Twelve Apostles Inala Birding Walk
You're invited to join the Twelve Apostles Signature Walk on a special birding walk with an expert guide from Inala Nature Tours. Combine the comfort of a lodge-based walk, lightweight packs and local food and wine with the knowledge of an experienced, local ornithologist.
This collaboration offers birdwatching with Inala's expert bird guides in a diverse range of habitats. Escape to the spectacular south coast of Australia and walk 46km over four days across deserted beaches, through towering forests and along wild, wind-swept cliffs steeped in history.
The Twelve Apostles Signature Walk is an easy to moderate 4-day walk with lightweight daypacks along the Great Ocean Walk, culminating at the iconic Twelve Apostles and returning each evening to our private eco-lodge.
Direct bookings only. For all enquiries and bookings please contact the Australian Walking Company on +61 3 5237 4276 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit: Keith Kennedy - Beautiful Firetail
For over 27 years, Inala Nature Tours, a family-owned and operated company, has been designing and leading birding and wildlife tours across Australia. From their 1,500-acre private reserve at ‘Inala’ on Bruny Island, Tasmania, their tours extend across Australia from the lush rainforests of Queensland to the rugged landscapes of the Kimberley and beyond.
Their tours are designed and led by Dr. Tonia Cochran and her expert team. Among them exists a diversity of talents, from qualified scientists to travel experts. They are united by their passion for wild Australia.
Image credit: Blue Winged Parrot - Dennis Braddy
Your Inala Nature Tours’ guides
Dr Tonia Cochran has over 30 years of experience in ecotourism in Australia and she designs most of the birding and wildlife itineraries for Inala Nature Tours’ guests. She is a qualified Biologist (Bachelor of Science in Botany and Zoology, with Honors and PhD degrees in Zoology) with a broad knowledge of Australian marine and terrestrial fauna and flora and she draws on her years of field experience and her wide-ranging academic and teaching background to design and lead exceptional birding and wildlife tours throughout Australia.
Tonia's team of Inala guides possess the patience, the experience and the knowledge to craft the right birding or wildlife experience for you. They have a diversity of talents, from qualified scientists to travel experts and are united by our passion for wild Australia.
Twelve Apostles Inala Birding Walk (4 Days)
Twelve Apostles Signature Walk is an easy to moderate four-day walk with lightweight daypacks along the Great Ocean Walk, culminating at the iconic Twelve Apostles and returning each evening to our private eco-lodge. On this special departure, we're excited to partner with Inala Nature Tours, Australian birding experts, and be able to walk, pause and admire the birds of Australia's majestic southeast coast.
Photo credits: Keith Kennedy - Beautiful Firetail, Ken & Mary Campbell - Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo, Cindy Marple - Grey Fantail, Cindy Marple - Australasian Gannet and Andrew Browne - Grey Goshawk.
Day 1: Castle Cove to Johanna Beach
Approximately 7km and 3 hours walking
Time to lace up in the ‘mud room’ and step out on track for day one. This is not before a lodge welcome and walk briefing over morning tea. It’s then a short drive out to Castle Cove to begin your walk, with a tasty hiker lunch tucked in your pack.
Today begins in the tea-trees with a few tantalising vistas out to the Southern Ocean. This will be your constant neighbour for the next four days. Enter a flawlessly-groomed grass tree forest and hear tales dating back 104 million years at Dinosaur Cove. Bring those boots to a halt and consider a time when dinosaurs occupied your very location.
Next, drop down onto Johanna Beach. This is an opportunity to kick off the boots and walk barefoot; wind-swept waves just metres away. This two-kilometre stretch has a knack of clearing busy minds and washing away city stresses. Take your own pace across sands frequented by Hooded Plovers, whilst offshore Shy Albatross and Australasian Gannet ply the waves.
At the end of the beach awaits your cool water and lemonade greeting, a constant across all four days.
Day 2: Milanesia Track to Moonlight Head
Approximately 14 km and 6.5 hours walking
Challenge delivers great reward. Wild, weathered headlands give the sense you’re at the world’s edge. Day two is your hardest day out on the track. But with it comes spectacular seascapes and personal triumph. Beginning at Milanesia Track, it covers some of the most remote sections of the Great Ocean Walk. This is your day of wild. Your day of rugged.
