South West Victoria Walking Tours
Although recreational walking ( or bush walking) is popular in Australia, walking holidays are not, and the main reason is that Australia doesn’t have the infrastructure to properly support walking holidays.
In Europe ( in particular Britain) there are networks of old established walking paths that connect villages and townships and walkers can set off from one village and walk to the next village and have lunch in a local pub or restaurant then set off in the afternoon to another hamlet or town and spend the night there in a B & B or hotel before setting off again the next day.
In Australia there are very few towns that have walking paths that connect to neighbouring towns (unless you want to walk at the side of a main road or highway) and the distances between towns is usually at least a full days walk with no facilities in between.
In the last few years tourist authorities and councils have tried to make local tourist destinations more walker friendly, some have been successful and others a complete waste of money. The following are some of the walking holidays and tours around the South West of Victoria..
Warrnambool Walking Tours
There are four published short walks around Warrnambool - The Promenade Walk -is of the most popular. The walk which goes from the Warrnambool Breakwater to the mouth of the Hopkins river, many locals do this walk as their daily exercise. Warrnambool History Walk is a two hour self guided walk around the main business area which takes in many of the cities historic buildings Warrnambool Cemetery Walk - a short self guided tour of the historic graves, which takes about an hour Warrnambool Gardens Walk- a short self guided walk around the Warrnambool botanic gardens.
Port Campbell Walks
Port Campbell Discovery Walk starts from the Port Campbell Surf Lifesaving Club and crosses over Campbell’s Creek and then up a series of steps which lead to a pathway that takes you Two Mile Bay. The walk takes in views of the bay, and coastline towards the 12 Apostles and Sentinel rock. The round trip takes about an hour.
Loch Ard Gorge Walk is a series of three short walks that take you either side of of Loch Ard Gorge, covering the geology, history and scenic attractions around Loch Ard Gorge. The three walks take about 2 to 3 hours to complete (or an hour per walk)
The Great Ocean Road Walk
The government and local tourist authorities have recently poured in excess of $6million into upgrading the 91 kilometre walking track from Apollo Bay to the 12 Apostles, but apart from two small settlements there is no accommodation along the track. The terrain along the walk can be quite challenging and walkers should expect to do between 15 and 20 kilometres per day which means the walk typically takes between 5 to 7 days to complete and due to the location (and lack ) of accommodation along the walk several nights will be spent under canvas. Alternatively there are touring companies who do walks along the Great Ocean walk and they ferry walkers from the staring points of the walk and back to the accommodation at the end of the day but their prices are extortionate, with self guided walks costing around $300 per person per day and guided tours costing around $500 per day, which means a couple doing a self guided walk, will be paying about $600 per day for a room and a short bus ride..
Halls Gap - Grampians Walks
The Grampians (and Halls Gap) is the Mecca for walkers with dozens of walks of differing degrees of difficulty and lengths plus the region has a good range of accommodation making it easy and economical to go walking in the Grampians. Most of the published walks in the Grampians are short one day walks which start and end in Halls Gap but there are numerous walking tracks and it isn’t too hard to plan an itinerary for a longer walk. For instance a pleasant two day walk would be from Halls Gap to the orchard township of Pomonal via Redman track and return via Boronia Peak the next day .
Warrnambool - Koroit - Port Fairy Rail Trail
The Warrnambool - Koroit - Port Fairy rail trail is one of the better walks along the coast. All three locations have good accommodation, restaurants, cafe’s and pubs. The distance between Warrnambool and Koroit is around 18 kilometres and about 19 kilometres between Koroit and Port Fairy making it an ideal two day walk with a stop over in each town. Each town has good public transport so it is easy to just do one leg of the walk and catch the bus back to your starting point. There are no greedy tour companies try to rip anyone off, and the walk can be easily arranged by booking your own accommodation in each location. The rail trail is also a very popular one day bike trek.
Timboon Rail Trail
The Camperdown to Timboon Rail Trail runs for a total of about 40 kilometres and incorporates some pretty bush scenery in the last 11 kilometres of the trail, however the lack of accommodation at a mid point of the trail doesn’t make it suitable as a two day walk, in fact many walkers prefer to do the Glenfyne to Timboon section as a short walk. The trail is more popular as a one day bike track, however the Timboon end of the trail does have limited transport and accommodation. There are plans to extend the trail a further 18km to the Port Campbell National Park which should dramatically improve its appeal to walkers.