From the basalt plains to the north, the park stretches down through lush tall rainforests toward the protected Marine National Parks of the Southern Ocean. Here visitors can experience the truly neck-craning majesty of the Mountain Ash - the world's tallest flowering hardwood tree. Some of the specimens to be found here are said to be 400 years old.

Another new tourist stop - a treetop walk known as The Otway Fly - gives visitors an alternative means of experiencing the majesty of the natural forest of Mountain Ash, Tree Fern and ancient Myrtle Beech from the platform of a 47 metre high tower and cantilevered walkway.

Ever-present as an Otways drawcard are the numerous waterfalls that cascade off the many rocky escarpments into deep ferny gullies. Given that the area receives the state's highest levels of rainfall - with averages of up to two metres a year – the high concentration of waterfalls is hardly surprising. The Hopetoun, Beauchamp, Stevenson and Triplet Falls constitute some of the prettiest postcard destinations that Victoria has to offer, yet amongst some favourites are the coastal cascades of Kalimna falls, Sheoak Falls and Erskine Falls around Lorne.

The region supports an abundance of native wildlife, from Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Black Wallabies and Koalas, right through to Short Beaked Echidnas, Swamp Antechinus and Spot-tailed Quolls. Platypus are present in most of the park's rivers, but there are more to be found in the beautiful Lake Elizabeth than anywhere else.

But not all of the natural attractions of the region come in big packages – it is the subtle phenomena such as “glow worms” that add to the parks appeal as well, looking not unlike galaxies of tiny stars somehow caught beneath the trees. Some of the best places to see these light shows are at Melba Gully, in the ferny glades near Lavers Hill, up in the hills behind Apollo Bay and on the walk into Lake Elizabeth near Forrest.

Because there is an increased focus on tourism, the conservation efforts will be balanced with many recreational outlets and opportunities. In the forest park area for instance, there will be sites for four-wheel driving, dog walking, kayaking and horse riding.

The Otways National Park is a truly fascinating place!

Image above: 

- The Otways has many waterfalls like this to enjoy!


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