The ocean is your steadfast companion across 14.5 kilometres of rolling terrain today, beginning with a descent onto Milanesia Beach. Here, your guide will point out a ‘natural rock wall’ that would be the envy of any budding young climber. After a fleeting beach visit, it’s a short but bracing climb that whispers of inclines to come.
Over the next hours, the trail carves its way through deep gullies with tree ferns and towering remnant Eucalypts, where we will also have a good chance of seeing Gang-gang Cockatoo, the sweet-voiced Olive Whistler, White-throated Treecreepers and perhaps the elusive Beautiful Firetail. In these Southern Blue Gum forests we will also have our best chance of seeing an amazing but perpetually drunk national icon, the Koala.
Further along, the trail, as it mimics the tumbles and rising of the coastline, keep an eye out for Cape Volney. There’s a bench that, if time allowed, could swallow hours. Heaving seas disappear into watery caves. Views west travel to the horizon’s edge. And the entire spectacle is framed by the forest.
Day 3: Moonlight Head to Princetown
Approximately 17km and 6.5 hours walking
Today is about shipwrecks, sandy pathways, exposed heathland and maybe even first glimpse of the Apostles. What better place to commence the walk and get your bearings than The Gables Lookout, one of Australia’s highest cliff-top vistas. After the challenging undulations of yesterday, day three is pleasantly less furrowed.
More than 300 ships have come to grief on this stretch of coastline. Your first stop is aptly named Wreck Beach. It’s a suitable reminder of those early days and treacherous ocean voyages. If conditions allow, you’ll drop down to Wreck Beach and hear tales of pillaging and misfortune including a ship which travelled from China whose cargo of tea coloured the ocean. Depending on the tide, an alternate route leads through to Devils Kitchen, home to arguably Australia’s best lavatory vista!
Following lunch, notice how the geology begins to change from sandstone to limestone. Thick Eucalypt forest gives way to sections of moonscape, indicators of what’s in store. Keep an eye out for native rosemary, cushion plants and wildflowers in season. Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos float past with slow, ethereal wingbeats, vocalising their presence with their evocative calls. In the clifftop gardens with some luck, we will have our first glimpses of the range-restricted Rufous Bristlebird, as well as the tiny Southern Emu-wren, and maybe some small but breathtaking Blue-winged Parrots. Other birds in these clifftop heathlands include species like Brush Bronzewing, Striated Field wren, Forest Raven or the elusive but stunning Grey Goshawk.
Your first glimpse of the Gellibrand River marks the entrance to Port Campbell National Park. This freshwater river near the sleepy hamlet of Princetown is an easy downhill stroll. After some 17 kilometres, reward yourself with a cooling river dip.
Day 4: Princetown to the Twelve Apostles
Approximately 8km and 3 hours walking
Today invites new heights. Depart from the quiet shores of Princetown by the Gellibrand River, beginning with an easy 30-minute wander to reveal your first full view of the Apostles. Gasps aside, keep an eye out for two resident mobs of kangaroos across the hillsides to your right.
There’s a sense of elation today as you draw nearer to the mighty limestone Apostles. No, there’s not 12, which may come as no surprise. But amongst the proudly standing 7, lie 5 recently discovered apostles beneath the ocean’s surface. Weathered but not beaten, those in view lose a couple of centimetres each year to the perilous swells and winds whipping up from the Southern Ocean.
Drawing closer, hear the romantic tale of Tom and Eva. Tom, a gallant local who swam more than an hour to rescue Eva from the Loch Ard, perhaps Victoria’s best-known shipwreck. Of 63 on board, Eva was one of the lucky two to survive, whisked to a cave by Tom and ‘administered’ brandy to remain conscious.
The Apostles reveal gradually along this stretch, reappearing as the trail rises. There’s a viewing platform exclusive to walkers on the final stretch before your arrival at the Visitor Centre. It’s the official end to your walk and an appropriate locale to get cozy with the Apostles in a group snap. On the rock stacks offshore look for Black-faced Cormorants resting after a day of fishing, while down on the beach see the trails of Fairy Penguins from their burrows to the water’s edge. We may even be lucky enough to spy one at the entrance to its nest burrow. Hulking Pacific Gulls are a regular sight here too, with their enormous triangular bills.
If conditions permit, don’t miss the opportunity to descend 80-plus steps to the beach below. This final perspective gives a sense of the Apostles' brooding heights, one 73-metres tall, nudging the equivalent of a 20-storey building. It’s here with sand under your boots, a sense of monumental achievement and wonder sets in.
