Last updated 3 March 2021
Walking the Great Ocean Road
Thirteen women in their late 30’s to the mid-’40s 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 that everyone was keen to get away for a few days respite 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, the endpoint, the Twelve Apostles. When asked about their motivation for doing the walk, sentiments were similar to those shared by a 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 mates.”
The walk presented a chance to de-stress, exercise, and do what females generally do best: talk. Because when it comes to a group of women, walking and talking go hand in hand.
You choose your walking pace that 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 learn about your fellow walkers.
Topics varied: life; love; kids; health; work; food; politics and everything else in between. Just like the endless beauty of this unique segment of Victorian coast-line, conversations never ran dry.
We booked through RAW travel and our tour guide 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 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.
At the end of day one
After a 17km day’s walk, our group still has the 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 hall helped to intensify the laughter.
Despite walking and talking all day long, these women never run out of 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.
Day two at the Twelve Apostles
The final leg of the ‘tour’ was via the coach into the Twelve Apostles Tourist Viewing area. We were confronted with helicopters flying overhead and 100’s of tourist buses with visitors of varying nationalities jostling to get “that” photo. It was an assault on our senses.
“Watching all those helicopters buzz over the Twelve Apostles, I realised our slower journey on the ground was so much more enjoyable,” Madonna said.
Without the need for commercial props and the absence of time constraints, our journey provided unique variations in scenery and the opportunity to connect with a large group on a more personal level.
How does the walk rate?
The walk is not luxe ( I rate it three stars.) The accommodation and transport were comfortable and clean. The guides, professional and friendly. The meals were not gourmet but were pleasant (hey most of were happy not having to cook!)
The consensus within the group was the walk is an easy getaway, for the right amount of time (taking off for a two-three day is manageable) and fits into most budgets.
Adding a shopping day in Melbourne on either side of the walk, nicely rounded out the breakaway.
“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. A few had already seen the Twelve Apostles. The novelty was in walking the area.
“The destination wasn’t that important to me. It was more appealing to be wandering along the beaches, in the forest, and along the clifftop,” said Madonna Roxborough.
And that is the fundamental joy to be gained from walking. You have time to relish the journey, release the stresses from your other world, converse without the interruptions of our media devices. You will arrive at your destination. All in good time.
The writer paid in full for the experience. All comments expressed are her own.
RAW Travel Pty Ltd, 1/7 Davies Avenue, Mt Eliza 3930
Phone +61 3 9787 4366