With over 370 steps, the walk to Wreck Beach is a tough but fun adventure. You can see the anchors of the wrecked Fiji and Marie Gabrielle and enjoy this beautiful and rugged part of the Shipwreck Coast.
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Getting to Wreck Beach
- Apollo Bay to Wreck Beach 68km, 65 minutes
- Lavers Hill to Wreck Beach 20km, 24 minutes
- Port Campbell to Wreck Beach 38km, 38 minutes
We have driven along the Great Ocean Road several times and have never stopped at Wreck Beach or nearby Gables Lookout. So, when the brown sign to Wreck Beach came into view as we drove between Apollo Bay and Port Campbell, we went in for a look.
Signage to Wreck Beach is not completely clear, so here is a quick description of what to look for:
- Turn onto Moonlight Head Road from Great Ocean Road
- After 500m you come to a fork in the road where you turn right
- Drive for about 3.2km, ignoring the 4WD track you see on your right
- There is another fork in the road. Veer right and it is 1km to Wreck Beach or veer left and it is 300m to the Gables Cemetery and Lookout.
It is a dirt road into Wreck Beach, but it is suitable for 2wd cars. There is a generous car park at the end of the road – it is hard to imagine that it ever fills up!
Is the Walk to Wreck Beach Hard?
From the car park it is 375m metres to Wreck Beach. While it doesn’t sound far, after a short walk on a flat dirt path you go down 375 steps to the beach. We had mixed feeling on our way down.
On the one hand the views of the beach were sensational. On the other hand, in the back of our mind we knew we had a big climb ahead of us getting back up.
The steps are fairly easy to negotiate. While they never get too deep, there are a few places where the dirt in the flat of the step has worn away which makes some of the areas a little awkward. If it has been raining, the wood risers can be a bit slippery.
On the way back up we just took our time. There is a rest stop/lookout area about halfway up which is a good chance for a breather. Otherwise, assuming your knees are okay, a slow, steady ascent and a bit of heavy breathing is a small price to pay for the walk on the beach.
Finding the Wrecks on Wreck Beach
To find the anchors of the Marie Gabrielle and Fiji, at the bottom of the steps start walking right along the beach. A sign at the bottom of the stairs indicating this would be very handy, we just guessed to go right and got lucky.
The walk to the first anchors belonging to the Marie Gabrielle is 10 – 15 minutes along the beach and the Fiji is about 5 minutes further on. The sand on Wreck Beach is soft so the walk is a bit of a slog. There are sections where you can walk across some rocks and the firmer surface was a real relief.
Despite running into crowds of people at the waterfalls around Apollo Bay and other Great Ocean Road attractions, we had the beach to ourselves here which really added to activity. The cliffs, big waves and beach are a dramatic landscape, and it was extra enjoyable knowing we were the only ones there.
Best time to see the Anchors
The tides and weather can affect what you see on Wreck Beach. The anchor of the Fiji is cemented vertically into the rocks and is less affected by tides. However, you would want to get to the Marie Gabrielle anchors when the tide is less than 1m so check the conditions if you want to see these anchors without water around them.
If the tide is in or the weather is pushing the waves onto the rocks around the Marie Gabrielle anchor, you will have to be very careful getting too close to it. There are lots of rock pools around the anchor and it would be easy to misstep into one if you are trying to get a close look. We’d suggest staying away from the water if it is around the anchor.
Things to do at Wreck Beach
We spent about 2 hours at this stop. Here is what you can do:
- Walk to the anchors of the wrecked ships – allow 60 – 90 minutes to do the walk up and down and explore the beach.
- Drive back to the Gables Lookout – there is an easy 400m walk between casuarina trees to a lookout over the coast.
- Spend a moment at the Moonlight Head Cemetery
- Walk between the Gables and Wreck Beach car park – if you feel like a longer walk, there is a 900m trail that connects The Gables Lookout and Wreck Beach car park.
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