Overview and Track Notes

The Great South West Walk begins at the historic city of Portland Victoria which is the Western gateway to the Great Ocean Road.

On leaving Portland, the track provides walkers with panoramic views of the scenic coastline and beautiful Portland harbour, finally meeting up with wonderful native forests which offer solitude and peace from the noise and bustle of civilisation.

Nearing the end of the forest, the walk meets the majestic Glenelg River which meanders through the Lower Glenelg National Park. Spectacular views of gorges and limestone cliffs can be seen from the cliff tops as the track winds its way towards the coast.

Leaving the river at its mouth near Nelson close to the South Australian border, the walk continues on to the seemingly endless white beaches and rolling sand dunes of Discovery Bay. Remoteness…wild seas…huge breakers…gentle waves and rock pools…all in a solitude broken only by birdlife or perhaps an occasional seal.

As a diversion from the white sands, detour to the freshwater Lake Mombeong or revisit the forest at Mount Richmond. Koalas are usually on hand to greet you in this area, while in Spring, the wattle, heaths and wildflowers will leave you spell-bound.

As the walk heads back to Discovery Bay, Cape Bridgewater and Cape Nelson, you can watch seal colonies at play from the rugged cliffs, an occasional Southern Right whale/s and obtain magnificent views of the gannet rookery on the mainland at Point Danger as well as on Lawrence Rocks.

Along the way, you will marvel at the natural wonders of The Springs, The Blowholes, and the Petrified Forest.

Finally, the walk winds its way back to the city where walkers will pass through the Enchanted Forest, past the gannet colony observing popular surf breaks along the way.

More on Track Notes

A great resource for all walkers is the 2020 First Edition Guidebook.

This book contains everything you need to enjoy the hike-

  • what to expect
  • easy to use maps
  • detailed track notes
  • a field guide to plants and animals
  • fascinating history and geology

You can purchase the Great South West Walk Guidebook from our online shop.

Other Track Notes are accessible on the Green Trails website.

Where does the walk start and finish?

The walk officially begins and ends at the Visitor Information & Discovery Centre on Lee Breakwater Road, however it is possible to start and exit at many access points (refer to map). The walk completes a loop and can be done in either direction; however anti-clockwise is the recommended direction (particularly for Discovery Bay).

Can I start my walk elsewhere?

Yes, at road crossings and some camping spots.

Portland's Discovery Centre is located on the Portland foreshore.