Great Ocean Road Walk
Thirteen women in their late 30’s to mid 40’s on a three day walking/hiking adventure. Are there likely to be thirteen different agendas?
Married, divorced, separated, de-facto and single, our group covered an eclectic “relationship status” mix. Professional, semi-professional, full-time and part-time workers, some mothers, some not. The common denominator was the everyone was keen to get away for a few days and tramp through the Australian bush.
The tour is the Great Ocean Walk, a three day journey commencing at Apollo Bay, (a few hours drive south of Melbourne) traversing through the Great Otway National Park, along the cliffs from Blanket Bay towards the beautiful Parker Inlet, finishing at the Twelve Apostles. When asked what their motivation was for doing the walk, sentiments were similar to those shared by fellow walker Anne Stewart. “I have always wanted to do this particular walk and to do it with the companionship of my friends was a bonus. It’s good to get away from your usual routine and have a break with friends.”
The walk presented a chance to de-stress, exercise and do what females generally do best: talk. Let’s face it, when it comes to women, walking and talking go hand in hand.
The walking pace suits your individual fitness and comfort level. A brisk walk at the front of the group, or a leisurely amble at the rear, spliced with many opportunities to get to better know your fellow walkers. Topics varied: life; love; kids; heath; work; food; politics and everything else in between. Just like the endless beauty of this unique section of Victorian coast-line, conversations never ran dry.
Tour guide for the walk, organised through RAW travel, was David “Mitch” Mitchell. Despite his concerns about this large female group possibly lagging with all the talking, we kept pace and to the schedule he set. As the Australian Leader for the Great Ocean Walk, Mitch returns frequently to the area to lead various groups. “I enjoy walking but what makes my job so special is when I introduce a new group of people to what the Great Ocean Walk has to offer. Showing them the environment, the scenery and all the special things along the way, gives me great job satisfaction,” said Mitch.
After a 17km day’s walk, our group still has energy to converse as the bus returns to our cabins at Bimbi Park, on the edge of the Cape Otway National Park. Add a few very deserving wines (BYO) at the communal dining evening and the chatting and laughter intensifies. Yes these women are never stuck for conversation
Mitch said it is usually women, similar to our age and professional bracket, who go into a planned group activity like this walk. Whereas men tend to do it on their own.
The walk is the perfect opportunity for a group of friends to share and enjoy this beautiful part of our country.
The walk is not five star, but the accommodation and transport were comfortable and the meals, pleasant. The group agree the walk is an easy get away; for a short amount of time (allows slipping away for a few days an easy effort) and is not expensive. Adding a shopping day in Melbourne either side of the walk, nicely rounded off the break. “It was a pleasant change from my regular routine,” said Catherine Rankin. ” Because I had to concentrate on where I was walking, my work problems took a back seat. I felt myself dis-associating from work and switching off,” she said.
Our walkers participated because they were keen to do something active, love being outdoors in nature and wanted a closer look at this part of the world. Many had seen the Twelve Apostles before, but had not walked the area.
“The destination (the Twelve Apostles) wasn’t that important to me. It was more appealing to be wandering along the beaches, in the forest and along the cliff top,” said Madonna Roxborough.
At the walk’s end, we took the coach into the Twelve Apostles Tourist Viewing area. We were confronted with helicopters flying over head, 100’s of tourist buses with visitors of varying nationalities jostling to get “that” photo. It was an assault to our senses. “Seeing all the helicopters buzzing over the Twelve Apostles, made me realise our actual journey was so much more attractive,” Madonna said.
With an absence of commercialism and time constraints, our journey offered unique variations in scenery and the opportunity to connect with a large group on a personal level.
And that is the fundamental joy of walking. It allows you the time to relish the journey, not worry about the destination.
The writer was a fully paid participant on the walk and was not sponsored in any way.
RAW Travel Pty Ltd, 1/7 Davies Avenue, Mt Eliza 3930
Phone +61 3 9787 4366 www.rawtravel.com