My First Marathon Hike

Main facts:

  • Start/End: Telegraph Saddle
  • Distance: 45km (circuit walk)
  • Time: 11.5hrs (around 9hrs walking time)
  • Grade: moderate/difficult 
  • Location: Tidal River (Wilson’s Promontory National Park)
  • Tour Data: my tour on Komoot

I’ve done many hikes in my life so far but never a marathon hike – more than 42km in one day. It’s not just about the willingness to hike such a distance but also about finding the right track – ideally a round trip motivating you the whole day and not just a walk into one direction and then the same way back. I’ve found such a track in the remote area of the Wilson’s Promontory National Park. A walk within a large coastal wilderness area offering spectacular and varied scenery of mountains, open forest, rainforest, a beautiful beach, wildlife spotting and breathtaking coastlines. In short, the perfect place to do it …

When I told my work colleagues and friends what I was about to do, I was met with questioning looks. ‘But why?’, ‘Alone?’ or ‘That’s too dangerous!’ were some of the reactions I received. The first one was easy to answer: ‘Because I was very keen and wanted to do it.’ The second one as well: ‘Of course alone (there is probably only one person I know I would do such a hike with)’. And the third one? Well of course there’s a little risk with doing such a long hike in a remote location with no network most of the time. Nevertheless, that was a reason to find it even more fascinating. And as I believed it was still less dangerous than jumping out of an aeroplane I also won this discussion. Hence, my project was given the green light and only the weather could have stopped it (but I was more then lucky and had chosen one of the most beautiful days in this winter). 

The longest distance I had hiked in the past was 35km. This one was more than 44km. So because of the short daylight time in Australia’s winter and the intention to be able to enjoy the beauty of this area (and not having to rush) I started one hour before sunrise with a head torch – this gave me enough time for several breaks and stops along the route.

It wasn’t as cold as I expected it to be, when I started my hike at 6.30am. The first highlight was watching the sunrise behind Mount Wilson following a second breakfast after the first 12km at the lonesome beach of Waterloo Bay – only me, the ocean and a few birds. Awesome! The second highlight of the day (and time for another break after a first strenuous ascent) was a lookout with great views of the Bass Strait and (still far in the distance) the Wilsons Promontory Lightstation which was my second highlight of the day and marked approximately half of my tour. On this section it was also the first time this morning that I met a few people who stayed at the Lightstation over night and did the tour the other way around. The lighthouse is situated at a beautiful location offering panoramic views to the Bass Strait. From the top of the cliff I was even able to watch a large group of Australian fur seals playing in the water.  After 29km I reached the South Point which was my third and very special highlight. Here, I was standing on the most southerly point of the Australian mainland (145° 22′ 26“ East, 39°08′ 12“ South) only surrounded by the ocean. Next stop Tasmania. On my way back up to the Roaring Mag campsite my muscles made their presence and I noticed for the first time that my legs were getting heavy – but I still had 15km left to go. Fortunately, the track leading trough open bushland and forest was as fantastic as all the others of the day; this kept me highly motivated. 

My hike ended at 6pm as I reached the carpark back at Telegraph Saddle, finishing like it all started: in the darkness. The last 6km were definitely the hardest – my feet hurt and my legs felt as heavy as lead. However, it was worth every little pain. Seldom have I felt happier.

Ready to hike 45km in one day? – Here’s what you should not forget:

  • Head torch 
  • Sunscreen (you’re up to 12h exposed to the sun)
  • First-aid kit (even though I’m not prone to blisters I had some blister plasters with me this time)
  • Spare clothes (e.g. rain jacket, gloves, hat, …)
  • Miscellaneous items (e.g. small towel, wet wipes, toilet paper, rubbish bag, camera and a power bank to charge your phone if tracking the tour)
  • Enough to drink (I carried 4l with me)
  • Ready to use electrolyte powder/solutions
  • Varied food (plus some sweet and salty snacks)

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