Great South West Walk – Glenelg River to Nelson

The Lower Glenelg National Park, in Victoria’s south western corner, is a wonderful place for a camping, hiking or canoeing holiday.
We had a terrific holiday camping at Pritchards Landing a few years ago. The swimming, boating and fishing made for a fantastic family holiday with something for everyone.

Dave, our guest poster, continues with his trip report on the Great South West Walk.

In this post he covers the Glenelg River section of the walk which is from the Moleside Camp to Nelson.

Nelson is the mid point of the walk. It has a couple of general stores for resupply.

Map of the Glenelg River section – Moleside Camp to Nelson

The Glenelg River
After 80km the track emerges at Moleside Camp to follow the mighty Glenelg River out to the coast. (Notice how you can spell ‘Glenelg’ backwards and it’s still correct?) This was one of my favourite camps and I enjoyed a swim soon after I arrived. It was here that I realised that the river is tidal and the water has a slightly saline taste to it, even some 50km from the ocean. It is a magnificent river though and for the length that I walked it always spanned about 50 metres across to the other bank. Views of the water would come and go as the track pushed through bush on the south side of the gorge.

View of the Glenelg River from Moleside camp

Moleside Camp

I stayed at Murrell’s Camp(pic below) which was a lovely spot beside the river where I had a well earned swim and even did some laundry.

The only problem I had was there was hardly any level ground to pitch a tent. I chose what I thought was the best place but still felt like I was sliding down to the far corner all night! After the company of only birds and animals for three days, it was nice to meet a few groups of day walkers and fishermen in this section of the walk. I never met anyone doing more than this and had every single campsite to myself.
Murrell’s Camp – Great South West Walk

I decided to throw in a long day and miss the picturesque Patterson’s Camp in favour of getting to Simson’s Camp. It meant completing 24km on a hot day but it was one of the best sections of the whole track. In the lower reaches of the Glenelg River the gorge becomes much deeper and the track offers some spectacular views from on top of the limestone cliffs. It goes past a number of popular picnic and camping areas, some of which were being well used. At its most westerly point the track follows the curve of the river into South Australia. I had lunch at the lovely little picnic area of Hirth’s Landing.

The South Australian section

Simson’s was a pleasant campsite but I was disappointed there was no river access. After a hot sunny day I was eager for a swim but had to settle for my daily rainwater bath instead. It was here that I was woken in the middle of the night by something scratching around beside my tent. I got a fright and unzipping my tent door revealed a possum. This was Australian wildlife I could happily do without! They don’t have much fear but I scared it as much as possible and fortunately that’s the only one I saw in the two weeks.

The Glenelg River – great swimming

The small township of Nelson represents the halfway point of the Great South West Walk. It’s a place to restock with food for the journey back along the coast to Portland. There are a few historic buildings which now serve as the local pub and a guesthouse. It has a petrol station, food kiosk, boat hire, church, information office, several houses and not a lot more. The kiosk had limited and very expensive supplies but I managed to accumulate what I needed before heading south to begin the trek along the beach.

Hire Boats at Nelson

Comments

  1. John B says

    Thanks very much for the information about the GSWW, it's great to read about firsthand experiences. I intend to do the river section of the walk over the September school holidays so this has been great to get me started.
    Well done in general also on this blog it's fantastic to read as hiking is one of my passions and it's really cool to read about others experiences, especially round Australia. Keep up the good work!
    John

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