After almost a month in Victoria, Australia, I have quite a backlog of content coming up for you guys. Let’s start with a nice overview of Geelong and the Great Ocean Road region that you can enjoy for free, or close to it, on foot or bicycle.
Whether you are a history buff, naturalists, hiker, biker, love arts & culture, or simply want to figure out the lay of the land, there are enough options to fill up an entire month wandering around the region.
Starting in Geelong, the Knowing Your Place Neighborhood Walks are great for history buffs.
Lake Lorne Mindfulness Walk
1km loop around the lake with six rest spots for meditation. The word ‘Bellarine’ means ‘resting spot’. The Wadawurrung people are the traditional owners of this land. They sourced their medicine and food from the land and you can still see signs of burial sites, camps sites, and remnants of tools and weapons they used.
The Norman Lane Heritage Walk
Corio and North Geelong’s history is that of an industrial town with plenty of jobs, which led to a post-WW2 housing boom for their many factory workers. The region was home to Federal Woollen Mills, Shell Oil Refinery, Australian Cement Company, Ford’s Australian HQ, among several other companies. This walk takes you around a 1.7km section of Norlane, named after Norman Lane, the first serviceman from Corio to die in WW2. Along the way you will see examples of the imported European prefab houses that were installed during the housing boom, and your walk will end at Labuan Square, a former swamp turned shopping mall.
North Shore Neighborhood Walk
When Europeans arrived arrived in 1837, the Wadawurrung Balug clan were pushed off their land onto reserves. The clan initially had 300 people but were decimated by battles and disease until only 17 remained. Willem Baa Nip, also known as King Billy or William Gore, was the last full blooded member of the clan. He was highly respected as the negotiator for his clan with Europeans until his death in 1885. Industrial development of the area started in the 1920s and North Shore is now home to almost 200 households. The North Shore Neighborhood walk will take you 2.1km from Moorpanyal Park to Karndoor-Kapa. If you wish to continue from here, the Norlane Corio Cycle/Walk Loop provides 18km of trails surrounding Norlane, Corio, and North Shore.
Cowies Creek Environmental Loop
This is the naturalists walk! Most of the land around the creek was sold for industry and agriculture by 1849, but revegetation began in the mid 70s. Along this route you will see several species used by the Aboriginal people for food and medicine, like the Seaberry Salt Bush, Hop Goodenia, Bull Rush, Moonah Tree, and Australia’s national flower, the Golden Wattle. The wetland is home to six different species of frog, including the Growling Grass Frog. The walk begins at Fountain of Friendship Park and makes a 3km loop around the creek, where it ends at the Corio Bowl Skate Park.
If you want to venture out further on foot or by bike, you can do all or part of the Great Ocean Walk or bike one or more of ten Great Ocean Rides.
Whether you are a beginner or a pro, there is something for everyone. From less than 3km to almost 150km, gains in elevation from 0 to over 2,000 meters, and everything in between, you can find something to fit your skill and fitness level. I wasn’t able to find a website dedicated to these rides, but if you want more information, you can contact Tourism Greater Geelong & the Bellarine or contact me with questions. I have a nice pamphlet that outlines the rides including length, difficulty level, change in elevation, and road safety levels for all ten rides.
Finish your trip with a bang, with an eight day hike of the iconic Great Ocean Road!
The full Ocean Road Walk takes eight days and you will need to book your accommodations in advance, whether you stay in a resort, lodge, or a campsite. Beginning at Apollo Bay and stretching for over 100km to the Twelve Apostles, you are sure to experience some rare and remote beauty.
If you don’t go with a guide, download the Great Ocean Walk Audio Stories app. I went with a guide (in a vehicle, not on foot!) who told great stories about shipwrecks, lighthouses, the logging industry, and the construction of the Great Ocean Road. You don’t want to miss out on the fascinating regional history, and the app is free. It’s a good idea to take a guide book and map, too. Or you can book a guide for the walk, and they will manage the planning, transportation, food, and accommodations, if you don’t want to deal with all that yourself.
In addition to the history, you are likely to see some great wildlife. Kangaroos, koalas, colorful birds, and depending on the time of year and day you are there, whales, seals, and penguins. The koalas can be hard to spot because they tend to stay really high up in the trees, so really look out for them. It is so exciting the first time you spot one!
For more information, check out the Great Ocean Walk website!
If you don’t want to walk for 8 days, you can walk for one day, or a few days. Or you can do it the way I did, and book a guided one-day tour by minibus, and you will definitely still enjoy it (especially if you book with Jeremy @ Geelong Adventure Specialists!), but walking will allow you to disconnect from the world for awhile, which is important to do.
Let me know if you have done or plan on doing any of these activities by leaving a comment. I would love to hear about your experience and answer any questions you have!