GoR_Visit Victoria

Designing and planning a world-class walking experience with proposed features such as suspension bridges to provide amazing views and experiences is currently underway. The Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) is working with Parks Victoria and partners Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation and the Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority to plan the trail according to the trail’s guiding principles. These include ensuring the trail respects and promotes the rich cultural heritage and natural values of the area and utilises existing tracks where possible.

The Victorian Government has provided $25.5 million to plan the entire trail (Fairhaven to Skenes Creek) and build the trail from Fairhaven to Grey River. The Australian Government is contributing $350,000 for planning and feasibility studies (Cumberland to Skenes Creek) through the Geelong City Deal.

Master Plan Now Released

On Tuesday 6 September the Minister for Environment and Climate Action visited Fairhaven to launch the Great Ocean Road Trail Master Plan and release the first look at the new trail route, location and design of new infrastructure.

The master plan, released in September 2022, has been endorsed by project partner agencies. It has now been published on Engage Victoria. Revision 8 of the Great Ocean Road Coastal Trail Master Plan includes updated imagery and artwork.

The trail master plan has been shaped by over 12 months of community and stakeholder consultation, with over 3,000 responses received.

The 90-kilometre walking trail will traverse Gadubanud Country along the Otway coast, boasting new breathtaking views from suspension bridges, some spanning over 160 metres as well as camp sites, lookouts, boardwalks, river crossings, carparks, and day visitor areas.

The new trail will provide a full 7-day 6-night hike, day walks, half-day walks and shorter loop trails.

New dedicated walking paths will allow visitors to 'tread lightly’ and safely, leaving minimal impact as they connect with this environmentally and culturally significant landscape.

The trail will be a drawcard for Victoria, link communities along the coast and support local businesses by encouraging longer stays in the region all year round, including outside traditional holidays.

A copy of the Master Plan is available via Engage Victoria.

Trail Details

The Great Ocean Road region possesses some of the most spectacular nature-based experiences in Australia. From rainforests, rivers and waterfalls, the region showcases nature at its most diverse.

A feasibility study in 2019 assessed the potential of providing a walking trail that would link the Surf Coast Walk (that commences in Torquay) to the Great Ocean Walk (finishing at the 12 Apostles).

New dedicated walking paths will allow visitors to 'tread lightly’ and safely, leaving minimal impact as they connect with this beautiful, delicate, and culturally significant landscape.

It will provide experiences from the full 7 day/6-night hike, day walks, half-day walks and shorter loop trails.

It’s expected the Great Ocean Road Coastal Trail will significantly increase visitor spend in the region.

The trails aim to attract visitors to the Otway Coast region more evenly across the seasons, benefiting the local tourism economy year-round.

These localised experiences will provide opportunities to extend and enhance visitation in the region in a new way.

Background & Project History

A walkable trail to improve linkages between communities by connecting the Surf Coast and Great Ocean Walks was advocated for by the Wye River, Separation Creek and Kennett River community after the 2015 Christmas Day bushfire.

The initial concept has since evolved into a 'series of trails’ to provide multiple, all seasons walking experiences that are connected to local townships, linking them together and extending tourism opportunities throughout the year.

With feasibility studies completed, designing and planning is now underway with the trails to be constructed in stages from 2023 and 2025.

Walking on Gadubanud Country

This project brings together government agencies and Traditional Owners, the Eastern Maar Peoples, to work on Country in designing and constructing the trails that will ultimately make up the Great Ocean Road Coastal Trail.

The ancient and dynamic cultural landscapes of the Otway Coast are rich in Aboriginal values. Working with Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation to ensure the Great Ocean Road Coastal Trail acknowledges a balanced history of the region, while supporting Traditional Owners to create opportunities to actively shape the future of their traditional lands, waterways, and seas.

Trail Master Plan and Engagement

Trail designers, World Trail, and the DELWP project team have been working closely together since September 2021 to refine the trail design and produce the Master Plan. This process has been supported by delivery partners and stakeholder and community input.

Online surveys and consultation events in October/November 2021 and March/April 2022 provided important and helpful feedback about the proposed trail, including:

  • Trail design principles
  • Ensuring environmental excellence
  • Trail alignment (four revisions of the alignment have been made)
  • Suspension bridges, lookouts and other trail features
  • Accessibility options
  • Camping
  • Car parks and getting to the trail options

Technical assessments to inform the design of the proposed route were conducted by World Trail and their team of subcontractors and included fieldwork, geotechnical reports, engineering assessments and environmental studies.

Economic benefits

The economic benefits of the trail for the Great Ocean Road Region have been independently forecast. An update has also been completed to take into account the impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The study, and the update, show the trail will provide strong economic benefits for Victoria. By encouraging more frequent and longer stays, the trail will also provide a lasting benefit for local communities and businesses across the Great Ocean Road Region.

Visitor numbers are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels by 2023 (interstate) and 2025 (international). Check out the EY 2019 Feasibility Study and updated 2022 Addendum in the Document Library below for more information.

It’s anticipated that the trail will attract and extend the length of stay of over 200,000 people to the region in its first five years and deliver an extra $38 million in visitor expenditure.

Next Steps

Detailed Design will commence in the coming months. This phase will include detailed design and additional environmental and technical assessments of the trail and associated trail infrastructure, such as lookouts, bridges carparks and campgrounds.   This process will involve further community consultation. Further revisions to the planned route are expected as these additional assessments are completed.

Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP) - A significant piece of work for a project of this type includes a comprehensive assessment of cultural heritage and the development of a clear management plan to ensure we know about the cultural values present and that these are safeguarded as we plan for construction. The CHMP is expected to take 12 months to complete and will be undertaken in partnership with Traditional Owners.

Five First Nations People stand in a semi circle on the tidal rocks on Gadubanud Country. Two men hold boomerangs.  There is one woman in the centre, they are all engaged in a discussion.  It is a sunny day at low tide.

Future Trail Management and Land Management

Most of the planned trail will be in the Great Otway National Park (Crown land) currently managed by Parks Victoria. Planning and construction of the Great Ocean Road Coastal Trail is led by DELWP, with ongoing management eventually transferring to the Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority.

Want to know more?

Contact the project team at coastaltrails@delwp.vic.gov.au

Read about the Apollo Bay to Skenes Creek Coastal Trail

Learn more about the Otway Coast’s Traditional Owners – The Eastern Maar

For more information from the Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority – https://www.greatoceanroadauthority.vic.gov.au/Home

Explore the Great Otway National Park – https://www.parks.vic.gov.au/places-to-see/parks/great-otway-national-park

Page last updated: 11/08/23