Ancient forests, crystal clear streams, cascading waterfalls, coastal views, sandy beaches. Koalas in the wild. This is Great Otway National Park where the green forest meets the blue ocean. Another place from our past travels that we somehow haven’t managed to tell you about yet. Even though this is a place that’s definitely worth a stop while driving Australia’s famous Great Ocean Road. And now we show you some short and pretty hikes that we loved so much here!
About 3 hours drive from busy Melbourne, Great Otway National Park is the land of warm silence. The land of temperate rainforests, lush ferns, pretty waterfalls, giant Californian Redwoods and beech trees that are several hundred years old. Great Otway tempts with rich wildlife, too: kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, platypus, koalas, glow worms, birds, seals, penguins…
The park, especially Aire River campground is home to a significant koala population. We’ve already written about where to walk to meet with cute koalas. Also, you can go to Cape Otway Lighthouse to catch a glimpse of migrating whales and dolphins.
Great Otway offers long walks like 100 kilometres long Great Ocean Walk or 44 kilometres long Surf Coast Walk from Torquay to Aireys Inlet. It offers some of the best surf breaks of Australia. And it offers countless trails – of which some are quite easy and truly special. We’re gonna talk about those.
Because they make for beautiful stops while driving the Great Ocean Road. They can be done even if you’re not an experienced hiker. They’re short and exciting so even small kids can enjoy them. Oh, have I already mentioned waterfalls? Let’s see them.
Maits Rest Loop
It’s not even a hike, just an easy loop walk through the rainforest. It’s the best choice if you have a very short time in Great Otway. You can see lots of giant trees – like massive Mountain Ash or Myrtle Beech trees – on this trail. Some trees are several hundred years old.
Triplet Falls Loop
Even though waterfalls in Great Otway tend to flow year-round, they look the most fabulous after heavy rains. Visiting in April which is the end of summer there, our timing for waterfalls was not the best. Still we found them lovely, especially being surrounded by the lush greenery.
One of them is Triplet Falls that’s accessible on a short trail that begins with a section of steep steps and continues with a comfortable boardwalk. Triplet Falls got its name because three little waterfalls run side-by-side. Though only the widest, rightest one can be seen well from the viewing platform, the other two are somewhat covered by the foliage.
If we could choose only one rainforest walk to do in the Otway, this would be it. Ancient rainforest and lovely cascading waterfalls – what else would you want?
The first viewing platform is only 20 metres from the parking lot, but for the best views it’s worth doing the steeper walk down to the pool at the base of Hopetoun Falls. It’s a long series of stairs, but instead of counting them, just look around and enjoy the smells and sounds of the forest. The waterfall is 30 metres tall and has a classic rectangular shape.
The upper lookout for 30 metres tall Erskine Falls is an easy 5 mins walks from the parking lot. The walk to the lower lookout includes a couple of hundred steps, but it offers a closer view of the falls – I mean, if it exists. Water was only dripping by the end of summer when we visited.
A small forest of the world’s tallest tree species have thrived in Great Otway, far from their native California. Being only a couple of hundred years old, the Otway Redwoods are babies compared to those ancient giants we’ve seen in California’s Redwood National Parks. Well, let those babies amaze you, they will. 🙂
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