Great South West Walk, Australia

Victoria, Australia (250km)

This is a stunning and very diverse trail that runs in a loop from Portland in Victoria’s southwest.  There are four distinct environments that you pass through:  forest, river country (following the cliff top paths over the mighty Glenelg River), pristine empty ocean beaches and then coastal cliff top paths with stunning views of capes and bays.

DSC09995The thing that most struck me about this walk though was its wildlife.  There is tonnes of it!  In the first 24 hours alone I saw a koala, lizard, emu, echidna, kangaroos and wallabies.  Over the eleven days I took to complete the entire trail this tally rose to 5 koalas, 5 echidnas, a dozen emus, 5 snakes, 2 lizards, tonnes of roos and wallabies, and a myriad of birds.  Unlike other hikes there seemed to be a lot more interaction with the animals here too – they came closer, they were more active and there was more of them.  It makes for a very special hike.

The trail is a relatively easy one being largely flat with just a few undulations.  The only bits that might slow you down is the climb up and over Mt Richmond (still relatively gentle) and the soft sand on the ocean beaches.  You spend a few days wandering the sand on Discovery Bay so make a note of the tide times when choosing a departure date.  The trail is well graded.  I normally always wear boots on any hike I do with a pack but I got away with hiking shoes for this one.

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The trail is very well signposted with almost no moments of possible confusion. Regardless, I recommend carrying the Meridian Map of the area.  There is also a small booklet with trail notes which is not exactly comprehensive but will give you some idea of what to expect each day.  Both can be ordered here.

There are 14 sections on this trail ranging from 10-22km in length.  As such, you might want to join a few together.  You can post a food box to the Kiosk/Post Office in Nelson for a midpoint resupply.  Note that the Nelson Kiosk makes their own hot pies too which are awesome!  If you don’t have 10-14 days up your sleeve you can also section hike it.

DSC09622Additional tips can be found on the website for the Great South West Walk.  At the time of writing this you need to book and pay for campsites through Parks Victoria, at an approximate cost of $10 per night.  Campsites are excellent and all have a shelter, picnic table, water tank and toilet.

Portland is just over a four hour drive from Melbourne (and accessible by train/bus) so this trail is easily accessible for most.  I hadn’t heard much about this trail before I did it but now I highly recommend it.

Check out my Facebook page for more photos of this epic hike.