By Oceana Setaysha
August 11, 2020 | 5 minute read
The Great Ocean Road might be well known for its amazing beaches and sweeping coastal vistas, but there’s another thing you’ll find in abundance along this famous road: waterfalls. Yes, unbelievable though it might seem, the Great Ocean Road region is actually home to some of Victoria’s most stunning waterfalls. Tucked away in the lush fern-filled forests of the Otways and dotted around iconic Great Ocean Road towns like Lorne, there are some incredible waterfalls. These are some of my favourites.
* At the time of writing, activities and places mentioned in this guide are at varying stages of recovery from COVID-19. Please check government and business websites for specific details on opening times and any restrictions before you travel.
Hopetoun Falls is a great waterfall to start with on your Great Ocean Road adventure. Just park up at the signed spot on Aire Valley Road in Beech Forest and take a little wander. There are two ways to see the waterfall - from the top viewing platform, only a few short metres from the carpark or from the bottom at the base pool, which is about 1 km of moderate walking but so lovely. The mist hangs in the air as the water thunders into the Aire River, giving everything a fresh and clean smell that renews the spirit.
Lorne has a number of key attractions, and Erskine Falls is definitely one of them. This is among the Otway’s most popular waterfalls, and with good reason. Just a 9 km drive from Lorne, you can view it from the top or the bottom. The top walk, where you’ll see the water tumble 30 metres into the pool below, is just five minutes from the carpark, while the lower lookout involves 200+ steps to the waterfall’s base. Is it worth it? Well surrounded by the sound of falling water and the beautiful tree ferns, I can honestly say I don't even think about the steps!
Easily one of the Great Ocean Road’s most iconic waterfalls and therefore one of the most visited, is Triplet Falls. Three individually impressive cascading waterfalls nestled in a misty and mossy rainforest packed with native Australian tree species. Birds call all around walkers as they make their way from the Triplet Falls carpark down the stairs, along the trail and then along the boardwalk to the Triplet Falls lookout. There are soaring trees all around, some centuries old. The walk may not be long, but it is quite steep in sections, so bear that in mind.
Little Aire Falls
Starting from the Triplet Falls carpark, but requiring a far greater level of dedication and fitness, is the somewhat hidden Little Aire Falls. The track to this waterfall winds through rainforest and groves of massive mountain ash, finishing up on a high platform with a view that makes the 5 km trek entirely worthwhile. Along the way are creek crossings, bridges surrounded by verdant gullies of ferns, and some great wildlife spotting opportunities. As with Triplet Falls, it’s a steep hike back to the car!
Taking a walk out to Kalimna Falls gives you the chance to wander along a historic timber tramway, where you can still see some of the original sleepers that were used in its construction. It’s a fair walk – about 8 km – but pretty gentle for most of the way (although slippery when wet) so perfect if you want an extended stroll. On the Kalimna Falls Trail, which starts from the Sheoak Picnic Area (not the carpark), you can see both the Upper Kalimna Falls and her lower sister. There’s something special about both locations, and it’s really worth seeing them both if you’re in the area.
For those wanting a pit stop that also takes in a delightful Great Ocean Road waterfall, Sheoak Falls is ideal. There’s a ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-it’ turn off from the Great Ocean Road that will lead you to the Sheoak Falls carpark, and from there it’s only two and a bit kilometres (or an hour return) to see the falls in all their glory. The area is busier when the weather is warm, but between spring and autumn is also the best spot to see the nesting swallows in nearby Swallow Cave. Over the sound of the falling water, the bird calls and the sight of them flitting in and out of their nests, it’s truly something.
If you’re looking to see one of the Great Ocean Road’s highest waterfalls, Carisbrook Falls is the place to be. Not only are the Carisbrook Falls accessible via a short walk from the carpark, some 20 mins or 1 km return, the falls are simply majestic. Instead of a straight roaring drop the water tumbles gently over an angled rock face, meaning this fall is best viewed after a bit of rain. Look for it about 12 km to the east of Apollo Bay, and see what we mean for yourself.
Snuggled away inland from the Great Ocean Road, about 4 km from Beech Forest, is a delightful waterfall known as Beauchamp Falls. Access is via a 3 km loop walk classed as being medium to difficult, but absolutely worth it. Start at the picnic area just off the Aire Valley Road. You’ll stroll down the well-signed path surrounded by enormous mountain ash trees and lush tree ferns. Just before you see Beauchamp Falls (although you might already be able to hear them) the track rises, but that gives you one hell of a view.
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