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Cape Liptrap Coast Walk (p132)

Storm approaching Cape Liptrap. Karen, Alley and Stuart looking on.

An early low tide coincided with a fine Sunday so Stuart and Ally joined Karen and I to walk along the coast between Cape Liptrap and Five Mile Track. This is the first day of a two-day walk I wrote up in our Weekend Walks Around Melbourne some years ago and since then there have been a few changes. Because of its increasing popularity I’ve also decided to write it up and provide a free GPS download in our forthcoming Daywalks Around Victoria.

The walk around from Cape Liptrap is simply amazing. We scrambled along wave-cut platforms, over rocky points and wandered along broad pebbly beaches. It’s a genuinely wild place and is a photographers paradise. High cliffs tumbled into the the sea, which roared in conjunction with a strengthening southerly wind. We had a gourmet lunch in shelter of a small cove, the Sauvignon Blanc having been successfully chilled in a vacuum flask. The weather Gods obviously felt we were enjoying ourselves too much and by the time we reached Morgan Beach we could see the southern horizon darkening with heavy cloud. Finally the sun disappeared and the first squall hit us as we were crossing the limestone escarpment opposite Arch Rock. We were quickly engulfed in heavy winds and driving rain. After about 20 minutes the clouds parted and the final beach walk along to Five Mile Track saw us soaking up the warmth of the sun.

Changes, Corrections and Additions:

The accurate distance between Cape Liptrap Carpark and Five Mile Carpark is 16.3km. It is a further 2.6km (a total of 18.9km) along Five Mile Track (4WD) to the carpark at the start of Five Mile Track on the Tarwin Lower – Waratah Road.

Five Mile Track no longer goes all of the way to the beach. A new grassy carpark (some nice tent sites can be found here) is located 800m back from the dunes. Five Mile Track is a designated 4WD track but in good (dry) conditions it would no problems for a light SUV or all wheel drive vehicle to access.

Looks like Parks Victoria never got around to formalising the two-day walk from Cape Liptrap to Venus Bay. Perhaps no bureaucrat wanted to risk promoting a walk with a tide dependant section of coastline (of course walkers cannot be trusted to look up the tide times and take some responsibility for their own actions). Parks Victoria have recognised the need for a camping area though and a small grassy spot exists about 300m back from the beach (big enough for half a dozen small tents). There are no facilities here.

Finding the start of the 2.8km cliff-top trail from Morgan Beach is now much easier. A sandy path can be seen heading up between the rocks, about 100m before Morgan Beach reaches the cliffs. There is no signpost but the way is fairly obvious. Up on top you will find yourself on the limestone escarpment. Continue walking northwards following a foot trail set not far back from the cliff-edge. The path is quite distinct as it winds through coastal wattle, heath and small dunes. This is a wonderful part of the walk and provides spectacular views across to various sea stacks and nearby Arch Rock.

The grid reference of the point you leave the beach to reach Five Mile Track is 55 H 402368 5706103. This point is unfortunately not signposted or marked in any way so you will need to keep an eye out for it. It is where a good walking trail cuts through the 2m-high dunes and heads inland.

20 thoughts on “Cape Liptrap Coast Walk (p132)

  1. Would you be able to confirm which beach you are referring to in this comment:

    “Parks Victoria have recognised the need for a camping area though and a small grassy spot exists about 300m back from the beach (big enough for half a dozen small tents).”

    Is it one of the beaches up around Venus Bay or is it further south?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Al. The campsite is at the end of 5 Mile Track further along the walking trail leading to the beach (to not allow vehicle access). The campsite is marked on the Parks Victoria Park Note Sheets: http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au/resources05/05_0593.pdf
      It is at coordinates: 55 H 402662 5706094
      Hope this helps.

  2. Hi All,
    just an update–tried 5 mile track on friday night and it is majorly rutted out–i would only attempt it in a proper 4wd now.

  3. Thanks Jay. I will make sure that we reword the description of the track as 4WD only (in our forthcoming Daywalks Around Victoria). When we were there it was very easy to negotiate but obviously it can change rapidly. Better to be safe than sorry. Thanks again.

