A Travellerspoint blog

Great Otway National Park to Warrnambool

...via Port Campbell and the rest of the Great Ocean Road

semi-overcast 27 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Back to Oz on SteveJD's travel map.

The weather was kind to us and gave us a really lovely day for the Walks and Waterfalls drive in the national park. Our first stop, not very far along the Great Ocean Road from where we joined it from the Cape Otway road, was Mait's Rest. This was named after a former forestry patrol officer, Maitland Bryant (probably about 100 years ago). The nominal 30 minute short walk took us well over and hour as we found so much of beauty and interest. I hope our photos do it justice. Most of the time we have been able to identify birds using the Pizzey & Knight app (highly recommended) but some I simply couldn't be sure of, so I joined the Facebook group Australian Bird Identification and they have surprised me with some of the IDs.

Boardwalk into the forest

Boardwalk into the forest

Steve showing how large some of the holes in trees can be

Steve showing how large some of the holes in trees can be

A forest giant encrusted with ferns and other growth

A forest giant encrusted with ferns and other growth

Colourful fungi grow on some trees

Colourful fungi grow on some trees

Steve showing the size of one of the fallen trees

Steve showing the size of one of the fallen trees

Lush green tree ferns grow throughout the area

Lush green tree ferns grow throughout the area

Female Golden Whistler (per Australian Bird Identification website)

Female Golden Whistler (per Australian Bird Identification website)

Some of the older trees have twisted into strange shapes over the years

Some of the older trees have twisted into strange shapes over the years

From Mait's Rest we drove east on the Great Ocean Road, through Apollo Bay to Skenes Creek where we found a nice little picnic spot by the creek and took a break for lunch, accompanied by various birds. Skenes Creek was named by George Smythe after a fellow surveyor, A.J. Skene, who became Surveyor-General in 1868.

Red wattle bird

Red wattle bird

Now re-energised we drove inland along some winding roads, heading north then west until we found the turn-off to Hopetoun Falls. There we had a short walk through more beautiful forest down to the foot of the falls which must have a special little eco-system as there were evidently many insects. The birds we saw were numerous and generally very accommodating - thornbills, fantails, yellow robin, a rose robin (as best as I can make out from the poor photo we have) and others that we have not been able to identify. We spent far longer in this lovely spot than we had thought we would but what a gorgeous spot for relaxation and photography.

Hopetoun Falls from above

Hopetoun Falls from above

Steve on his way down to the bottom of the falls

Steve on his way down to the bottom of the falls

Hopetoun Falls

Hopetoun Falls

Female white-browed scrubwren (per Australia Bird Identification website)

Female white-browed scrubwren (per Australia Bird Identification website)

Irrestible trees with lush growth over them

Irrestible trees with lush growth over them

Grey fantail

Grey fantail

Judith waiting for me to catch up on the return journey

Judith waiting for me to catch up on the return journey

It was too much to hope that we could match this idyllic spot but we drove along to Triplet Falls. The steps weaved through the forest up and down so that we had some views but it was difficult to get a decent photo of these falls in their entirety but some of the 'steps' made for very attractive falls to photograph. We enjoyed the walk, again through fabulous forest and the falls were well worth the visit.

Steve on the way to the falls

Steve on the way to the falls

Part of Triplet Falls

Part of Triplet Falls

A remnant of the old saw-milling operations

A remnant of the old saw-milling operations

The return trip was via Laver's Hill (named after Frank and Stephen Laver, settlers from Gippsland who cleared a large amount of land in the area) which proved to be a lovely scenic route. We had hoped to see the lighthouse at Cape Otway and drove down to the cape but found that they had closed at 4:30 and closed meant closed - gated and fenced so that there was no chance to see the lighthouse unless we had hiked over from Bimbi Park. When we got back there we found ourselves involved in a debate with a Chinese gentleman who had parked his campervan outside our cabin, leaving us nowhere to go. He spoke no English but fortunately another Chinese chap nearby was able to explain and we duly parked for the night. By the time this was all resolved, it was way too late to contemplate a walk over rough ground to the lighthouse, so one sight unseen.

