It was nearing the end of the summer school holidays. I was in Apollo Bay with my family and was desperate for a hike. I had planned to do another leg of the great ocean walk but none of the shuttles lined up with the days I was free. That, combined with the lethargic hangover that comes with any relapse of my anxiety disorder, meant I didn’t think I’d have the energy to walk more then 5km.
Last visit, Seth and I had walked from Shelly Beach to Marengo and had thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I was particularly fascinated by the flora on the short walk down to the beach and had noticed on my map that there was a longer walk in the area. I made note to check it out next time. Fortunately, the Best Walks of the Great Ocean Road book had *just* come out so we decided to turn this into a leisurely loop.
Walking To The River
On our previous trip we saw this sign and turned left, walking towards Shelly Beach. And, as you can read in that trip report, the rainforest part of that walk was truly magnificent.
The walk from the car park to the river was much quicker then I would have liked. I loved it. There was a lot of variation in moss and lichen; I could have taken 90 minutes to walk this short bit as it was so fascinating. Alas, the lure of the river awaited. I loved how as we got closer and closer we could see parts of the ocean sneaking through. This was beautiful and reminded me of my parker inlet approach; really makes my heart sing.
I also enjoyed the contrast between this walk and the track to Shelly Beach. The forest was a lot more dry, and it was shorter. It also opened up to a completely different environment, whereas Shelly Beach just led to rockpools and beaches.
The river was a major reason that Seth wanted to do the walk. He is more used to the river/creek mouths in more open areas such as barham river and wild dog creek. He LOVED that there were rocks to cross and skinks to find.
Personally, I love the rainforest and have *finally* decided to start learning about plants so wanted to learn as much as possible. We spent over an hour here; Seth looking for animals and me getting distracted by the flora.
Further up the stream was Elliot Falls, which I got to see briefly from the platform as we were walking down the river. The vegetation near the platform partially obscured the view. The steps down to the river was a little bit slippery so watch your step!
The river itself was easy to cross. There were large stones (pictured) that make it easy to cross without getting your feet wet. We spent over an hour here just looking for fish, skinks and crabs. I got distracted photographing the orange lichen. We loved it and it is a worthwhile place to visit without doing the rest of the river loop.
You can walk to the beach from here and the coastline did look beautiful, but the book and a sign warned of sudden waves. I mad the decision to stick further away from the ocean, seeing as I was unfamiliar with the area.
Doing The Rest Of The Loop
Eventually, it got to 12.45. We’d agreed to meet my parents at 2.30 so had planned to quickly walk the rest to compensate for the time spent at the river. In retrospect, this was a shit decision.
There was steep steps to get out of the valley/gully, which reminded me very much of the walk out of Parker Inlet. Unlike those, these were unrelenting. It felt like it never stopped. And, when we got past the steps there was still a lengthy steep part of a km or so. I struggled so hard during this part of the walk. I was gasping for breath and leaning against flimsy trees way too often to attempt to catch it. I didn’t have the chance to rest properly though as we had the deadline. Seth struggled a lot during it, and wished we hadn’t started it. I told him that if we retraced our steps we’d still have a steep part on the other side of the river and we were half way there anyway.
I may have underestimated and regretted that decision. It got even just before the elliot ridge campsite where, thankfully, it was mostly even for the rest of the walk.
The rest of the walk was quite beautiful and it was a shame we had to rush. It reminded me of other walks I’ve done, like Triplet Falls, where you are surrounded by huge gums and beautiful ferns. I could have spent a lot longer here photographing. It was also just past this area where the fauna got more interesting; we started to find more cicadas, craneflies and other critters.
Want to see examples of the flora? Check out my other post, Flora, Fungi And Moss From The Elliot River Loop.
We hit the river two other times but they were obscured views and we couldn’t get close. At least, I wasn’t willing to walk through 4m of grass on a hot day.
Eventually, we got the part where it started going slightly uphill. This was tolerable. I’ve become so unfit over the past year that I struggle with hills, even going down them. The suburb I have moved to is flat so my muscles have become used to it. I was able to do this part quite quickly, despite being unfit.
We got to the main road which was about 400 m from shelley beach. I didn’t like this part and felt it was a bit dangerous. We only encounted one driver in each direction, but it was still a bit worrying. There wasn’t always the best visibility for the cars.
It is a great way to sample multiple ecosystems along the great ocean road without having to do a longer leg of the great ocean walk. We encountered a couple of people walking to the river but very few beyond that. I loved the isolation, especially compared to maits rest which is just packed with rushed tourists. If you are a nature lover you will need to take it slow to fully appreciate the experience. There are hidden gems at multiple levels. It is well worth doing but if you are turning it into an adventure, allocate more than 3 and a half hours.
- I’ve done other walks labelled as moderate and this was the most difficult I’ve done. You may need frequent breaks if your fitness levels are low and you haven’t done any steep walks lately.
- The walk was described as giving welcoming shade on hot days. While there is a lot of shady bits, there is enough exposed areas that you can still get quite sunburnt and dehydrated.
- There may not be enough to sustain a childs attention while doing this walk. It may even be worth just going down to the river and retracing your steps, if that is what they are interested in.