Hopetoun Falls, the Otways

A guide to the wildlife and waterfalls of the Great Otway National Park. Explore the Otway’s and you’ll be amazed at the natural beauty you discover!

About the Great Otway National Park

Located in southern Victoria, the Great Otway National park covers over 100,000 hectares and is one of our favourite places in Australia. Encompassing much of famous 243km long Great Ocean Road (B100) the Great Otway National Park is massive. Full of hugely diverse scenery, from rugged coastline to fern-clad forests and full of a range of wildlife and waterfalls.

With the vast majority people sticking firmly on the famous Great Ocean Road much of this breathtaking park is completely overlooked. And, in our opinion at least, that is a huge mistake! So if you want to get a little off track, or at least, off the Great Ocean Road, head inland and see some of Victoria’s natural wonders away from the crowds and tour buses. Here’s some of our favourite spots to see the wildlife and waterfalls of the Great Otway National Park:

Waterfalls of the Great Otway National Park
Click to expand map

1. Erskine Falls

  • Starting Point: Erskine Falls car park – 10km North West of Lorne along the Erskine Falls Access Rd – Click HERE for Map
  • End Point: Erskine Falls car park
  • Distance: 500m return – It is 230 steps down to the lower lookout, but definitely worth it!
  • Time to complete: 30 mins not including photos. All structured steps to lower viewing platform*

The slightly obstructed upper viewpoint is only 80m from the car park and doesn’t offer the greatest view. But it is well worth clambering down the 230 steps to the lower viewing platform of this 30m waterfall.

Erskine Falls in Great Otway National Park

Whilst on the track and at the waterfalls base, keep your eyes open for one of Victoria’s prettiest birds – the Pink Robin. Endemic to the dense, temperate and tropical forests of southeastern Australia this is one of the best places in Victoria to find these colourful little birds.

Pink Robin - Erskine Falls
Pink Robin

Without a car or just want to make a day of it? Then you can hike the 7.5km (one-way) Erskine River Track. Starting in Lorne, this trail travels up predominantly along the river, passing Straw Falls and Splitter Falls. For trail info click HERE.

Tip: At either the start or finish of the drive along the Erskine Falls Access Rd, make a slight detour to Teddy’s Lookout for one off the best views of the Great Ocean Road.

Check out our ‘18 Stops along The Great Ocean Road’ guide – HERE

Teddy's Lookout on the Great Ocean Road

2. Lake Elizabeth

  • Starting Point: Lake Elizabeth car park – Click HERE for map
  • End Point: Lake Elizabeth car park
  • Distance: From the car park it’s about a 700m walk past the camp site to western corner of the lake.
  • Time to complete: Allow 2 hours if hiking to the lake and then completing the Lake Elizabeth Walk.

Often described as ‘hidden away’ Lake Elizabeth is a nice quiet and secluded scenic spot. The lake was actually formed in the 1950’s when to torrential wet weather caused a landslide damning the East Barwon River forming this new ‘perched’ lake. The serene lake is somewhat eerie with dead tree trunks popping up out of the lake.

Lake Elizabeth, the Great Otway National Park

The Lake Elizabeth Walk loops right the way around the lake. Look out for the Eastern Yellow Robins and Superb Fairy Wrens darting around. But, the coolest part about this lake is the colony of platypus that live here. If you look carefully and quietly around the lake, especially at dusk and dawn you have a great chance of seeing one of Australia’s strangest creatures – the endemic, semiaquatic, egg-laying Duck-billed Platypus.

Duck-billed Platypus - Great Otway National Park

3. Beauchamp Falls

  • Starting Point: Beauchamp Falls Camp Site/car park – click HERE for map
  • End Point: Beauchamp Falls Camp Site/car park
  • Distance: From the camp site/car park it’s a steep 3km return hike
  • Time to complete: Allow 1-1.5 hours for the return hike

This 20 meter waterfall is a little harder to get to than the others. The 3km trail is moderately strenuous, but well worth it. Once at the waterfall, there are two viewpoints. The upper platform which is on fixed metal viewing deck.

Beauchamp Falls from viewing platform

Arguably, the better view is from below at the base of the falls. Regardless of the weather conditions, it can be slippery getting down to the river and especially slippery moving around on the rocks. So, climb around here at your own risk!

Beauchamp Falls in the Great Otway National Park

The hike itself is beautiful, almost all downhill to get there, taking you into a tunnel like trail, surrounded by the glistening tree ferns with fleeting glimpses of yellow and pinks as various robins dart by. The lush surroundings will help take your mind off the return journey, which is basically uphill all the way.

