The Great Otway region of Victoria, Australia, boasts one of the highest levels of rainfall in the state. As a result, there are brilliantly full cascading waterfalls hidden within some of the best rain forest, to explore all year-round.
The Great Ocean Road is great, but sneak a little further into the rainforest and you uncover a hidden world of treetop adventures, intriguing flora and fauna and serene, Jurassic-like landscape.
Here are just three waterfalls in the Otways with incredible short hikes that you absolutely cannot miss on your visit to the stunning Great Otway National Park.
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Where are the Otways?
The ‘Otways’ is the (typically Australian) shortened name for the ‘Great Otway National Park’ which is located in the south west region of Victoria in Australia, just inland from the famous Great Ocean Road.
The Otway National Park covers 100,000 hectares of wild and diverse landscape, from rugged coastlines to dense and misty temperate rainforest.
The Otways is just 160km away from Melbourne, making it a fantastic weekend break from the city to get a healthy dose of the outdoors. It takes about 2.5 – 3 hours to get there by car, accessed via the touristy Great Ocean Road or the quieter, inland route of the highway.
Where to Stay in the Otways?
If you have the weather on your side (and you’re inclined to it), the absolute best way to experience the Otway National Park is to camp. There are many free, unpowered camp sites in the region with basic toilet facilities. You can also find many private paid campgrounds with a few more luxuries or consider glamping.
If you’re planning only a weekend in the Otways, camping really adds to the ‘getaway’ experience.
We camped on a grassy clearing at the fantastic Beaucamp Falls Reserve free site, just next to the car park for the waterfall. It was one of the few camp sites in the area that allows dogs and so there were plenty of well behaved cute pups around to pat.
We also checked out the larger camp ground half an hour away at Stevensons Falls, but it was full (as it was a public holiday weekend).
If camping isn’t for you, then there are loads of great accommodation options dotted all around the Otways, whether you’re looking for a quiet retreat or somewhere with a little more civilisation such as Apollo Bay.
The best waterfalls in the Otways:
And now onto the stunning waterfalls in the Otways! Here are my favourites.
Beauchamp Falls is where we camped and it was my first taste of the breathtaking waterfalls the area has to offer. If you’re planning on just visiting Beauchamp Falls from elsewhere, be advised that the C159 road to get there is pretty narrow, full of hairpin bends (though the slow, windy route to get there is worth it!)
To get to the waterfall, you follow a 1-1.5 hour 3km return walk from the car park/campground. The walk is initially fairly steeply downhill, taking you through some incredibly dense rainforest with ferns, beech mrytles, fungi, eucalyptus trees and damp, mossy foliage.
The track leads walkers alongside a peaceful trickling creek where, if you’re lucky and it’s near dusk, you may be able to spot a platypus or two.
The walk here is a truly magical rainforest haven and it was by far one of my favourite walks out of all the waterfall tracks. All you could hear was the trickle of the creek and birdsong.
The last five minutes to the waterfall takes you down some pretty steep zig-zag steps, luckily mostly with a handrail.
Once at the bottom, you have the option to go up a metal staircase to see the waterfall from above, or you can walk on the muddy, stony track below it to really appreciate the full scale of the falls.
Beauchamp was not only the quietest waterfall I visited, but also one of the most atmospheric. It feels very intimate due to the horseshoe shape and the thick overgrown foliage.
Triplet Falls is located within Beech Forest on Phillips Track. It was probably the busiest waterfall I visited as tour mini buses can access it due to the large car park and less windy road.
At the time of visiting, the full loop walk (2km long and taking 50-60 minutes) was closed due to extensive storm damage. However I could still walk to the waterfall and back (taking about 45 minutes).
Just like the other waterfall, the last part is quite steeply downhill which is tough, but your reward is not one waterfall, but three!
Triplet Falls is quite unique as the water flows in three places over a shallow bed of rock with various crevasses and bumps (and doesn’t just drop straight off an edge). The three water channels meet at the bottom where it forms a creek that trickles down below the rest of the treetop boardwalk.
Although the views of the three cascading waterfalls from the platform are obscured by the foliage in front, the whole setting was breathtaking. It was like something out of Disney’s ‘The Jungle Book’.
Out of the three waterfalls, I found this one to be the most impressive, despite the fact you can only look from afar. There are danger signs off the path so you’re not technically allowed to go down and get close.
Hopetoun Falls is also located within Beech Forest on Aire Valley Road. It has the shortest walk (a 30 minute 1km return) but it is probably the steepest. There is also a platform 20 metres from the car park where you can view the waterfall from the top.
Although the Hopetoun waterfall and setting is gorgeous, the walking track finishes at a boardwalk and platform next to the creek, about 50 metres away from the waterfall. The fallen trees and rocks covered in moss downstream makes it a very pretty setting, but it’s a shame you can’t get closer to appreciate the force of the falls up close.
Five minutes down the road for Hopetoun Falls you can find signs to a Californian Redwood Forest. We actually found it by accident and decided to check out – I am so glad we did!
I would totally recommend stopping off here before or after the waterfall for a quick 15 minute walk and to snap some pictures. Not only are the 85 year old super straight Redwoods stunningly impressive, the tranquil creek framed by mossy branches and ferns is simply picture-perfect. It really was magical.
These waterfall walks are just three that you can visit on a trip to the Otway National Park in Victoria. But there are loads more – including the lovely Agnes Falls, the highest single span waterfall in Victoria.
If you have time, also make sure you make it over to the town of Forrest where you can do a platypus tour on Lake Elizabeth.
There is so much to do in the Otways that I left feeling like a weekend had only allowed me scratch the surface. I’ll definitely be back!
Heading to Australia soon? Don’t forget these essentials!
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