Johanna Beach to Ryans Den, Great Ocean Walk

Here we go again. Another day and another post. This entry continues to follow my third stroll of this hike and covers the leg from Johanna Beach to Ryans Den, Great Ocean Walk. What am I up to? Day six? If I’m right, there are only two more to go and I’m done. No doubt you’d prefer something different, but best I complete this saga before heading onto something new.

First of all, I should mention a couple of things. I turned 50 the other week and I’m undecided whether I want to be eternal or call it quits in another 30 years or so. Let me think it over. Actually, for the sake of trivia, I share my birthday with two other legends in history. John Daly and Saddam Hussein. Now there are a pair of wild men I wouldn’t mind at a dinner party. JD would drain all of my JD supply and Saddam would go all WMD on the gas BBQ (take note people, that’s four abbreviations in the one sentence. Almost a record, plus I know SH is dead. Having him dead though would ruin the joke). Imagine the photos?

Secondly, remember the last post where I informed you I was shortlisted as a finalist in the lifestyle/hobby section of the Australian Writers’ Centre, 2014 Best Australian Blogs Competition? Well, in the final wash-up I missed out in my category. Actually, I wish they had a few more categories, as I’m not sure the ramblings within these infernal walls qualify as a ‘lifestyle’. Also, I don’t think my mother dying alone, far from home after a lifetime of mental illness, is really a ‘hobby’ either.

Sometimes I think I should ease back on the outlandish stuff, but after about 0.7 of a second wondering, I usually elect to put my foot down instead. You know, harder, faster, fatter, balder, drowsier, feebler and lobster. Hang on. Did I come up with some modern age Seven Dwarves?

Rest assured, I’ve got so many post ideas and things to write about, there’s a potential you’ll be bombarded into submission. The only comparison I can make is these incoming blog entries will feel like the deluge of arrows being fired by the archers at Agincourt. I’m flat out planning as we speak. Literally.


Training for another hike.

Right. Johanna Beach to Ryans Den. You know what? This is a pretty good stretch, if only the start wasn’t so uninspiring. It’s one of those sections, which leave the coast and head off inland following roads, before returning to the beaches. It’s a bit crap, but I do note on my map, ‘future realignments are planned for the area‘. I’m not sure what this means, but one day, hopefully the roads can be binned.

In the morning I was keeping an eye on the weather. It seemed weird, but on my two previous attempts, leaving Johanna Beach had given me my heaviest rain of the trips. With the initial part of the day on exposed farming land, I can’t say I enjoyed the soaking, which was so heavy, the droplets bouncing off my eyeballs was quite painful. Last time, I remember putting on my sunglasses to give my peepers a bit of relief and then abandoning them, as I couldn’t see a bloody thing due to an incredibly dark sky.

As you can see from the last post, with sun and storms around, I wondered if it was going to be third time unlucky, heading out from the campsite in a potential typhoon. What happened? Alas, for you the reader, it might have been overcast, but it was clear sailing as we left.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. Inside the comfort station at Johanna Beach, it was quite annoying to see a big bag of rubbish sitting on the floor. I don’t mind picking up some rubbish on the way, but there was no way we were going to lug out a big, stinking bag of the stuff. Just remember this paragraph, as I’m going to revisit it at a later stage.

I noted one thing whilst climbing the paddock tracks. On my previous tilts the landscape was green and lush. Yeah okay, I do know walking in winter and spring will do that, but on this occasion the endless brown grass was a jarring sight.

Slowly climbing from camp, there was one last chance to look back at Johanna Beach…


…as Smuffin vanished into the distance.


It may have been short of humans, but I wasn’t lonely, as there were plenty of others, lurking in the long grass, keeping an eye on me.


You know what? I think it may have something to do with 50 being the new 80, as I can barely remember the next hour or so. Did it rain? I seem to recall changing tops a few times, but then again I could be wrong. Upon hitting the bitumen, my mind must have slipped into neutral. Who knows, but I’ve only got a handful of pics to jog the memory and they’re not helping, other than the roads looked like this…


…and I passed a nutjob who refused to blink.


Eventually the tarmac is left behind and a slippery track down to Milanesia Beach begins. Are you getting sick of the sweeping coastal vistas yet? I’m sorry to say, but they have to keep coming for the time being, as Milanesia Beach revealed itself during the descent.


I was in luck as I hit the beach. Huge swirling clouds loomed overhead and a downpour was imminent. If only I had a house verandah to shelter under? Well, I didn’t need to look far, as there just so happens to be a place tucked away. Perfect for avoiding the upcoming soaking.


