Great South West Walk
We showcase dramatic sections of the Great South West Walk and its amazingly diverse scenery, from rugged sea cliffs and remote beaches littered with shells to the beautiful seclusion of Cape Nelson lighthouse. Not to mention the prolific wildlife and a staggering variety of seasonal orchids and wildflowers which enhance the forest floor.
We would love for you to join us on our 5-day Great South West Walk tour to discover for yourself the unique biodiversity of the area.
Get ready for
- Wild dramatic coastline, white secluded beaches
- Migrating whales between June and September
- Spot Australian and New Zealand fur seals
- Visit Australia’s only mainland gannet colony
- Walk through a petrified forest and secluded bushlands
- Emus, kangaroos, koalas, echidnas and birdlife
- 6,600 year-old UNESCO World Heritage listed Budj Bim
As well as being accompanied by our highly experienced RAW Travel guide you will enjoy a tour of UNESCO listed Budj Bim Cultural Landscape with a local Aboriginal guide to provide interesting insights. We were fascinated to learn of a symphony called “Discovery” by Australian composer and avid bushwalker Dindy Vaughan. “Sea Cliffs” is part of the symphony reflecting on the formation of the ancient volcanic landscapes of Budj Bim. Standing atop soaring sea-cliffs at Bridgewater Bay looking back at a perfect crescent-shaped beach sitting on the rim of a long extinct volcano is one of the highlights of the walk.
On the trail
The Great South West Walk is a winding track which follows the contours around the coastal headlands. On occasions you will walk down to isolated beaches and across soft sand and then walk up the other side over steps on a well-marked track that has been constructed and managed with your safety in mind. Some sections involve walking in quite exposed areas next to the ocean so you can expect windy weather.You can expect to walk between 4 and 8 hours each day with regular stops to take in the natural beauty, and for snacks and lunch.
We will base ourselves in Portland for 4 nights in a beautifully restored Victorian-style inn built in 1856. The hotel has been tastefully restored and boasts original heritage decor with all the comforts of modern luxury for you to appreciate after a day on the trail.
TRANSFER FROM MELBOURNE TO PORTLAND; TOUR OF WORLD HERITAGE LISTED BUDJ BIM
Our day starts with a 7:15–7:30am pick up from the Melbourne Arts Centre, St Kilda Road in Melbourne. We will travel via Colac and Camperdown – stopping for morning tea along the way, then onwards to Warrnambool and Port Fairy to break for lunch. Stretch your legs and enjoy the town’s charming ambience with a quick walk around the beautiful tree-lined streets.
After lunch we head to Lake Condah where we walk as guests on Gunditjmara country. Our 2.5-hour guided tour of UNESCO World Heritage listed Budj Bim Cultural Landscape site allows us to experience the landscape, history and 60,000+ year-old culture through the eyes of expert Indigenous guides. The site is older than Egypt’s pyramids and the first site in Australia to be offered protection purely for its Aboriginal cultural importance; its aquaculture system dates back over 6,600 years.
We arrive in Portland around 5pm to check into our beautifully renovated historic hotel in the heart of town. Dinner is at 7pm where we will give you a general overview of the tour including safety information and details of the next day’s walk.
Meals: L, D
WALK TELEGRAPH RD TO BRIDGEWATER LAKES (17KM/5.5 HOURS)
An enjoyable first day that begins among the unspoiled bushland of Mount Richmond National Park. The park was established in 1960 and is home to around 450 plant species including 50 different orchid species. The Gunditjmara called the region Benwerrin, meaning ‘Long Hill’ and once gathered a wide variety of food from the area. In spring there are stunning displays of wildflowers including correa, coastal heaths and wattles. The diverse habitat also supports vibrant bird-life including emus, Crimson rosellas, Gang-gang cockatoos, thornbills, robins and currawongs.
After enjoying beautiful views from the summit, the path widens onto flat open trails allowing for easy hiking; make sure you keep a look out for kangaroos, koalas, echidnas and wallabies. We cross Bridgewater Lakes Road to enter a small section of quiet secluded bushland before crossing an ‘interesting stile’. From here the trail takes us high over farmland with great views over the Bridgewater freshwater lake system through to the blue-green water of Discovery Bay.
