A walk along the clifftops from Aireys Inlet to Sunnymeade Beach

Friday 2 July 2021. For our final daytrip of the recent school holidays we drove to Aireys Inlet, a charming coastal township thirty kilometres west of Torquay along the spectacular Great Ocean Road, and home of local landmark Split Point Lighthouse. We planned to take the clifftops walk to Sunnymeade Beach.

Cliff walk

We arrived at Aireys in the early afternoon and had our lunch at the pleasant Bark Hut Reserve, home to a replica of a bark hut, one of two built in 1852 by a pair of Geelong butchers. The original was lost in the devastating Ash Wednesday bushfires of 1983, which burnt large swathes of Victoria and South Australia.

Bark Hut Reserve

Lunch complete, we drove the short distance to the Split Point Lighthouse carpark, at the end of Lighthouse Rd, where the cliff walk begins. Although blue skies prevailed, the Bureau of Meteorology had predicted storms and the clouds were beginning to gather.

Gathering clouds

We walked to the eastern end of the carpark to the start of the walk and set out. Behind us the lighthouse rose high above the coastal scrub and the clifftop properties; every lookout point between the carpark and Sunnymeade Beach afforded a picturesque view of it.

Split Point Lighthouse and clifftop houses

From Land’s End Lookout, 200 metres along the way, the view across to the lighthouse across a small beach was particularly fine.

Split Point Lighthouse from Land’s End Lookout

In fact spectacular views of Split Point were so ubiquitous that any number of amateurish shots were possible: choose a dead tree, photograph the lighthouse behind it…

The lighthouse

Views of Bass Strait were quite stunning too. One may think that Bass Strait is part of the Southern Ocean, but according to the Australian Hydrographic Service (via Wikipedia) it lies within the Tasman Sea.

Looking out to Bass Strait

After a short while we came to a fence across the path. Due to instability, the path had been closed and the walk rerouted. Though naturally not as photogenic, the walk along the road was not unpleasant. For one thing there was no traffic. For another it was reasonable short: after perhaps 400 metres we were back on the clifftop…

…and enjoying yet more fabulous views of the lighthouse, this time from Reef Lookout.

A view of the lighthouse at every turn

Twenty-five minutes later we arrived at Sunnymeade Beach. The beach is accessed via steps through a gully; at the end of the steps is a sandy path; and at the end of the sandy path is the beach. Just before reaching the goldens sands we came upon a pair of girls’ red dress shoes, incongruous in their surroundings and seemingly lost forever to their owner.

Sunnymeade Beach

After twenty minutes or so at the lovely beach we started to head back to Aireys. Despite the forecast of storms and the slow build-up of clouds, the sun continued to shine. And now the lighthouse was before us, appearing around every corner, drawing us closer to it.

The lighthouse again

And closer.

And again

And closer.

And again

Soon we were back at the lighthouse carpark. We drove to Aireys Inlet Reserve, a short distance away at the top of Inlet Cres, to have afternoon tea and kick the football. It had been a most splendid walk. And the storm had not arrived.

Looking towards the mouth of Painkalac Creek from Aireys Inlet Reserve

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