House at Milanesia Beach

This little cottage is a bit of a weird one. Hidden away in an isolated place and inaccessible to vehicles due to a locked Parks Victoria gate some distance away, it might be one of the best beach houses anywhere. Although I don’t think it was built as a weekend getaway. It has all the hallmarks of some punters house from years gone by.

Someone must visit it though. Maybe in the warmer months? Then again, since the five years from when I first passed by, the interior furniture looks untouched and the ‘gone tiddlerim’ note on the window is still as it was in 2009.


One of life’s not so great mysteries. Amongst all this, the most important thing was the heaviest downpour of the day arrived, but luckily I remained dry under the rear verandah. It was one of those days though, where as soon as the rain stopped pounding, the sun was out.

On my last visit, the tide was running a bit high, so I took the inland route behind Milanesia Beach. My reward for keeping my feet dry was a zany, steep climb to the cliff tops, before the track descended down to beach level again. Only an incoming tsunami would stop me from taking the high tide route again.

What did I find though when I strolled down to the beach? A Parks Victoria sign informing me the beach was closed and I’d have to head up into the hills. Huh? I could see to the end of the beach and it was clear. Why would I have to leave the sand behind? This warranted some further investigation, so I ignored the sign and began walking the beach to see what the problem could be.

By now the sun was shining…


…and although the sand was a little soft, it was plain sailing as I approached the end of the beach.


Milanesia Beach.

Then before I knew it, I was at the end and climbing into the surrounding hills. What was all that about? I’ve no idea, but maybe it’s Parks way of avoiding all responsibility if you somehow get your feet wet? What gets me is the beach is short and and the end clearly visible, so if you do get into trouble from high seas, then really, you should give yourself a double slap to the face. It’s really not too dramatic a stroll.

I thought it might have been closed to discourage people due to nesting hooded plovers, but this can’t be the case either, as the high tide brings the water up to the cliff edge. Unless the plover eggs have snorkels, I can’t see any feathered friends nesting along there. Anyway, it was another not-so-great-mystery 2.0. Milanesia Beach was dishing up too many mysteries for me to take in.

Climbing off the beach I performed something I hadn’t done for a while. I went arse up. Maybe that’s why the beach is closed? In case you fall over, five metres from the sand? Strolling down a small, wet track, my feet went horizontal and after being momentarily suspended in mid-air, landed on my back with a reading of 4.2 on the Richter scale.

On all falls I take a photo from whatever position I end up in, but on this occasion, it didn’t look like I was lying on the ground at all, so you miss out. Other than a mild rearranging of my spine, I was alright and commenced heading up the ascending track.

The rain was still around, so it’s about time for another coastal vista of passing showers out at sea. Again.


The section from Milanesia Beach to Ryans Den is an undulating affair, but it’s one of the best for the entire walk. There are coastal views aplenty and the odd ferny section for some added variety.


Unfortunately, my Alzheimer’s which has kicked in around 20 years too soon struck again. Did anything of note happen in the next hour or so? I’ve no idea, but I must have slipped into arty photographer wanker mode, as I’ve quite a few photos of water droplets on branches. It’s a tough life being an artist. I wonder if I was brooding as I took this photo? Did I have a beret on?


Walking the area multiple times has one advantage. I knew where the finish line was. All you need to know is once you reach the crazed, Ryans Den staircase, the camp is close by. I think I’ve included pictures of the stairs in my 2010 post, so I won’t bother again. This time though I counted them and said to myself, “Don’t forget the number, as I can include the amount when I write this up”. Then promptly forgot.

Finally, the campsite was reached and it’s in an impressive spot. Perched high on a cliff, there are fantastic views from a lookout point at the end of the camp. It feels the most remote of all the GOW campsites, but even I know it’s an illusion. A bit of long distance staring will reveal farmland not too far away. Late in the day though, you can’t really complain about the elevated position. It’s an impressive spot to look back towards Cape Otway as the sun begins to set.


Yes, it’s that time again.

Big Greg’s GOW Tip of the Day.

This is an easy one. No matter what Parks Victoria say on their little signs, Milanesia Beach can be easily walked when the tide is low. Maybe if they explained the reasoning, I’d think differently, but right now all I can offer is a shaking fist in defiance. You’ll know what I mean as soon as you get there.

Anything else? Oh yeah, remember the earlier spiel about the rubbish bag in the Johanna Beach campsite comfort station? Well, lo and behold, inside the door of the Ryans Den cubicle sat another one. Freshly stuffed to the brim and obviously left by the same chumps who must have passed through only a few days earlier. Oh rubbish people, instead of looking out to sea from the Ryans Den lookout, is there a chanceย you couldn’t have thrown your pathetic bodies off into the ocean instead?

That’s it. Another two days to go and the walk is done. After all the angst, I think it’s best to conclude in a nice, mellow fashion with a sunset picture.