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Walk 11 (Bells Beach and Ironbark Forest)

Timber steps leading down to Bells Beach.

The day had started with us dragging our two tired bodies, one old, one young, into the car for the trip to Bells Beach from Melbourne. We had both been looking forward to the hike, but ironically, we were both drained from hearing a Tibetan Buddhist teacher talk late into the previous night. The drive was full of jokes about attachment and illusion.

Being an inexperienced walker, and having been given elaborate instructions about tide times, offshore winds, and our proposed route only being passable in optimal conditions (low tide, calm seas), I had anxiously calculated times for each leg of our journey. Surprisingly, we arrived at our departure point, Bells Beach car park within minutes of the optimal time for getting our beach crossing safely.

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Surf Coast Walk (p28)

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.

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