Roughly 92% of the Cathedral Range State Park (including the visitor facilities at Sugarloaf Saddle) were burnt by the February 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. All the roads and walking trails in the park are now closed. Parks Victoria have indicated that the park will be progressively reopened from December 2009.
Some sections (between Starling Gap and Ada No2 Mill Site, and along the Latrobe River) have had their signs removed or vandalised. The trail is also quite overgrown in places. In wet weather leeches are a real problem. I reckon the trail needs some serious maintenance and new signage before it disappears into the bush for good.
This walk has changed very little over the last few years. Unfortunately, the continuing dry conditions has reduced even the largest pools of water to little more than puddles. There is still plenty of water available (much of the river now trickles under the pebbles) but do remember to take a filter kit. In the warmer months there are large numbers of red belly black snakes which seem to feed upon smaller prey, which are forced into using the small number of waterholes. The gorge has taken a real hammering over the course of the last ten dry years and many of the shade trees (the wattles) have either died or have lost most of their leaves. Large areas of blanket-leaves and hazel pomaderris have vanished. This spring (2009) the river has been occasionally flowing, which has been really wonderful.
IMPORTANT UPDATE (Spring 2009): All of the original EMERGENCY SIGNPOSTS in the gorge have been replaced with new EMERGENCY MARKERS by ESTA (Emergency Services and Telecommunications Authority). Of major concern, however, is that the original numbering has been changed. The old (original) numbering is in use in a number of available publications, including two of our own books and in the very popular Lerderderg and Werribee Gorges Meridian map. Walkers using our guides and the Meridian map must not confuse the original numbering with the new numbering. Please download the following PDF which spells out all the changes and even includes the Emergency Markers GPS coordinates: LERDERDERG STATE PARK EMERGENCY MARKERS
The Great Dividing Trail is closed (due to the February 2009 bushfires) south of Daylesford between Jubilee Hill and Leonards Hill Road. This is currently effecting about 8km of the trail. Note: There is a bus service running on a 12 month trial between Blackwood and Bacchus Marsh on Fridays. The bus leaves Bacchus Marsh at 2.15pm and arrives in blackwood at 2.50pm. It leaves Blackwood on Friday at 9.05am and gets to Bacchus March at 9.40am. You can connect to both the Melbourne and Ballarat trains.
Golden Spring is closed for renovation.
The only slight change is between Durdidwarrah Road and Lease Road (p47). There are a few confusing tracks intersecting each other around here and Parks Victoria has provided some better markers.
Most of the walk as described is fairly accurate although there is a bit of confusion resulting in some trail and track realignments on the final section Aireys Inlet (Painkalac Creek) to Moggs Creek on p35. The following is an entirely new description and is accurate as for September 2009.
SPLIT POINT LIGHTHOUSE Continue along the main walking trail which passes the lighthouse keepers cottage and descends down to a toilet block and a turnoff left leading down to the mouth of Painkalak Creek and the lagoon. Cross the creek on the sandbar (usually dry) and walk west along the beach. After 1.4km you will reach the Fairhaven Surf Lifesaving Club and the bitumen road that provides boat launching access to the beach. Walk up the road to the Great Ocean Road where you will find toilets and a V/Line bus stop. Nearby is the Sunset Bar (attached to the lifesaving club). Cross the road with care and walk north along gravelled Yarringa Road. After 450m you will reach Forest Road turnoff. Stay on Yarringa Road for a further 30m to where it hairpins back towards the beach (and becomes Lialeeta Road). At this point a sandy (and soon very eroded) vehicle track heads off left (north) into the bush. It also seems to be a popular bridal path. Follow the track as it winds up through coastal scrub passing some spectacular grass trees. After 770m the track emerges on to the heath at the crest of the ridge at a crossroads. There is a Surf Coast walk sign and another sign pointing the way to Moggs Creek. Follow the track northwest down the hill to Old Coach Road.
OLD COACH ROAD Turn right and walk 200m to turn left into Gentle Annie Track. Walk a further 1km to an intersection of tracks. Turn left and enter the bush at a Parks Victoria gate proclaiming this to be private property but that walkers may enter. The track soon becomes a pleasant walking trail as it descends steadily for 1km through open bushland to emerge at Boyd Avenue (the main gravelled road leading to Moggs Creek Picnic Area). Turn right and walk a further 450m to the picnic area, a lovely quiet spot with picnic tables scattered among the trees. Definitely the place for a gourmet lunch.
Check out the further details on http://www.surfcoast.vic.gov.au/walkingtracks.htm
The walk described in the book ends at Johanna Beach after 57km. The walk now extends as far as Glenample Homestead (91km). There are plans to take the walk even further at some point in the future. The walk must be booked and campsites paid for. Unlike when I researched the walk for the book, the Great Ocean Walk is now much better signposted and the trail much easier to follow. On a sightly different issue, the walk still suffers from far too many vehicle track and road bashes. This greatly diminishes what could have been a world class walk had more effort been placed into constructing dedicated trails. Hopefully the powers that be recognise that this is best described as a great walk flawed and hopefully that they have plans to improve it.
The Great Ocean walk web site: http://www.greatoceanwalk.com.au/index.php/GOW/
An Information and Map Guide is available for purchase from the Parks Victoria Information Centre on 13 1963 or at one of the local Visitor Information Centres. (Refer to the listing on the Great Ocean Walk web site for contact details.) Signs are located along the walk as a guide and indicate decision point locations. Topographical maps can be obtained at Information Victoria.
Apollo Bay to Elliot Ridge hike-in Campsite (9.9km)
The walk now starts on the Apollo Bay Foreshore. There is a high tide alternative over Bald Hill.
The campsite at Elliot Ridge is now complete.
Elliot Ridge hike-in campsite to Blanket Bay hike-in campsite (11.6km)
Unfortunately the link trail between Parker Spur Road and Telegraph Track never eventuated and walkers are condemned to walking along the vehicle tracks. There is now a dedicated campsite at Blanket Bay for those on the Great Ocean Walk.
Blanket Bay hike-in campsite to Cape Otway hike-in campsite (10.5km)
The proposed trail linking Blanket Bay and Parker Hill Campground is open. Unfortunately walkers still have to bash along the Lighthouse Road to Cape Otway Lighthouse. There is now a dedicated campsite not far beyond the Cape Otway Lighthouse for those on the Great Ocean Walk.
Cape Otway hike-in campsite to Aire River hike-in campsite (9.7km)
The trail along the clifftops has had some minor realignments. There is now a dedicated campsite above the river (50m up into the trees) for those on the Great Ocean Walk.
Aire River hike-in campsite to Johanna hike-in campsite (13.6km)
The trail is now very obvious and is clearly signposted all the way to Johanna Beach. There are a couple of boot cleaning stations beyond Castle Cove. There is now a dedicated campsite at Johanna Beach for those on the Great Ocean Walk.
The following three sections were not described in the book.
Johanna hike-in campsite to Ryans Den hike-in campsite (12.4km)
Ryans Den hike-in campsite to Devils Kitchen hike-in campsite (15.3km)
Devils Kitchen hike-in campsite to Glenample homestead (12.9km)