The Great South West track has got to be Victoria’s best kept secret – a 250km continuous loop track that includes a pristine environment, dramatic isolated coastlines, the joy of walking beside a meandering river and remote bushland full of wildlife, bird and native flowers.
This unforgettable experience winds around 3 of the most remote National Parks, through hardwood forests, aboriginal heritage sites, the mighty Southern Ocean and vast sand dunes, freshwater lakes, stunning Bridgewater Bay all amongst a diversity of fauna and flora.
This walk is promoted as a “Symphony in Four Movements” which are depicted beautifully in this magnificent video of the walk.
The first stage is the Cobboboonee Forest containing the headwaters of the Surry and Fitzroy Rivers. Kangaroos often bound across the track and be delighted by the shrieks of rare red-tailed black cockatoos.
Next comes the picturesque Glenelg River, a haven for walkers, fishermen and canoeists. The river stretches out as it nears the coast and then carves its way through a spectacular limestone gorge.
Onto the pristine sandy beaches and rocky outcrops of Discovery Bay Coastal Park and freshwater lakes that offer great swimming. Followed by an ascent over Mt Richmond, a small peak boasting about 450 different species of plants.
The grand finale is the Three Capes and Bays section where the track clings to the cliff top all the way. These rugged, wave-bashed headlands are perfect for whale spotting in season and the colony of Australian fur seals at Cape Bridgewater is there year-round. The coast offers blow holes, a “Petrified Forest” and an “Enchanted Walk” where vines of bower spinach are decoratively draped over limestone boulders and twisted moonah trees.
And if you think 250km is just too far to walk, don’t worry, we are also offering a shorter 8 day itinerary featuring the main highlights of the track.
This trip starts and finishes in Portland. It’s a 5 hour drive from Melbourne. If you prefer, you can fly to Portland from either Melbourne or Adelaide. There are also public transport services from Melbourne – contact us for more details.
70% easy, 20% moderate and 10% more challenging. 20-25km (5.5-7 hours) walking each day. Long distances on easy terrain with almost no hills. If you choose to do the entire track, there are a few beach sections that can be quite challenging at high tide.
For more detailed information including daily walk distances and times please download our Fact Sheet below.
B&Bs and cottages. Note that, due to the remoteness of the area, there are only three suitable accommodation places en route – Portland, Nelson and Bridgewater Bay. We will arrange for you to be transported to/from the next section of track as required. Also, note that there are shared bathrooms in Nelson, but we’re sure you’ll love the place – it’s a delightful, charming, historic
12 nights accommodation, 12 breakfasts, 11 lunches, 5 dinners, luggage transfers, vehicle transfers required for the itinerary, National Park fees, insulated lunch bag, maps, map case & info pack.
Alcohol, meals not listed in itinerary, drinks with meals (except tea/coffee and juice with breakfast).
This walk can be done any time of the year except for the winter months of June, July and August. September to April is the pick of the year for walking. Sea breezes usually keep the temperatures comfortable in summer although there can be period of quite hot weather, especially during February.
Warning about tide times – choose your start date carefully!
This walking holiday includes some sections of beach walking, so you need to take into account the tide times when choosing a starting date. 0.7 metres is the maximum tide height you would want. The most likely times for problems to arise are:
Day 7 (only the AM, after that you leave the beach on a track)
Day 8 (you will be on the beach all day)
Day 11 (the middle of the day will cause the greatest problem)
Check the tide charts online: Go to the Bureau of Meteorology
and select your location as Portland and go from there. We can assist in the office if you are having trouble understanding the charts.
The coast is noted for its fabulous fresh fish and the area produces a lot of dairy products.
Starts in Portland any time after 2pm. No walking scheduled for today, but best to allow some time to explore the town area and foreshore.
The track commences in Portland on it’s 250km circuit. Today starts with the Portland Lighthouse and coastal cliffs before heading inland across farmland then into the bush.
A bush day today in the recently proclaimed Cobboboonee National Park. Wildlife abounds.
Another day through the Cobboboonee National Park. Highlights include the Inkpot and pretty Moleside Creek. You’ll be met here at the end of the day and taken on to new accommodation at Nelson.
Today you’ll begin the picturesque Glenelg River section of GSWW, hiking from Moleside Creek to Sapling Creek.
A real highlight today as you progress through the Glenelg River Gorge and continue to follow the river all the way into the settlement of Nelson.
To the beach today. You’ll spend the morning following the sandy beach of Discovery Bay. For the afternoon, the track heads inland parallel to the coast, to emerge at a huge freshwater lake.
A full day on the beach today, hiking from Lake Mombeong to Swan Lake, another large freshwater lake. These lakes are a delightful place for a refreshing dip at the end of the day. On to new accommodation tonight.
Accommodation: Bridgewater Bay
To the beach today. You’ll spend the morning following the sandy beach of Discovery Bay. For the afternoon, the track heads inland parallel to the coast, to emerge at yet another huge freshwater lake.
Begin the Three Capes Section of track today. Highlights include the Blowholes, the Petrified Forest and a seal colony. The track hugs the cliff the entire way and photo opportunities abound. Walk in to your accommodation at Bridgewater Bay.
Accommodation: Bridgewater Bay
From Bridgewater Bay the route continues via the beach then cliff top track to Cape Nelson Lighthouse. There’s a cafe here to reward yourself at the end of the hike.
Accommodation: Bridgewater Bay
The finale continues from Cape Nelson all the way into Portland. Highlights include Yellow Rock, Cape Sir William Grant, a colony of endangered Australasian gannets and the Portland Battery. Back to the B&B in Portland where you can brag about your achievements!
Finish after breakfast.
Thank you so much to the staff at Auswalk.
Having recently completed the GSWW we were so appreciative of your support and input in making this holiday one we will always treasure.
You would always respond to any questions promptly and were always considerate of our experience, and for that we will certainly consider other walks with Auswalk.
The accommodation, food requirements and transport you organised was wonderful – top class.
Thank you again for making our holiday an amazing one.
Thanks again to the Auswalk team for organising another memorable time out on the track.
We loved every minute.
As usual the organisation was perfect, the accommodation friendly and comfortable, hosts very helpful and meals provided top class.
All this whilst getting out in the open and enjoying splendid views over the Glenelg River and the coastline around the three Capes.
We have done several self guided hiking tours before in other countries.
This hike was by far the one with the best and most accurate notes. We were quite impressed with how accurate the indicated walking times were.
The description was also very accurate, and we were never lost or in doubt of where to go.