and went very steeply (not 366 steeply, thank God) back up to the main track where we could see along the beach we had just been on. Shortly after this we entered into what is known as the ‘ Twelve Apostles Marine National Park’ which doesn’t allow any fishing for 5km out to sea protecting the ocean life in this area for future generations to enjoy.
As the afternoon settled in, the little bit of cloud cover that we had been enjoying began to thin out but not quite burn away, this on top of virtually zero wind and it became a very hot and humid day.
Later in the afternoon we came to Gellibrand River inlet that would lead us into Princetown and a beautiful wildlife reserve. We had both depleted our water supply down to nothing today, due to the warm weather, but once again it was close to the end of the walk so no major issue. I had put in 2.5 litres into my water bladder that morning, once again 0.5 short, you would reckon I’d learn sooner or later. As we came down the track towards Princetown we passed the Princetown camping ground situated next to the cricket oval on Old Coach Rd (as mentioned in Day fives post). Shortly after this came the end of todays walk at the bridge over Gellibrand River and we could see at the top of the hill to our north, the Princetown pub. We took a fascinating boardwalk across the river and by the time we got to the pub were extremely thirsty. We smashed (slang for; drank very quickly) a couple of glasses of water each prior to having a cold beer or two. It took me about 15 minutes or so to cool down, it was a very hot afternoon. Andrew picked us up a bit later on and we headed home for our last evening at Southern Anchorage Retreat.
Join us again next week when we do our final leg of this journey to the Twelve Apostles.