  4. We’ve just got back from walking Cape Liptrap. Thanks Glenn for all your directions. This was a fairly challenging walk for us – although seasoned walkers, I found the rock scrambling hard work with a full pack, and it took us about an hour longer for the first segment to Morgans Beach than you suggested (perhaps because we left a bit after low tide so were faced with some incoming tidal challenges along the way).
    Next the foortrail from the top of Morgans Beach was poorly defined and was very hard to locate at times – this was probably due to the amount of rain over the last few months and the growth of the bushes.
    There is another walking trail about 500m before Five Mile Track which confused us for a while. Neither is marked other than with a small post. The right one is the second one and the campsite was very welcome.
    We walked through to Venus Bay. To do the walk we simply booked a taxi from Venus Bay to Cape Liptrap on Saturday morning – this worked very well.
    As you say, this walk is an amazing and beautiful wilderness. It was a challenge and an adventure, but I would recommend it! Thanks again.

  5. Hi Jeanette. Glad you had a great time on the walk. It really is an amazing stretch of coast. Very wild and spectacular. You are probably right about the rain and the effect it has had on the bush over the last few months. Many trails have quickly become overgrown. I also know what you mean about the confusing trails leaving the beach. We walked a few paces along the wrong one then came back, walked further along the beach and located the proper Five Mile trail. Other people have told me they too followed this wrong trail and that it has gotten more distinct as more people mistakenly walk along it. There really needs to be a signpost on the proper trail. I’ve even mentioned this in the description I wrote in my new Daywalks Around Victoria guide which went on sale just last week.

  6. Hi Glenn, Hoping that you can help, a group of us Photographers are heading down the Cape Triptrap at the end of March, We are hopeful to catch the sunset, what area do you suggest we can capture this from, also any areas of further interest to photograph…Thanks for your help….cheers Jan

    1. Hi Jan, Cape Liptrap is a wonderful place and is a photographer’s dream. You’ll really love the place. I must say that I have taken some great sunset images whle walking along the rocky beaches stretching along from Waratah Bay to Walkerville. You wouldn’t want to be caught out i the dark though! I also love the top of the cliffs immediately north of Cape Liptrap itself. You can gain access to this stretch of coast by walking 200m back along Cape Liptrap Road from the lighthouse carpark (passing a gate on the left). You’ll see a small walking trail turnoff into the scrub on your left. Follow this along to better and wider trails, a bit of an open area and a foot trail which which leaves the main track and descends steeply down to one of the most beautiful boulder beaches in the area. This is a great place to photograph. Have fun.

  7. Hi Glen,

    Great to read of the walks around Cape Liptrap by you and others. I’ve done 5 mile track in a 4WD and on Horseback…although some years ago and the Landcruisers duco was never the same! I’m interested in getting a copy of your book for guests who stay at my holiday rental property near Cape Liptrap. I often have people who are walkers but I don’t have such detailed info as you provided. Whats the best way to buy the book and did you include the 5 mile track walk in it? I love the coastline around the Cape and thought you or some of your followers may be interested in the accommodation ‘Lara at Liptrap’…we are just North of Morgans Beach. In case you want to check it out I’ve put in the FB link…I hope thats ok. http://www.facebook.com/Lara.at.Liptrap. cheers

    Lindy

  8. My wife and I attempted the Cape Liptrap Coastal walk just now (over the Melbourne cup weekend).

    Some observations which may be of use to other hikers attempting the walk:

    – Five Mile track (not marked as such on the road from Tarwin Lower to Walkerville, so you really have to watch out for a track) is now designated as “Road Closed”. It is no longer driveable – wouldn’t attempt it in a 4WD. I drove my Pajero all of 20 metres along it before deciding to pull out. Half of it was under water, knee deep (I walked Five Mile Track to the beach). The trail from the beach to the camp site is also under water (shin deep). For overnight campers not needing vehicle access, be warned that the path from the beach to the campsite may be under a lot of water that cannot be avoided. Summer months only it appears.

    – The access path from Cape Liptrap lighthouse to the beach is very steep and very overgrown. My wife and I had a very difficult time negotiating this. Wish I had a machete to cut away the overgrowth!

    – It is at least 5km to Morgans Beach from the start of the walk, not 3.5km as claimed in the book. My wife and I did 4.5km (as measured by my GPS watch) and Morgans Beach was still some distance away.

