Great Otway National Park

The Great Otway National Park, also known as The Otways or The Otway Ranges is located 162 km south west of Melbourne, along the Great Ocean Road. It is 103 km2 and was renamed the Great Otway National Park in 2004 when a number of National Parks were combined together into one. The park covers both coastline and hinterland and can be accessed from Apollo Bay, Beech Forrest or Princetown. It includes camping grounds at Blanket Bay, Johanna and Aire River.

The Aire River camping ground is home to a large Koala population. From the coast-line Bottlenose Dolphins, Southern Right Whales and Southern Humpback Whales can be spotted as they migrate to these waters to birth their calves during our Australian win-ter. The park contains important bird species such as Rufous Bristlebirds, Striated Field-wrens and Pink Robins.

Hidden deep in the Otways near the town of Forrest is Lake Elizabeth. It was formed 50 years ago when the valley was flooded, so the lake has dead trees protruding throughout. While hard to spot, there are platypus on the water, the best time to try and spot them is at dusk or dawn. You can walk around the lake easily as it is only about 5 km, or you can camp at one of the 15 sheltered camp sites. If you camp you can’t take a vehicle into the camp area, and there is no drinking water available so you must take your own.

If you are wanting a picnic and a short walk in the Otways then Shelly Beach is a great location. In only 2.4 km the track takes you through picturesque scenery and a large area of Eucalypts full of koalas and Yellow-Bellied Gliders. Make sure you only walk the coastal area during low tides and calm seas.

For a real piece of history, you can do the difficult walk to Wreck Beach, where you can see the anchors of the Marie Gabrielle and Fiji ships that have been ship wrecked along this rugged coast. The Fiji ran aground in 1878. The walk is difficult though, as it requires you to descend 350 steps from the cliffs down to the beach. You can only access the beach and see the anchors at low tide.

One of the most iconic attraction to the Otways is Triplet Falls. Nestled amongst Moun-tain Ash and Myrtle Beech forests is this majestic waterfall. Some of the trees are esti-mated to be over 200 years old. The Triplet Falls walk is a 1 hour walk, however, there are steps, so it isn’t suitable for everyone.