Eastern Yellow Robin in the Great Otway National Park
Eastern Yellow Robin

The camp ground at the car park is a lovely spot. Ideal for free camping, with long drop toilets and small areas for fires. It’s equipped with picnic tables too, making it the perfect spot for a post walk picnic. As with the trail, we found the campsite brimming with birdlife. Lookout for the Pink and Eastern Yellow Robins and Superb Fairy Wrens.

4. Hopetoun Falls

  • Starting Point: Hopetoun Falls car park – click HERE for map
  • End Point: Hopetoun Falls car park
  • Distance: From the car park it’s a relatively easy 1km return hike
  • Time to complete: Allow 1 hour for the return hike with plenty of time for photos

The 30m Hopetoun Falls is probably our favourite falls in this region and much quieter than the nearby Little Aire and Triplet Falls. As with Erskine Falls, there is a nearby upper viewpoint, but with obstructed views you’ll definitely want to head down to the base of the falls.

Hopetoun Falls, the Great Otway National Park

These falls really are photogenic. With its fern-fringed banks and mossy rocks, if you like photography, factor in a bit more time here!

Long Exposure at Hopetoun Falls, the Great Otway National Park

5. The Redwoods (Californian Redwoods)

  • Starting Point: The Redwoods car park – click HERE for map
  • End Point: The Redwoods car park
  • Distance: 20m walk from the Redwoods car park
  • Time to complete: Allow 15-20 minutes.

Very close by to Hopetoun Falls, the Redwoods is a nice quick stop. This pocket of Coast Redwoods (Californian Redwoods) is quite different to the surrounding scenery. It was actually planted in 1936 as an experiment and many of the trees now tower over 60 metres tall.

Imbi at The Redwoods, Great Otway National Park

As a massive conifer species, this plantation is devoid of undergrowth and a far cry from the moist and mossy trails of the nearby falls.

The Redwoods, Great Otway National Park

6. Triplet Falls

  • Starting Point: Triplet Falls car park – click HERE for map
  • End Point: Triplet Falls car park
  • Distance: 2km circuit returning to car park
  • Time to complete: Allow about 1 hour to complete the loop**

Triplet falls is probably the most popular waterfall in the region. The 2km circuit of boardwalks and viewing platforms makes this a very accessible and satisfying walk for the whole family. Inevitably because of its accessibility, it feels pretty touristy and can be crowded. Its popularity is well-deserved though, as it is an impressive sight, if somewhat obstructed from the viewing areas. Named Triplet Falls because of 3 separate chutes of water cascading down in three distinct sections, it’s a lovely set of falls. However each time we go the view is further impeded by the vegetation in front of it and you can really only see one section now.

Triplet Falls, Great Otway National Park

Arguably these falls are now best viewed at the waterfalls base. You escape any crowds and it’s amazingly peaceful. Though there is no official path down to the foot of these falls, the more intrepid can get down there with a bit of clambering. Note, this is completely at your own risk and certainly not advisable after heavy rains or in wet slippery conditions.

At the base of Triplet Falls, Great Otway National Park

7. Little Aire Falls

  • Starting Point: Triplet Falls car park – click HERE for map
  • End Point: Triplet Falls car park
  • Distance: 5.2km (returning to the car park) or 7km circuit if including Triplet Falls.
  • Time to complete: Allow 3 hour if incorporating into Triplet Falls Circuit***

A lot of people decide against Little Aire Falls, as they are put off by the 5.2km return to get there. But trust us its, worth it. Yes the trail there is quite hilly and strenuous, but it takes you through some beautiful Otway forest on the way.

Hiking to Little Aire Falls, Great Otway National Park

The 15m Falls are viewed from a metal viewing platform a fair distance across from the falls. And although it’s only a small platform, it seldom gets too busy as Triplet Falls steals the vast majority of the crowds.

Little Aire Falls, Great Otway National Park

8. Henderson Falls

  • Starting Point: Sheoak Falls Picnic Area – click HERE for map
  • End Point: Sheoak Falls Picnic Area
  • Distance: 3.6km return
  • Time to complete: Allow about 1.5hours

A nice easy one. A relatively gentle track 1.8km leads through impressive Eucalypts and past the rather obstructed Won Wondah Falls. Approaching the falls the vegetation become more dense as you’re surrounded by lovely Tree Ferns.

Henderson Falls - Great Otway National Park

It’s possible to combine Henderson Falls with the more impressive Phantoms Falls and The Canyon (see below).

9. Phantom Falls

  • Starting Point: Allenvale Road Carpark – click HERE for map
  • End Point: Allenvale Road Carpark
  • Distance: 3.6km return
  • Time to complete: Allow about 1.5hours

Phantom Falls is a picturesque 15m waterfall. Once described as a ‘hidden gem’ it isn’t these days and it’s no real surprise. Still it’s relatively quiet compared to some of the other big falls in the area and visit on a weekday and you can often have it to yourself. A lovely spot for a picnic, we suggest bringing a picnic along with you.

