The Great Otway National Park stretches from Torquay through to Princetown and up to Colac to the north. Rugged coastlines, beaches, areas of cool temperate rainforests and cascading waterfalls are features not to be missed while visiting the of the Otway Ranges.
Things to do
Known as the Jewel of the Otways, Melba Gully is one of the wettest places in the state and is literally on the doorstep of Otway’s Nellie Nook. The gully has prolific plant growth and is a dense rainforest of Myrtle Beechand Blackwood, the namesakes of our 2 cottages. Tall tree-ferns, with an understorey of low ferns and mosses offer a tranquil escape.
The most unusual inhabitants of the area are the glow worms, which can be seen at night along the walking tracks.
The 35 minute Madsen’s Track Nature Walk provides a glimpse into a world of ancient, mossy trees and cool fern gullies.
Located in Beech Forrest, just 24km from Lavers Hill. Hopetoun Falls plummet 30 metres into the Aire River and can be viewed from the upper platform, or descend the 200 stairs leading through glades of tree ferns to the base of the falls.
Located in Beech Forrest, 16km from Lavers Hill, Triplet Falls is one of the more popular visitor sites in the Great Otway National Park. As the name suggests, there are three distinct and impressive cascades flowing through shady rainforests and glades of mossy tree ferns while ancient Mountain Ash and Myrtle Beech tower above.
Located along the Aire Valley Road in Beech Forrest, this picnic area is a delightful place to stop and enjoy a picnic or just a short stroll into the forest. The Californian Redwood forest (Sequoia trees), were planted alongside the river in 1939. This unique forest is enchanting and is an experience that you will not forget. There are two picnic tables located out in the open near the forest and pit toilets are also available nearby.
Johanna Beach is the best known surfing location west of Cape Otway and is only 11km from Lavers Hill. It was the site of the World Surfing Championships in 1970, and its famous left and right breaks are a mecca for surfers. The beach can be reached on a loop road from the Great Ocean Road. Johanna Beach is not patrolled and there are large rips so this is not one for swimmers. For more information…..
At Castle Cove, the Great Ocean Road reaches the coast for the first time since Mounts Bay. From the roadside car park 30 m above the beach, you can view the surf and the large rip that dominates the spot. The main beach consists of 300 m of sand below the steep, vegetated bluffs, while the east beach is a narrow strip of sand backed by the bluffs and fronted by patchy rocks and reef. This is a hazardous beach, dominated by high waves, reefs, an often heavy shorebreak and a very strong permanent rip. They are unsuitable for swimming but stunning to look at.
This is something for those who are looking for something a little more challenging. Descending over 350 steps , the walk takes you to the anchors of the Marie Gabrielle and the Fiji – reminders of the treacherous nature of the sea. Make this walk at low tide only and beware of large sea swells.
The iconic golden limestone cliffs and crumbling pillars of the Twelve Apostles can be found 7km east of Port Campbell. Created by constant erosion of the limestone cliffs of the mainland beginning 10–20 million years ago, the stormy Southern Ocean and blasting winds gradually eroded the softer limestone, forming caves in the cliffs.
These caves eventually became arches and, when they collapsed, rock stacks up to 45 metres high were left . View the 12 Apostles at sunrise and sunset as they change colour from dark and foreboding in shadow to brilliant sandy yellow under a full sun.
Stretching from Apollo Bay, to the 12 Apostles, the Great Ocean Walk passes along a dramatic coastline of soaring cliffs and remote beaches, with sections exploring giant eucalypt forests full of kangaroos, wallabies and koalas, and meandering estuaries brimming with birdlife.
If not keen to tackle the complete 100km+ walk you can also choose from several shorter sections.
A spectacular rainforest boardwalk for all ages. Located very close to the Great Ocean Road, west of Apollo Bay you willsee beautiful fern gardens and giant rainforest trees up to 300 years old. If you’re lucky, you may bump into the local swamp wallabies, koalas, ring-tailed possums and grey kangaroos.
In the hills surrounding Forrest, often using the remnants of redundant narrow gauge rail tracks used to transport timber, has been transformed to one of Victoria’s favorite mountain bike destinations. These trails showcase the natural beauty of the Otway Ranges, passing through tall eucalypt forest, dry heathy scrub and magical fern gullies while satisfing mountain bike riders of all levels.
Only 13km from Lavers Hill is The Otway Fly Treetop Walk. It is a one hour rainforest walk experience, that is approximately two kilometres long and features a 600 metre long and 30 metre high steel structured treetop canopy walkway, that takes you right into the treetops. It is the longest and tallest walkway of its type in the world and includes a thrilling cantilever.
If you are looking for something a little more adventurous try the Zipline Eco-Tour. It is a two-and-a-half hour, fully guided experience, including training, eight cloud stations, six flights and two suspension bridges.
Otway e-bikes is a fantastic Eco-Tourism operator located in Beech Forrest. Couples, families and small groups ride electric-power assisted bicycles on the magnificent ‘Old Beechy Rail Trail’ from Beech Forest. No licence is required. Travel leisurely and effortlessly through natural rainforest and take in stunning 360 degree views along the glorious Otway ridgeline on the purpose built trail. There are e-bikes for kids and trailers for toddlers so the whole family can enjoy this special place in the Otways.
Cape Otway Lighthouse is the oldest surviving lighthouse on mainland Australia and considered the most significant. Built in 1848, the lighthouse known as the ‘Beacon of Hope,’ sits 90 metres above the pristine ocean of Bass Strait. Tours of the lighthouse are available and if you climb the observation deck at the top of the lighthouse you will enjoy breathtaking views of the dramatic coast and waters. There is also an historic Telegraph Station and a secret World War Two Radar Bunker to explore.
Towns in the Otway Ranges are perfect for markets. Taking place on Sundays, country markets are a great way to spend a morning or afternoon out, exploring what a country community has to offer. You will find delicious artisan products, locally made art and craft, as well as activities and things for the kids to enjoy. “A trip to a market in the Otway Ranges is a great way to see the gorgeous Otway hinterland and experience what the Otway Harvest Trail has to offer.”