My feet are sore, but it’s a good kind of sore, after our 22 kilometer hike on Victoria’s Great Ocean Walk. I’m happily dry and comfy sipping tea at the Great Ocean Ecolodge, located on a flat plain where in the distance a herd of kangaroos are munching on grass. My guide Greg Denney and I set out at about 9 and in the first ten minutes, spotted a swamp wallaby in the bush. It’s not the woods, he told me, it’s the bush, and it’s not lumber they cut, it’s timber. Gotta get the Aussie vernacular right!
The walk took us over a muddy former logging road and later back into the woods. Towing eucalyptus trees with bark hanging down were the mainstay of the forest, and in places, deep cover of waist-high ferns. Then some ferns the size of a human, looking like they were out of Jurassic Park. It wasn’t long before we spotted another common animal here, koalas, who sat sleeping up in the trees, or occasionally munching on leaves. These creatures were so docile that we reached up and pet one, and posed happily for photos as we got as close as two feet.
As we walked on the trail wound its way over to the top of towering cliffs, and far down below the ocean waves crashed on a deserted shore. Shipwrecks were very common here and on one beach we came upon several pieces of wood that were part of a ship that came over from the US to carry materials that were to be exhibited at the Great Exposition of 1880 in Melbourne. But the crowds never got to see them since the ship splintered apart on the rocks.
The only people we saw all day were when we stopped into a hut at Blanket Bay. There a group of eight university girls were on the second day of their seven-day trek down the trail. They were studying tourism and travel, a popular major and attended Latrobe University in Victoria. They were well prepared, with a box of wine, about to settle into their campsites for the night.
They told a funny story about how they went skinny dipping here and their clothes began to get washed away by the waves. They gingerly made their way back to camp, much to the delight of a few male hikers who happened to be passing by at such an opportune hour.
We hiked on, and on, and past more dramatic scenes where a river met the shore and followed the blue markers that clearly point the hikers in the right direction. After passing more koalas, and beginning to feel the heat on my feet, I was relieved when Greg told me that we only had a half kilometer left in the day’s walk. A spot of tea, dry socks and a chance to share it all with you makes my day complete.