Phantom Falls - Great Otway National Park

There are several routes into this waterfall and if you’re keen for a longer scenic route then we recommend combining this falls with the above Henderson Falls, which takes you via The Canyon. Starting at Sheoak Picnic Area its about an 11km return hike or a slightly shorter circuit, which you can start from either the Sheoak Picnic Area or Allenvale (Mill) Campsite.

The Canyon - Great Otway National Park

10. Lower Kalimna Falls

  • Starting Point: Sheoak Falls Picnic Area – click HERE for map
  • End Point: Sheoak Falls Picnic Area
  • Distance: 7.5km return (9.5km if incorporating Upper Kalimna Falls)
  • Time to complete: 2hours (2.5hours if incorporating Upper Kalimna Falls)

An easy to follow trail leads you to Lower Kalimna Falls. After about 3km the trail forks with the right trail taking to the lower section of the falls. This falls is really is quite different to the others. Spilling over the ledge above into a mossy rock and fern-fringed pool below.

Lower Kalimna Falls - Great Otway National Park

The cave-like overhanging rock ledge allows you to safely and easily wonder in behind the falls for a different perspective too.

Behind Lower Kalimna Falls - Great Otway National Park

The Lower Kalimna Falls Track is along an old timber tramway and running parallel to the fern clad creek it’s a lovely walk in and out.

Hiking to Lower Kalimna Falls - Great Otway National Park

As the name ‘Lower Kalimna’ eludes to there is an ‘Upper Kalimna’, but at the time of our visit the trail to the upper section of these 15m falls was closed due to a damaged track.

11. Cora Lynn Cascades

  • Starting Point: Blanket Leaf Picnic Area on Erskine Falls Road – click HERE for map
  • End Point: Blanket Leaf Picnic Area
  • Distance: 5.5km return
  • Time to complete: Allow about 1.5hours

A little set of cascading waterfalls close to Erskine Falls. Cora Lynn Cascades is most easily reached from Blanket Leaf Picnic Area on Erskine Falls Road. Be warned it’s downhill all the way down to the falls, meaning a long uphill slog on the way back. But after the rains these little pretty falls are well worth the effort in our opinion. And there’s a good chance you’ll have them all to yourself.

Cora Lynn Cascades

The Cascades can also be reached on a longer trail from Allenvale (Mill) Campsite, but we were told by rangers, that most of the signage for this track was washed away in flooding.

Wildlife of the Great Otway National Park

From the iconic eucalyptus forests and towering redwood plantations, to the moist and mossy fern gullies and picturesque plunging waterfalls, the Great Otway National Park has truly diverse habitat. And with this habitat diversity, comes a huge range of wildlife, a lot of which is pretty easily found!


Koala sightings can be pretty much guaranteed in The Otway National Park. The famous Kennet River on The Great Ocean Road is a koala hotspot. But there’s plenty of other places to find them all over the park. One of our favourite area’s is on the way down to the Cape Otway Lighthouse on the Light House Road (C157). On this quiet road and around the grounds of Bimbi Park – Camping Under Koalas keep your eyes peeled you’ll have a far more intimate experience with the Australian icon.

Koala in the Great Otway National Park

Kangaroos & Wallabies

The different terrain generally dictates where you’ll find the different macropods. The paddocks around aforementioned Light House Road (C157), are a good spot to see the Eastern Grey Kangaroo’s in largish groups, known as ‘mobs’. Drive slowly and look carefully along the tree line and you’ll usually see them there.

Eastern Grey Kangaroo, The Great Otway National Park
Eastern Grey Kangaroos in the mist off Light House Road

In contrast, the very similar looking but solitary Red-Necked Wallabies are far more elusive. If you come across one, it will usually be on the edges of dry forest. Early mornings or evenings are the best times to see them and when we have it’s been in the quieter parts of Lorne around Allenvale Road. We’ve seen them far less frequently than the Swamp Wallabies.

Red-Necked Wallaby, The Great Otway National Park
Red-Necked Wallaby

The Swamp (Black) Wallabies tend to be seen in the thicker undergrowth. Occasionally you’ll come across one on a trail, but more often than not, you’ll see them on the roadside when driving from waterfall to waterfall. On a recent overnight visit here, we saw 5 Black Wallabies over the two days.

Swamp Wallaby sunrise
Swamp (Black) Wallaby

Trouble telling the 3 of them apart? Check out our ‘Wildlife of The Grampians’ HERE for some tips on easy ways to spot the differences.

