Yes we do say boots rather than outdoor trainers / trail shoes for a number of reasons (this is a question that gets asked frequently). It is possible to walk the GOW in outdoor trainers but it largely depends on what the weather has been up to lately. Some sections of the walk can be very wet, muddy and slippery after a period of heavy rains. Especially the forest sections approaching Shelley Beach from Marengo, the track between Shelley Beach and Blanket Bay can get very boggy underfoot with ankle deep, sucking mud for long stretches. The hills around Cape Volney and Milanesia can be quite treacherous to descend when slippery after rain. In these instances a pair of boots will give you better traction, stability and protection from the mud. Even if these areas are completely dry a pair of boots offers more protection against sprains and bites. Having said all that – it’s still a personal choice and you can walk the track in pair of Merrells or other trail shoes with good grip. And of course it goes without saying that you should always break in a new pair of boots or trainers before you start a long distance walk in them. Take them on your training walks!
Walking Poles can make your life easier, esp. if you are carrying a heavy pack. It is certainly not a requirement for this walk and most people we’ve encountered on the GOW do not use them. But they can be of benefit to many people, esp if you are getting older and not as steady on your feet as you once were or you suffer from knee / hip / ankle strains. Inexperienced walkers may also enjoy the feeling of security a pair of poles can bring. Some benefits:
Reduces risk of injury from falls
- Reduces wear and tear on joints
- Reduces back pain and promotes better posture
- Engage upper body for more exercise benefit
If you are considering using Poles for the first time then we’d recommend reading the excellent free ‘ Australian Bushwalkers guide to trekking poles‘ which tells you everything you need to know about walking poles and how to use them. You can download free from here:
Good waterproof jackets & pants
That infamous Victorian weather can bring the fabled “4 seasons in one day”, so you’d best be prepared for any eventuality and check your weather forecast ( see ‘When to go?’ section in FAQ’s for weather & climate info). A breathable, waterproof membrane for your Jacket especially is indispensable. “Gore Tex’ has traditionally been the choice for walkers who could afford it but nowadays there is a wide range of synthetic materials used for jackets that can serve the same purpose of being waterproof, lightweight and breathable – whilst being a bit easier on the wallet! A reputable outdoor gear store can advise you on the best choice for your budget.
Walking in the cooler wetter months it ‘s also advisable to pack a pair of waterproof trousers to pull on in the case of a downpour. Non-breathable materials will leave you as wet on the inside as if you’d been exposed to the rain so be aware of this when choosing a cheap pair.
First aid kit
A well stocked first aid kit is essential for multi-day walks on the GOW, as you’ll need to be able to treat any minor injuries that occur and walk yourself out. If you’re walking as part of an organized group your leader will carry a first aid kit for emergencies but you should still bring supplies of moleskin, strapping tape or other anti- blister treatment. To purchase first aid kits specifically designed for outdoor situations (as opposed for offices or cars) take a look at the following website
Blisters – Ask experienced Bushwalkers and chances are you’ll get a different answer from each one about the most effective prevention and treatments. Some swear by zinc oxide tape, others ‘Hikers wool’ or double socks or petroleum jelly! We’d say keeping an awareness of ‘hot spots’ on your feet, checking them, airing & drying your feet when you stop are the effective at prevention. Taping up a friction hot spot will prevent it developing further into a painful & potentially debilitating blister.
Dehydration can be a factor during the warmer months, esp. carrying your own pack. Not only should carry & drink sufficient water but it’s important replace the salts you’re losing through sweating with Isotonic powders or ‘Diaoralyte’ to mix into your water
Victoria gets high UV days of sunshine so you’ll need a decent paid of sun glasses to cope with the glare and also a broad brimmed trekking hats. Baseball caps don’t really cut it, they’re hot and expose your ears! Go for a lightweight broadbrimmed trekking hat and you’ll be much more comfortable. Don’t forget to pack factor 30 sunscreen.
A good broad brimmed hat & high UV shades are advisable
At the other end of the scale do you need hat and gloves? Well if you’re camping in the cooler months then yes it’s a good idea as evenings can get quite cold down here. If you’re staying in heated accommodation then no they’re not essential for walking but ultimately check the weather forecast!
This just a suggested packing list not by any means an exhaustive one, so pick what is relevant to your trip:
- Day pack ( if luggage being transferred)
- High factor sunscreen
- Blister pads and / or tape for rubbing / blisters on your feet.
- Insect repellent – warm months
- Plastic bags for wet or dirty clothing
- Wet wipes or antiseptic hand gel
- 3 T-shirts / long sleeved shirts – quick drying materials recommended
- Pair of comfy shoes (to relax in at end of day)
- Well worn in walking boots with good grip required
- Hiking socks, wool mix or good synthetics ( avoid cotton socks)
- 2 pairs of knee length shorts or long trousers (not jeans)
- Light sweater/ fleece
- Light weight waterproof
- Towel and swim wear ( summer months)
- Sun hat / ‘beanie’ for cooler months
- Change of clothes to relax in
- Water bottle or ‘Camelback’ drinking bladder, min. 2 litre capacity
- EPRIB or PLB if travelling independently
- Mobile phone
- Map & waterproof case
- High energy snacks, trail mix
- Walking poles
- Camera & adapter for recharging
- Small binoculars
- Reading material
- Torch / head torch
- Lightweight, strong tent
- 3 seasons sleeping bag
- Thermals in cooler months
- Trangia or MSR stove & pans
- Fuel & matches
- Lightweight dehydrated meals
- A big enough pack to hold all the above in!
Choosing a pack that suits your needs is important and requires more depth than we can give justice to here so if you’re shopping for a pack have a look at the following article and also talk with a reputable outdoors shop in your local area about your choices: http://www.rei.com/expertadvice/articles/backpack.html