Meals: B, L, D
WALK BRIDGEWATER LAKES TO CAPE BRIDGEWATER (18KM/6 HOURS)
We start the day with a short climb to the mouth of Tarragal Caves, a network of ancient limestone caves within the Discovery Bay Coastal Park overlooking Bridgewater Lakes. From here a gentle walk through sand hills brings us to the beginning of a remarkable day’s walk featuring an astounding display of diverse natural beauty. We will enjoy sensational cliff-top walking, two large seal colonies, a surreal petrified forest, ocean blowholes, kangaroos, pristine lakes and remote rugged coastline. We follow a rugged coastline where it seems you never put your camera away – the views are glorious! So have your cameras ready to capture the endless juggernaut of waves crashing onto the rocks below.
We arrive at a moonscape of petrified trees where we will break for lunch, allowing you time to appreciate the views and explore this fascinating area. The walk after lunch is just as remarkable with more glorious coastline and plenty of photo opportunities including the aptly named ‘Perilous Parapet’. As we walk towards Cape Bridgewater look out for a local mob of kangaroos who usually keep a close eye on things. The trail takes us to some of the highest coastal cliffs in Victoria (130m) past two seal colonies – Australian and New Zealand fur seals who interestingly do not mingle even though they live in close proximity to each other. With several viewing platforms you can search for seals and take advantage of the magnificent uninterrupted views over deep-blue water to the horizon.
We end our day with a beautiful dinner just for us at the Cape Nelson Lighthouse.
Meals: B, L, D
WALK CAPE BRIDGEWATER TO CAPE NELSON LIGHTHOUSE (23KM/7.5 HOURS)
A gorgeous walk from Cape Bridgewater leads us along the hard flat wide open shores of Shelly Beach. The coastline is alive with birdlife including Pied Oystercatchers, Sandpipers, Hooded Plovers, Terns and Pacific gulls; there are shells galore to admire and name. The mostly pristine beach is subject to small patches of debris bought in by strong tides and coastal storms, so bring a bag if you’d like to beach-comb for litter along the way.
The trail then diverts inland through low coastal scrub along easy trails, it’s a nice change and a good spot to enjoy a snack in tucked away seclusion. We emerge again onto the beach where we pass an interesting age-old rocky outcrop standing sentinel like – you can feel its ancient energy reaching back in time. The sand can be a little soft in places but the walking is pleasant, it is possible to take your shoes off and appreciate ‘grounding’ with the earth.
We leave the beach and climb a sturdy wooden stairway to the top of the spectacular sea cliffs. There are spectacular views over the Southern Ocean. After a pretty grove of coastal Tea trees and crossing Murrells Rd, the trail becomes more rugged as we begin our final walk to Cape Nelson Lighthouse.
Meals: B, L, D
MORNING VISIT TO GANNET COLONY, RETURN DRIVE TO MELBOURNE
This morning we will visit Australia’s only mainland gannet colony at Point Danger Coastal Reserve just a few kilometres from Portland. These striking birds can have a wingspan of up to 2 metres and dive fully submerged into the ocean in search of prey. We will stop for breaks en route to Melbourne and arrive back by late afternoon.
- 4-nights 4-star accommodation in historic Portland
- All meals (excluding lunch on Day 5)
- Return transfers to/from Melbourne
- Refreshment stops during walks
- Experienced hiking guide
- Tour of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Budj Bim
- Driver and support vehicle for the duration of tour
- Exclusive RAW Travel Cape Nelson Lighthouse dinner
- National Park fees
- Travel insurance
- Items of a personal nature
- Alcoholic beverages – not included in your package, but can be put on tab and settled with staff at the end of your stay
Discover Australia’s best coastal walk! Our comprehensive destination guide is bursting with inspiration, travel essentials, practical advice and more to help you prepare for a memorable journey along this breathtaking trail.
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