Bird life

If you like birds, the Otway’s are packed full. Scattered throughout the park in the varying habitats – costal scrub, wet forest and heathlands you can find several hundred species. Other than the previously mentioned Pink and Eastern Yellow Robins, there’s also both Rose and Scarlet Robins found here. Some other more easily seen birds include different Honeyeaters and Fantails, Superb Fairy-Wrens, Kookaburra and Australia’s largest bird of prey, the Wedge-Tailed Eagle.

Laughing Kookaburra
Rufous Fantail
Rufous Fantail

Of the more ‘exciting’ Psittaciformes (Cockatoo’s and Parrots) look out for the colourful and commonly seen Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo, Galah, King Parrots, Eastern Rosella, Crimson Rosella and our favourites, the Gang-gangs.

Eastern Rosella - Great Otway National Park
Eastern Rosella
Galah - Great Otway National Park

One other unique bird seen here is the Satin Bowerbird. The males have glossy blue-black plumage and the females duller grey-green colour, both have striking blue eyes. But what makes these birds particularly interesting isn’t their looks, but their home decorating skills! The male Bowerbirds are renowned for building and then decorating their stick bowers with anything shiny and blue that they can get their beaks on, in order to lure in females. The Allenvale (Mill) Campground and Lake Elizabeth are two places we’ve seen them.


There are plenty of reptiles in the Great Otway National Park. Snakes including Lowland Copperheads, Tiger Snakes and the White-lipped Snake can occasionally be seen here. And, Lizards and Skinks are frequently found. Keep an eye-out for Blue-Tongue Lizards, Jacky Dragons and Water Skinks which are all pretty common.

Water Skink
Water Skink

Getting to/from and around

The only way to see the wildlife and waterfalls of the Great Otway National Park properly, is by car. There’s no public transport or shuttles servicing the area and many of these places aren’t visited as part of organised tours. A private tour would be a good option if you don’t have access to a car.


There’s numerous little towns to stay around the Great Otway National Park. Where you stay really depends what you want to see and where you want to base yourself.

Our absolute favourite is undoubtedly Bimbi Park – Camping Under Koalas. The name says it all, this holiday park has resident Koala’s in the surrounding Eucalyptus trees! It’s a peaceful and perfect location with a variety of accommodation styles to suit everyones needs.

For those on a budget and happy with basic camping locations like us, then checkout Allenvale (Mill) Campground, this is another of our favourites. Nestled on the banks of St George River just behind Lorne, this lovely quiet campground is a great location for hikes, waterfalls, beach and wildlife. The nearby St George River is another place we’ve been lucky enough to see the amazing Platypus. At dusk and dawn look carefully in the suitable sections of this river and you may see one of these bizarre creatures.

Best time to visit

The summer months of December – February offer the warmest temperatures and are considered the best time to visit The Great Otways National Park by many. This is also the peak season, particularly school holidays from mid-December to end of January and is also the busiest time to visit.

Early Spring and early Autumn in our opinion is a better time to visit, as there are less crowds yet still nice weather. Winter usually brings cold, rainy and windy days and can be unpleasant time to visit. Having said that, Victoria’s weather is temperamental and can change without warning!

Try to avoid weekends, particularly in peak season, as these areas will be much, much busier. If you have flexibility in your schedule, check the weather forecast in advance and try to plan around the rain and wind!

How much time do you need

This really depends on how much time you have! But if you’re tossing up between 1 or 2 days then we’d definitely recommend the latter. There is so much to see and do, give yourself as much time as you can. Trust us, you’ll want to stay longer! We recommend combining a visit to the Otway National Park with a drive along The Great Ocean Road, so allow 3-4 days for all of this.

Don’t miss our guide – 18 stops along The Great Ocean Road

Essential information and packing tips

  • Drive carefully, especially at dawn and dusk as Roo’s and Wallabies are particularly active at this time. Use some common sense. These bouncy creatures can jump in front of your car in a split second. ‘Reduce your speed by 10 km an hour and reduce your risk of hitting wildlife by 20%!’ Wildlife Victoria.
  • During the summer months, bushfires can occur in the surrounding areas. For details on bushfire activity click HERE
  • Some of the inland roads are narrow and unsealed. You will need to drive much slower on these roads, so allow extra time.
  • Take some warm clothes and wet weather gear. The weather can change very quickly here and it can get very wet and windy.
  • Take sturdy shoes. If it has been raining, the trails will be muddy and slippery.
  • Take a refillable water bottle and do your bit to minimise plastic waste, as well as saving the pennies.
  • Pack Reef-friendly sunscreen. The Australian sun is brutal.
  • Don’t forget a hat and sunnies
  • Charge you camera batteries/phone.

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