Scenery along the Great Ocean Road

Scenery along the Great Ocean Road

Panorama of hay bales in fields near Laver's Hill

Panorama of hay bales in fields near Laver's Hill

Part of dead forest between Cape Otway and Bimbi Park

Part of dead forest between Cape Otway and Bimbi Park

The following day was showery and blustery but we did manage to get the Landcruiser loaded in a dry spell. We drove out onto the Great Ocean Road and after a short while stopped at Melba Gully, a very pretty little picnic spot, apparently the wettest place in Victoria - this I can believe!. In spite of the weather we had a walk around until the footing became too slippery to continue. Here we had yellow robins all around us in the car park. It is believed that a former owner was a music lover who named the area after the great Dame Nellie Melba.

A glimpse of the ocean near Glenaire on the Great Ocean Road

A glimpse of the ocean near Glenaire on the Great Ocean Road

Lichen-encrusted handrail by path at Melba's Rest

Lichen-encrusted handrail by path at Melba's Rest

Eastern yellow robin

Eastern yellow robin

We drove on reached the Twelve Apostles and drove into the huge car park. It was mayhem here with little or no control over vehicle movements but we did eventually get parked and got to the Visitor Centre, in the face of driving rain and a strong southerly wind. We decided that iconic though the Twelve Apostles may be, we did not relish a one kilometre walk in these conditions. We had not come equipped for such wet conditions so drove out and westwards. We had intended to have lunch in Port Campbell but we found most of the restaurants were closed and what was open did not appeal, so drove on to The Arch where there was some stunning and easily accessible scenery.

The Arch from above

The Arch from above

Cliffs to the west of the Arch

Cliffs to the west of the Arch

Nankeen kestrel making use of the wind

Nankeen kestrel making use of the wind

The stretch of road from the Twelve Apostles to just west of Peterborough really lived up to the Great Ocean Road's reputation, in spite of really grotty weather. We had somehow missed Loch Ard Gorge so I can't comment on that but our next stop at London Bridge was another bit of great scenery, even if one span of the bridge had fallen down! We ate our picnic lunch here, in the Beast, before braving the weather to get some photographs of this feature.

London Bridge

London Bridge

Panoramic view of London Bridge and surrounds

Panoramic view of London Bridge and surrounds

The weather was a bit changeable!

The weather was a bit changeable!

We stopped in Peterborough to take photos of the wild weather in the harbour and then continued to the Bay of Martyrs just along the coast. In the absence of any help from the internet, I presume this town was named after the town in Cambridgeshire, England.

Bay of Martyrs

Bay of Martyrs

Bay of Martyrs

Bay of Martyrs

A bit more stormy weather

A bit more stormy weather

A hole in a rock

A hole in a rock

From there we carried on to the Bay of Islands, probably the best bit of coastal scenery we have seen, although some sun and a bright blue sky would have enhanced it all just a bit.

Bay of Islands

Bay of Islands

Panoramic view over the bay

Panoramic view over the bay

Bay of Islands

Bay of Islands

Bay of Islands

Bay of Islands

Bay of Islands

Bay of Islands

This had been quite a long day, not help by the weather, so we were glad to get our cabin at Discovery Parks, Warrnambool. However, we had thought an Economy cabin would suffice for just the two of us but it had the narrowest bathroom we have had yet and the bedroom too was cramped for space. There was no oven, the heater and air conditioning were limited in their effectiveness and the lighting was not great. That said, it was comfortable enough and in a great location so the comments are not complaints but rather caveats for anyone else considering staying here. Warrnambool gains its name from the Aboriginal word for a nearby volcanic cone. Rather confusingly, this name, according to Wikipedia, is interpreted to mean many things including 'land between two rivers', 'two swamps' or 'ample water'. Like many things, it probably makes more sense in context.

The following day we had to spend partly on admin but were delighted to meet and have lunch with Denise, Judith's friend through the 365Project. Denise was very helpful and gave us good advice - it is so good to meet up with someone with local knowledge. We had a drive around the town and then later on out to Thunder Point and Pickering Point. The weather had improved for yesterday but was still not wonderful for photography or, for fair weather walkers, wandering around. Nonetheless, we did have a walk around at Pickering Point (renamed from the original French name Cap du Mont Tabor after a surveyor, William Pickering), leaning into the wind or being hustled along by it when walking the other way.

Denise and Judith in earnest debate

Denise and Judith in earnest debate

Singing honeyeater at Pickering Point

Singing honeyeater at Pickering Point

Our last day in Warrnambool provided some better weather and enjoyed a walk around Lake Pertobe, just next to the caravan park. Lake Pertobe was a swampy area but has been made into a lovely large park with more than one lake, several walks and a children's play area, something for everyone. It seems that Pertobe was derived from an Aboriginal name meaning 'lake' so we have Lake Lake! In Britain, we did much the same with the River Avon as 'avon' is a Welsh word for a river. Back to business, we as usual went on the hunt for birds and saw a good variety. We stopped and chatted with another bird lover and he suggested that we go out to Tower Hill, which had been on our agenda, but first to go to Rutledge Cutting to see the endangered hooded plovers.

