Hang on a second, what about the section between Castle Cove Lookout and Melanesia Gate? Well, unfortunately folks, I didn’t get a chance to hike this section of the Great Ocean Walk because the tendinitis in my big toe was really aggravated after the previous day’s 23km monster hike! However, what this “rest day” gave me was an opportunity to see life on the “other side” of these guided tours and just how much preparation goes in to them.
The Other Side Of Guided Tours
This particular tour company for the Great Ocean Walk has 2 guides out on each trip. Every other tour company only has one so I helped out my tour guide friend behind the scenes whilst the other was leading the troops around 19km of coastline.
As we were moving accommodation on this day, we essentially had to move luggage out of the bus trailer, put it in to the rooms of the relevant log cabins they’d be coming back to after the walk. Then we needed to take all the kitchen gear out of the trailer and put it into the kitchen cabin, prepare lunch for tomorrow, dinner and desert for that night…
The list goes on and you begin to see how much stress tour guides are under to provide you with a great experience. All these things are what you don’t see as a tourist and it really is another world of serious organisation and determination. I tip my hat. If you’re in, visiting or planning to go to Australia and you love walking, check out some of the hiking tours at Inspiration Outdoors.
Day 5 – Back On The Hike!
So with our new found appreciation of the work and dedication that goes in to the tours (and my toe getting the rest it needed), it was time to rejoin the hikers and enjoy the next section of the walk on Day 5. This involved another 19km monster hike and I’d say it’s the toughest one of the lot with plenty of steep ups and downs, which require some modifications to your walking technique to help combat the strain. So let me tell you a few tricks to help you as we enter Melanesia Gate 🙂
Tips For Walking Up & Down Steep Sections
I have a few tips I picked up from this hike which I tried out and found them to be pretty useful to avoid injury and make tackling those steep sections a little easier. Here’s my list of things to remember:
- Take small steps – even when it’s really tempting to do large ones when going downhill, don’t. If you misplace your foot, you’re putting more force through your ankle with bigger steps and it can really damage your joints. Sore muscle beats sore joints every day!
- Align your feet – especially when going downhill, don’t point your feet sideways/perpendicular to your body, align them forward. If you stumble, it’s so easy to roll your ankle if your feet are aligned sideways. If they’re pointing in front of you, you’ll save your ankles for sure!
- Keep your back straight – this applies to when you’re going uphill. You don’t want to be hunched over, which is particularly easy to do when wearing a back pack. Instead, you want to use your big muscles like your quads and your glutes (bum) as those will give you the power you need!
- Use hiking poles – if you have these, use them to your advantage. When going down hill, place both in front of your feet at the same time then open them out to the side as you walk through. This will distribute the weight nicely and take the pressure off your feet. More advice about hiking poles can be found here.
So now that we’re better equipped to walk up and down steep slopes, lets head on down to the beach as we’ll need to walk across these soft sands. If you look closely in the photo below, you can see kangaroo footprints 🙂 Walking on sand is like walking on snow, you just need to compress the sand to make it easier to walk on, which means being a little firmer with your foot placement (not stamping down but using a little more force through your heel than normal).
G’Day To Cape Otway
As this walk continues, you’ll be going further and further away from Cape Otway Lighthouse and it will be the last time you’ll be able to see it on this walk as you make your way around the many coves and uphill climbs on this section. It took us a couple of hours to get to this beautiful view point, which is a great place to stop for a tea and cake 😉
As you continue walking along this path, you’ll go through more uphill climbs, through tree tunnels, across bridges and then, just when you’ve had enough, the path will open out to a big field. Don’t fret, just remember the tips to walk uphill and you’ll be good! A good place to stop for lunch will be when you get to the benches of this big open uphill field, look back and you see this view. If you look VERY closely, you may be able to see a white speck on the tip of the peninsular – that’s Cape Otway Light Station!
After you’ve caught your breath from this lunch stop, you will begin to head inland again to the forest. This is because the farmers and private land owners didn’t want to sell their land for the path to be built across their turf so the trail needed to go inland and around this private land. Nonetheless, when it opens back out again, you’ll walk past views of “Moonlight Rock” (where English Explorer Flinders saw the moon shine brightly against these “bald cliffs”) and “Fertility Valley” (literally a rock stack standing tall).
Final Stretch To The Gable Lookout
As the path continues past Fertility Valley, you’ll walk uphill (again) and enter open farmland before entering back in to the forest until you reach the Gable Lookout car park. It was at this point that the other guide came along to meet us in the car park and gave us all ice lollies for which we were all grateful for!
So there you have it, another section of the Great Ocean Walk conquered and definitely the toughest one of the lot. However, there is a lot of variety with what you experience on this part of the trail with hill climbs, beach walks, scenic views and dense forest. You certainly won’t be bored! Just remember to take plenty of water with you.
Until the next one, take it easy
PHC Top 3 – A Chance To Win From A Growing Prize Pool
Well, whilst I’m here, I might as well take the chance to tell you about a new contest that I’ve been a part of with the Power House Creatives called @phctop3. All you need to do is tell us what your top 3 favourites for a chance to win from a growing prize pool – more info here.