Hikers get a different perspective of Victoria’s famed Great Ocean Road on this four-day adventure.

Photo credit: Ricky French

I’ve been around long enough to know not to turn your back on an angry sea. I take my backpack off and dump it on the golden sand of Victoria’s Johanna Beach. The incoming tide has flooded a channel in front of me, cutting off any hope of maintaining dry shoes, so I decide to take them off and stash them in my bag. What could possibly go wrong?

A fellow walker had the idea first. She took hers off as soon as we hit the beach and has been sauntering the sand in bare feet, making her way west with the unhurried air of someone with no particular place to go. There’s something symbolic in the way her shoes dangle from the straps of her pack; she’s hung up an unneeded impediment to this wonderful moment of communing with nature. Enjoy that sand between your toes.

The Twelve Apostles Lodge Walk explores a coastline infamous for its shipwrecks.
The Twelve Apostles Lodge Walk explores a coastline infamous for its shipwrecks.

I feel the wave before I see it. It smacks me in the back then picks up my backpack and sweeps it away in front of my startled eyes. Instinctively I make a grab for my shoes but one is already surfing to shore with panache not normally associated with footwear. Sprinting after my rapidly dispersing possessions I get the impression nature doesn’t want to commune with me today; it wants to show me who’s boss. My six companions are no doubt enjoying the show. We met only a couple of hours ago and are about to spend the next four days hiking 46km of the famed Great Ocean Walk, skirting some of Victoria’s most stunning and inaccessible coastline, sharing sleeping quarters, meals and battle stories. It’s moments like my impromptu swamping that really facilitate team bonding. I tell them later I staged the whole thing for this express purpose…

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