Follow this with a final lunch in the sleepy fishing town of Port Campbell before returning to Melbourne.
True shelter, something that gives protection and refuge, simple and sustainable, clean and comfortable.
Our groups have exclusive use of our Twelve Apostles Lodge, your forest hugged home just three hours from Melbourne.
The Twelve Apostles Lodge
At the end of a day out on track, the Twelve Apostles Lodge is a forest-hugged refuge three hours from Melbourne. This is where the foot spa awaits, rainforest showers, kitchen garden, dining room stocked with local wines, and your king bedroom with spacious en-suite.
The architecturally-designed lodge has been crafted with environmental sensitivity in mind. This translates to passive solar design, hydronic heating, low consumption electric and water fittings, on-site wastewater treatment and composting, plus a self-sufficient water supply. And there’s a reason this eco-development is award-winning, delivering modern comforts with equal rigour. Expect Myrtle & Moss toiletries, hair dryers, library, mobile coverage (Telstra only).
What’s more, the lodge is exclusively yours. The only way to stay is to join one of our walks. That means the moment you arrive, consider it home. Unpack your bags and get comfy. Five generous bedrooms can be converted to twin share or two single rooms depending on group requirements - all enjoying access to private en-suite bathrooms.
The dining room has a lounge area well-suited for canapes when the fire pit isn’t crackling with friend-huddling flames. After a glass of regional red, move to the long table for your nightly two-course regional menu.
Onsite you’ll also find 24-hour tea and coffee facilities, a gear drying room, and a lodge library well stocked with magazines, reference and fictional books or ask about the lodge property walks. You’re not alone if you don’t stray far from the foot spa and dining table though!
*Alcoholic beverages are available. These are included in your package. We stock a small selection of regional wines and locally brewed beers by the bottle. As an eco-accredited operator, we support local wine and beer.
*One complimentary clothes wash (including soap) is included in your walk package. The Lodge Manager will explain how this is organised at your briefing on day one.
Twelve Apostles Inala Birding Walk
Price per person for departures (inc. GST) (Non-commissionable)
January 9-12, 2024 | $3,295 per person
- Each trip requires a minimum of 8 guests (Twin Share). The maximum is 9.
Direct bookings only:
- Phone: +61 3 5237 4276
- Email: email@example.com
- or complete the below enquiry form
- We do not charge for a single supplement as all rooms can be divided into two to offer privacy with dual access to the bathroom.
Our standard booking terms and conditions apply to all bookings. In addition:
- more than 90 days from the scheduled departure date, a fee of $350 per person will be charged with the balance payment refunded;
- within 90 days of departure, no refund is available. Bookings can be transferred to another name.
- Minimum numbers are required four months before departure.
- This walk cannot be booked in conjunction with any other offers and discounts.
After the minimum number of bookings has been achieved, the departure will be confirmed. Due to the high fixed costs on these trips, guests on our ‘Limited Edition Walks' who postpone due to COVID-19 as per our Peace of Mind Booking Guarantee, will incur an amendment fee of $600 to reschedule to another departure date. All cancellations by guests will incur cancellation fees according to our standard terms and conditions. Bookings are transferrable.
- Return transfers between Melbourne and the walk base
- 3-night lodge stay, all linen and towels
- 3 breakfast, 4 lunch, 3 dinners
- Daily morning and afternoon tea
- Use of daypack, waterproof jacket, poles, ankle gaiters and water bottles
- Daily guided walks, with professional eco-guide
- Vehicle support daily
- All entrance & national park fees
- Optional airport drop off day 4
- Inala Birding guide
- Have a burning question? Check out our FAQ page, and if you need further help please don't hesitate to contact our friendly reservations team
- Ready to start planning your next adventure and want to know what to bring? Check out our detailed gear list, including details on what's provided. If you're unsure about anything on the gear list, please call us or talk to your local outdoor adventure store.
Start and Finish information
- Departure: Meet for departure at 7:45am sharp at the Travelodge Southbank Restaurant, 9 Riverside Quay, Southbank VIC 3000 (central Melbourne location for all departures).
- Return Transfer: 5:30pm - 6pm. Arrive Melbourne (Travelodge Southbank). We can drop you at Tullamarine Airport between 5pm and 5:30pm (for domestic flights from 6:30pm/international flights after 7:30pm).