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A trip to the township where the Barwon River meets the ocean is incomplete without a walk around the impressive bluff, an activity that rewards all year round.
Barwon Heads remains an idyllic seaside retreat despite the attention brought by the ABC television series Sea Change, which was filmed here.
Maximise your experience by visiting at low tide. Start your stroll at the car park by the bridge and make your way towards the ocean along the pathway. When you reach At The Heads, an iconic restaurant built on a jetty, follow the boardwalk to the left and around the perimeter of the restaurant, which featured in Sea Change as Diver Dan's. Enjoy something delicious or refreshing here on your return.
Once around the restaurant, pass by the jetty fishers and continue along the walkway. Once past the river mouth you will be able to see Ocean Grove and the surf beach over your left shoulder. When you've exhausted the path, climb the stairs to the cliff top and continue walking up the slope via the gravel track.
You know you're alive up on the bluff, particularly when a southerly is blowing in from Antarctica. Several viewing platforms offer a birds-eye view of the rolling ocean. And speaking of birds, they enjoy aerial acrobatics here when the wind is at its height. Take in the memorials to the many lives lost in these waters. It's not called the 'shipwreck coast' for nothing.
While it is possible to continue around the cliff top walk, bear in mind you will need to beat the turning tide for the return trip. Take the stairs down to the beach. Bear left and make the return to the township at beach level. Please check tides beforehand to ensure your safety.
The beach walk around the bluff rewards with cave structures in the cliff wall, crabs burrowing in the wet sand, rock-pooling and, if you are very lucky, a seal. Keep well clear of the cliff face, as it's unstable. You will need to scramble over some large rocks to make the circuit.
Allow at least twice the time it took to complete the cliff walk for the beach return.
The mouth of the Barwon River is an ideal playground for a variety of activities. Fishing, beach sports, swimming, cycling, kayaking, windsurfing, jet skiing, kite flying and wedding ceremonies are common sights here. Many buy fish n chips to munch as they take in the serenity of the river mouth and breathe in the sea air.
Once you've dragged yourself away from the magnetism of the river mouth, continue to take in the views from At The Heads while replenishing your energy stores.
Allow at least one hour for the circuit, remembering the beach walk will be slower going. Only able-bodied walkers will enjoy this outing. A less demanding walk can be undertaken either by parking at the top of the bluff and doing the bluff top walk, or completing the pathway walk from the bridge carpark, wandering out to the receding shoreline, and then returning.