    – The walk to Morgans Beach (the first 3.5km as described in the book) is pretty difficult – walking on pebbled beaches is very tiring and difficult.

    I would upgrade the description of the walk from being Moderate (in the book) to Difficult.

    Am sure it would have been a nice walk (my wife and I ended up only doing the first 5km of the walk on Saturday, then turning back, and the next day doing a section at the end of the walk from Venus Bay and return), unfortunately the conditions were not right. Campers who are thinking about driving along Five Mile Track to set up camp then driving to the Lighthouse should forget it, the track is no longer trafficable.

    1. Thanks for the update Simon. Really appreciated. According to Parks Victoria Five Mile Track is ‘closed until further notice’ (http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/great-otway-national-park). It’s always been very wet during the winter months but it’s obviously got a lot worse. The access path from the lighthouse road to the beach was a little bushy (and steep at the end) but was never a real problem. Looks like things have changed. Not sure about the distance to Morgan Beach though. I’ve got 4km on my GPS notes to Morgan Beach but there are plenty of variables which could come into play. I measured the same distance on two occasions but your measurement of about 5km may in fact be right! As for the grading of the walk I must now agree (especially as you currently have to walk along Five Mile Track to finish, which would make it very tiring indeed). I suspect that as less people visit this remarkable stretch of coast the walking trail along the top of the limestone cliffs will also get a lot more difficult to follow. Unfortunately this is yet another example of a superb Victorian walk gradually returning to an unwalkable state. Such a shame.

      1. The Parks Victoria website reference is to the Great Otway National Park? Not Cape Liptrap?

        I rechecked the Parks Victoria website, there is no reference to Five Mile Track being closed (and is still included in their Parks Note – http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/314531/Park-note-Cape-Liptrap-Coastal-Park.pdf)

        I agree, could be a great walk, unfortunately I think this is a walk which is better not attempted.

        cheers

        Simon

  9. Hi Glenn, nice work. Made a quick mission down to Liptrap today unfortunately towards dusk so not enough time to explore. There was a nice swell rolling in with light SE winds, pristine down the southern end of the cape towards the lighthouse. Out of interest is there many nice surf setups along the western shores of the cape. Keen to get back down there, beautiful, unspoiled & quite part of the world What a cracker!??????????
    Cheers,
    Leeroy

    1. Hi Leeroy. Yes, there are some beautiful spots just west of the cape. Very rugged terrain before you get to Bear Gully.

  10. Hi Glenn, Cheers mate, surfed around bear gully to the west a long time back. Many options nor-east from the lighthouse up to Morgan’s beach? Looked like there was possibly a nice little righthander just NE of the lighthouse on Thursday but didn’t have enough time to check it out. Reminds me of the Eyre peninsula a little, definately
    looks to have some potential. I guess access is the problem but prepared to explore. Great part of the world down there

  11. Hi Glenn,

    I was wondering if you can tell me your estimated walk distance between Cape Liptrap lighthouse to Arch Rock. I estimate it to be about 7.5km, is this about right to you ? As a seasoned walker with a day pack, I estimate to take about 4-5 hours return moving time during low tide. Is this about right for you ? I am thinking of doing a return walk to Arch Rock next summer. I appreciate your advice. Thanks

  12. Hi Edwin. I thought it was about 8.5 to 9km. You will need to time your walk very carefully to match the low tide. I’m not really sure if it is possible as you will need a low tide on the outward journey (right at the start) and then a low tide on the return leg (right at the end). If you are moving quickly you may be okay. The walk is really enjoyable but note that the trail along the top of the limestone cliffs can be a bit intermittent (not that it is hard going). This is certainly one of the more remote coastal stretches in the area. Have fun.

  13. hi Glenn we would like to walk down the 5 mile track to Arch Rock how many kms would this be and would we have to take the tides into consideration and the appox time it would take .

    1. Hi Karen. The distance from the carpark at the end of Five Mile Track to Arch Rock is about 6.7km. Therefore a return walk would be 13.4km. Avoid hot days and you’ll have a great time.

    2. Hi Karen. A couple of the comments above seem to indicate that Five Mile Track is no longer open to vehicles. It is shown as open on the Parks Victoria site so it may be a good idea to call them and check first (otherwise you will add a further 2.6km to each leg of your walk).

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