Black swan with cygnet

Black swan with cygnet

New Holland honeyeater in banksia

New Holland honeyeater in banksia

Grey shrike-thrush with insect

Grey shrike-thrush with insect

We couldn't find Rutledge Cutting but in the same area came on Beaufort Reserve where a short walk over the dunes took us onto the beach and close to the fenced off area where the hooded plovers were nesting. In this area we saw lapwings (which used to be called plovers) and plovers (which used to be called dotterels) as well as parents and chicks of the hooded plovers. These changes in bird names have occurred while we were
living in England, so please excuse the odd lapse into 'old' terminology, it is all very confusing for the layman. While in this area we had a picnic lunch in the shelter of the dunes as it was a bit breezy and chatted to a number of dog walkers who were surprised to come across a WA vehicle in this area.

Steve on the beach

Steve on the beach

Red-capped dotterel

Red-capped dotterel

Two hooded plovers

Two hooded plovers

Tower Hill State Game Reserve is about 14km west of Warrnambool. The 'hill' is the rim of an extinct volcano and the reserve is principally tucked down inside the crater around the crater lakes. The volcanic formation is the largest example of a nested 'maar' in Victoria, 'maar' being the name for a broad lake in a volcanic crater (this was all new to me, so I am just passing the information on!). Fairly soon after the area was settled by Europeans, much of the area inside the crater was cleared for farming and other non-sympathetic activities. Fortunately, an Austrian artist, Eugene von Guerard, had painted a view from the rim in 1855, before clearing had taken place. When the whole area was made a reserve in 1961, the Fisheries and Wildlife Department were able to develop a planting scheme using von Guerard's painting as a guide. Our first move was to drive around the rim, through the small town of Koroit (an abbreviation and simplification of the name of the Aboriginal people who lived in the area before European settlement), gaining excellent views over the inside of the crater. Koroit describes itself as an Irish village and certainly there is much evidence of Irish festivities and other activities. We continued round and drove down into the crater itself where around the lakes we found plenty of walking areas and were able to see many birds. At the centre of the crater is the Visitor Centre which is informative, sells much-needed ice cream and has emus and kangaroos roaming around, evidently habituated to the many visitors. On our way out, an echidna ambled across the road and up onto the embankment where it quickly disappeared. As the echidna appeared, Judith grabbed her camera but it had stopped working at that moment so we left with only a mental picture.

Panoramic view over the crater

Panoramic view over the crater

Part of the crater lake

Part of the crater lake

Heavily eroded face of part of the crater wall

Heavily eroded face of part of the crater wall

Black-headed stilt

Black-headed stilt

Field of sunlit teasels

Field of sunlit teasels

Cross-eyed emu by the Visitor Centre

Cross-eyed emu by the Visitor Centre

From Tower Hill, we drove back into Warrnambool to meet Denise for a cuppa and a walk along the breakwater where we chatted to several fishermen who had enjoyed varying degrees of fishing fortune. In the harbour we glimpsed a seal but it didn't come up to the boat ramp where Denise got a great photo some time after we had left the area. Most Friday's we have fish and chips and Denise recommended Parker's in the town. As usual her recommendation was spot on and we had a delicious dinner. Back in the park we had a treat as we heard some music and found in the camp kitchen that a group called The String Famly were giving a concert (in exchange for a free night's accommodation). They were excellent and we only wish we had known they were playing there as we only caught their last few numbers. Still, a lovely end to our stay in Warrnambool.

Breakwater and harbour

Breakwater and harbour

Pair of silver gulls

Pair of silver gulls

Denise and Judith on the breakwater

Denise and Judith on the breakwater

Very neat two-master moored in the harbour

Very neat two-master moored in the harbour

The String Family in the community kitchen

The String Family in the community kitchen

Posted by SteveJD 08:38 Archived in Australia

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Comments

As always, wonderful photos. I would love to see all those birds for real.

by Gill Geraghty

I've finally caught up with your diary!! You are doing an amazing detailed account of your travels which is great. Thank you for coming to visit me :) 365 is such a great site where it is possible to meet up with people from across the world!

by Denise Wood

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