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The Great Ocean Walk: Realisation of a Dream

Margaret Margaret II                                                         

After watching 'The Art of Walking: Great Ocean Walk' (1), keen NZ Nordic walker Margaret Hudson dreamed of walking the 104kms from Apollo Bay to the Twelve Apostles. Ten months later, she flew to Australia to realize that dream.

Margaret's itinerary was arranged by Walk 91 (2), specialists in Great Ocean Walk self guided journeys, with luggage transferred to each night's accommodation and all meals provided, together with a comprehensive map, detailed track notes, personal emergency locator beacon, cell phone and pictures of the meeting points with her 'shuttle service' each afternoon.

Nordic walking poles proved invaluable negotiating the sandy beaches, muddy eucalypt forests, estuaries, rocky platforms, heath land and coastal woodland. "Over five days I climbed 1200 hand built stone steps," said Margaret, "and on the steep ascent from Milanesia Beach to Ryan's Den wooden staircases zig-zaged their way upward into the inland forest - assistance Dr Charles Ryan would have appreciated after breaking his leg in the 1900s and taking four days to crawl his way up to the ridge."

For those with limited time the most popular section of the track is from Milanesia Beach, named after a large sailing ship stranded in the shallows for over a week in 1902, to the Gables Lookout - a 16km walk with sensational views. Yet walking the full length of the track provided Margaret with a myriad of memories to treasure. "The elation I felt on the last day, walking from the shipwrecked anchors embedded in the sands of a deserted Wreck Beach across the cliff tops with their breathtaking views of the Twelve Apostles was incredible. At the end, making my way through the crowds of tourists posing for pictures, when someone asked, 'how far have you walked' and I replied, 'all the way,' people spontaneously clapped.

Upon reflection Margaret says, "If you can walk a half marathon comfortably, maintaining that level of stamina over several months, you'll enjoy the walk. The time of year is important - just after Christmas the temperatures were in the high 20s on some days and that was hot enough. But most importantly take lots of fluid - around 3 litres of water each day with 'Leppin' or 'Replace' added - together with a supply of jubes or their equivalent. Finally, remember to take a battery charger for your camera as you'll be taking lots of photos."

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Story supplied and edited by Margaret Hudson

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