In early November I was itching to soak in some waterfalls and stretch my neck up to see some gentle giants. With only 2 nights to spare I crossed my fingers hoping for some gushing streams and lush green trees. My inner Doctor told me the perfect prescription for city stress was to breath in some tall forests, ferny gullies, and magnificent waterfalls. Some health benefits from forests include boosting the immune system, lowering your blood pressure and improving your sleep. Not to mention the cognitive pluses of listening to water flowing and getting off your devices. One blessing in disguise is the lack of mobile phone coverage in these remote forests. If you still have coverage why not switch to flight mode.
Before you shoot out the door in excitement to make the drive as seen in the Google map below, it would be best to check if it has been raining. No water means no water falls. Too much water or floods also could mean that some tracks have been closed for safety reasons. Below is a rough route covering the 3 main falls to hike in the Otway Ranges. There are many more falls but these are the 3 most accessable and beautiful if you are short on time.
1. HOPETOUN FALLS
Hopetoun Falls has a viewing platform 20 metres from the carpark which offers spectacular views of the falls as they crash into the Aire River. Or you can take the steeper walk down to the pool at the base of the falls. The walk starts from the carpark located on the Aire Valley Road in Beech Forest.
Distance: 1km return | Time: 30 mins | Difficulty: Moderate
Beauchamp Falls crashes over a ledge into a large pool just outside Beech Forest, this 20-metre waterfall rewards a somewhat strenuous walk. To get to the falls, take the walking path from the picnic area, located off the Aire Valley Road. The three-kilometre path is an hour's walk return, and requires reasonable fitness. The descent to the falls leads to a viewing platform (there is no access to the falls). The path back is steep and has steps that can be slippery when wet. Take care when walking in damp conditions.
Distance: 3km return | Time: 1 hour | Difficulty: Strenuous
Triplet Falls is one of the iconic visitor sites in the Great Otway National Park. Nestled amongst the ancient forests of Mountain Ash and Myrtle Beech with large sections of expanded metal boardwalks, you will discover three distinct and impressive cascades flowing through shady rainforests and glades of mossy tree ferns. The walk is quite close to the Otway Fly Treetop Adventures located on Phillips Track near Beech Forest. The walk begins with some sections of steep steps so while it's not long, it is not suited to people with limited mobility. There are some very large Mountain Ash trees along the track which are estimated to be around 200 years old. Continuing on the loop back to the carpark, you come to the site of Knott's #1 Mill which operated for more than 20 years from 1909. The remains of a steam boiler overgrown by ferns is now the only evidence of one of the largest timber mills that operated in the West Otways region.
Distance: 2km return | Time: 1 hour | Difficulty: Moderate
At the remarkable Californian Redwoods, let your imagination come to life along this enchanting walk, where fairytales seem to come alive! This remarkable stand of the world's tallest tree species have thrived in Otway soil, far from their native California. Towering on the sheltered river flat at the Aire Valley Plantation, these Sequoia Sempervirens Trees were originally planted in 1936 by Victorian forresters for experimental purposes. While still in their youthful growth phase, the Otway Redwoods may one day claim the title of tallest trees in the world. A walk for the first time between the massive trunks flanking the river creates a special feeling of awe and reverence - not to be missed.
Distance: 500m return | Time: 15 mins | Difficulty: Easy
5. Erskine Falls
Are at the end of Erskine Falls Road 10km north west of Lorne. There is a viewing point above the falls and a walking track, steep in places, leads to the base of the falls. The falls cascade over one of the highest drops in the Otways. Overcast days are the best time to photograph falls. Bring a 3 or 6 stop filter if you wish to slow down your shutter when too sunny. 1 -2 second shutter speed should do the trick. Even 1/2 or 1.4 second will works as well if there is enough water flow.
Distance: １km return | Time: 30 mins | Difficulty: Easy
6.Point RoadKnight Beach
Bonus Extra Location:
It’s not a waterfall but if you are heading back to Melbourne and want a glimpse of the seascape shots along the coast, here is one worth a look. Before you drive into the town of Anglesea turn right into 8th street to find the car park at the southern end of Point Roadknight Beach. From here you will have to cut across the Lorne Queenscliff Coastal Reserve as seen on the map below. The image taken below at sunrise is not easy to find or walk to. The jagged rocks and high tides might limit how close you can get to make an image. You will find the jagged rocks at the southern most point of Point Roadknight Beach only through the reserve.
Goes without saying a water bottle, small towel to dry lens and non slip water resistant boots are essential in this environment. Do you have any suggestions on the perfect shoe & pants?
Camera: Fujifilm XT3 | Lenses: 35mm (F1.4) & 14mm (F2.8) | Tripod: Sirui T024SX | Total Weight: 5 Kg.