After 4 long days on the trail, today’s undemanding 16km stage will deliver me right to the grand finale and one of Victoria’s premier coastal vistas, the Twelve Apostles. It’s a spectacular way to wrap up what’s been a real whirlwind adventure on the wild Great Ocean Walk, already my new favourite multi-day hike in Victoria.
Trail stats: Devil’s Kitchen to Twelve Apostles
Trail hours: 4hrs
Highlights: Glimpses of the Twelve Apostles down the coastline; beautiful scenery at the Gibson Steps; the incomparable Twelve Apostles & the end to the Great Ocean Walk!
In contrast to the rush of my previous day on the trail, today is positively leisurely. I enjoy a slow pack up (and the tedious removal of several enormous leeches that have all but embedded themselves onto my tent) before finally rolling out of my last campsite and onto the final stretch of trail. A rainbow hanging over the ocean seems to promise a bit of magic.
Although I do technically have a deadline (since I’m being picked up at 3pm), there’s no conceivable way it will take me that long to reach the Twelve Apostles, so I move with absolutely no sense of urgency along the cliffs towards Princeton, soaking in the salty air and the sharp whip of the wind with every step. I’m eager to be out of the house after so many months of isolation (what I don’t know yet is that Melbourne will be back in quarantine just 3 days later, so this walk couldn’t have been better timed).
Eventually descending off the cliffs to cross the Gellibrand River and then slowly winding back up through coastal scrub, the morning passes incredibly quickly.
I feel I’ve hardly even left camp when I catch my first glimpse of the Twelve Apostles in the distance. By that trick of the eye, they seem about 100km away and I spend a split second wondering if I’ve made some terrible miscalculation— but they loom closer and closer with every step, once again providing a fixed point and a tangible goal to hike towards.
Less than 4hrs after leaving camp, I’m standing at the official Twelve Apostles viewing platform, soaking in the epic prize for all those wet kilometres. A handful of tourists cast furtive glances in my direction, possibly wondering why I’ve brought a full pack for the 1km walk from the Twelve Apostles Visitor Centre or why I’m smiling with so much intensity at a bit of eroded cliff, but I’m too busy patting myself on the back to really care.
It’s my 3rd time at the Twelve Apostles, and while the rocks themselves haven’t made a lot of movements (and the weather is certainly not doing the view any favours), it is without a doubt the best of my visits. I’ve been on a real journey to get here, and something about the sharp sting in my boots from deep blisters, the storm-frizzed hair, and the crippling knee pain makes this a lot more than just a pretty view for me.
Walking along every inch of boardwalk and making googly eyes at the sea stacks in the distance, I wear my limp like a badge of honour.
As if on cue, thick fog rolls in about 30min after my arrival, completely obscuring all views, but somehow this only makes me smile more. Like Mother Nature lifted the veil just for me before returning to her scheduled programming. What a week.