This easy, short walk just 10 minutes from Apollo Bay is a fun way to combine the Great Ocean Road’s coastal and rainforest scenery. It is a perfect walk for families with lots of rock pools to explore if you get there outside of high tide.
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Getting to Shelly Beach
Shelly Beach is easy to get to. If you are in Apollo Bay, follow the Great Ocean Road west. Go past Wildlife Wonders then look for the turn off to Elliott Road on you left. At the end of the road, you will come to a small carpark.
We first put Shelly Beach into our phone navigation system, and it took us through the backstreets of Marengo, the town next to Apollo Bay, and nowhere near where we should have been.
This was definitely a case where the map we got from the Apollo Bay Visitor Centre was more useful than technology!
How Hard is the Shelly Beach Walk?
From the carpark it is an easy 1.9km return walk to Shelly Beach. The track varies between a dirt track, a wood boardwalk and stone path. The trail undulates a little, but it never gets so steep that you will find yourself puffing.
There are several other walks in the area including the Great Ocean Walk but all the walks are well signed. The trail to Shelly Beach goes off in a different direction to the other trails so just follow the arrows and you can’t go wrong.
Highlights of the Shelly Beach Walk
The walk to Shelly Beach takes you through a patch of temperate rainforest and it looks fantastic. The trail seems to be cut into the hill a bit which means the towering trees around you seem even taller.
Parts of the track are lined with ferns and tree ferns and on the grey morning we had for our walk, the forest and dull sky created a lovely atmosphere. We could hear plenty of bird calls too.
Best of all, as you make your way along the track, the sound of the crashing waves from Shelly Beach get louder and louder. If you are travelling with kids, between the forest and sounds of the surf, there is plenty to distract them on your way to the beach.
Things to do at Shelly Beach
Shelly beach is a magic setting. The walking trail finishes at all small patch of sand and beyond that, depending on the tide, are rock platforms dotted with rock pools. Beyond the rock shelf is the ocean. If you look back behind where you just walked from, the forest creates a leafy green amphitheatre around the small bay.
Despite its name, there are not obviously lots of shells at Shelly Beach. Souvenir collectors have probably had an impact. But you will see shells and little marine critters in the rock pools, and it is great fun looking around them.
There is also an area of rock which has a tessellated pattern to them which is an interesting thing to see. Look for them on the rocks just to the left of the beach as you look out at the water.
Best Time to Visit Shelly Beach
We visited Shelly Beach on a calm day a couple of hours after a 2m high tide. The next low tide was 1.1m a few hours later. There was plenty of rocks to walk over and the water was a safe distance away.
The rock platforms would probably not be suitable for exploring if the tide is 1.5m or greater or if there are stormy seas causing the waves to break up over the rocks.
No matter the conditions, take care on the rocks and don’t get too close to the waves.
Other info about the Shelly Beach Walk
- Dogs are not allowed on the Shelly Beach Walk
- There are no facilities at the beach or carpark
- From the car park you can also access the moderate 4.5km Elliott River Loop walk but you will have to do the walk at low tide to cross the river. The track can also be quite muddy after rain.
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