Victoria’s Great Ocean Road is a drivers’ paradise, with sweeping views of the sea to the south and rolling hills to the north. However, just a quick swerve off the main road will take you from beautiful blue oceans to the gorgeous green of the dense bushland of the Otway Ranges. Here, you can seek shelter in the proud rainforests, plunge into waterfalls or slow things down and treat yourself to some local delicacies. Here’s a quick guide to visiting the Otway Ranges.
What to do
Great Otway National Park
A behemoth of mossy forests, gentle lakes and skyscraping trees, Great Otway National Park is an outdoors lover’s dream. For a modest hike, try the short walk to the spectacular Beauchamp Falls. For something more challenging, take on all 15 kilometres of the Erskine Falls and Straw Falls trail from the coastal town of Lorne and let the Otways put on a show for you.
In 1936, foresters planted the seeds and today California Redwoods tower more than 60 metres above the soil. The Redwoods is a spectacular place to view the world’s largest tree species – and what one day may become the world’s largest trees, as they continue to grow. And it’s only an easy 15-minute walk to reach them.
It’s not often that most of an area’s best attractions revolve around trees, but the tall trunks of the Otways truly cast a spell. At Trees Adventure’s Yeodene Park stop simply observing all the beautiful nature and instead become a part of it.
Yeodene Park offers Victoria’s ultimate treetop adventures, the perfect family activity to get adrenaline pumping. Whether you’ve got young outdoorsy kids or teens with wanderlust, or you’re simply young at heart yourself, an adventure in the trees at Yeodene Park is a great way to spend a day in the Otways.
There are more than 80 aerial challenges to manoeuvre through while you’re hoisted high above the ground, and ziplines help you glide through the eucalyptus gums. You’ll be testing your body and mind as you balance on wobbly bridges, grip rope ladders and shimmy through cargo nets.
Rope courses range from two metres for beginners all the way up to the dizzy heights of the high ropes 20 metres above.
All training and equipment is provided and you get two hours to make your way through the obstacles. It’s an adventure for all – those as young as three years old can participate on the ropes course!
If you want to pair your treetop adventure with other activities in the area or simply refuel, the towns of Colac and Forrest
are both only 15 minutes’ drive away and offer a variety of eateries and attractions.
For a day out that will challenge, thrill and light up the whole family, take a treetops challenge at Yeodene Park. Prices range from $28 to $51, depending on the ages and number of guests, with discounts for groups of 10 or more.
Where to eat
Brae is owned and operated by the acclaimed Dan Hunter who worked across the world before settling into the Otways. The restaurant is romantically perched atop a hillside in Birregura and every ingredient that finds its way onto your plate has been sourced from the organic harvests of local and regional farms or sustainable producers.
Dooley’s Ice Cream
Dooley’s has been a staple of Apollo Bay since it opened in 2000. Take your pick from ice cream, sundaes and milkshakes – all are made in house.
This quirky eatery in the small town of Ferguson makes a perfect pit stop. Try the burger, which is the local’s favourite or choose from a range of great pies, sandwiches and wraps.
Where to stay
Chi Medicinal Farm
For a farmstay, B&B-style experience with yummy food and pretty views, book yourself in to the highly rated Chi Medicinal Farm at Glenaire. Created to pay tribute to its rustic natural beauty, the property is hidden in the Otways, near Apollo Bay. Visit: chimedicinalfarm.com.au
Qii House, Lorne
It’s been a crazy time, so why not treat yourself? At Qii House Japanese-inspired gardens take the tension from your shoulders, five-star facilities keep you comfortable and the beautiful Otways do the rest. If you want the full retreat experience, sign up for wellness activities such as forest bathing.
Otway Gate Motel
For a good-value option, the Otway Gate Motel offers a great location in East Colac for exploring the area with all the basic amenities you need – plus, the staff have the local knowledge to point you in the right direction for a bite to eat.