Otway Ranges

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The Otways are a heavily forested range running along the southern coastline of Victoria. The major features of the area are its rainforest and numerous waterfalls - the range contains more than half of all the waterfalls in the state. At the last election the government promised to create a national park to protect the range but this has not yet happened. There are no regnised overnight walks and local bushwalkers have a variety of routes they use. The more popular overnight walks are the tracks to the waterfalls around Lorne (camping restrictions apply), Cape Otway and Joanna Beach and the Upper Cumberland Falls area. If planning an overnight walk in this range you will need either local knowledge or a careful study of the Geelong Bushwalking Clubs book (see Books - Victoria) to plan a trip.


The ranges were extensively logged for timber in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Timber tramways ran up most valleys and the remains of these formations are used as the base for many of the walking tracks. While the Otways has always been known for its waterfalls a recent move by the conservation movement has been to push for protection of the range and its many beautiful waterfalls. This has been because logging has changed from selective logging where they take out individual trees to clear felling where the area is left bare. While clear felling is cheaper and easier for the loggers its not surprising why conservationists regard the type of logging as unacceptable and hence the push for protection of as much of the range as possible. There is currently a national park but it only protects a small area around Cape Otway and does not contain any major sections of rainforest or any of the major waterfalls.


100km south-west of Melbourne


From Melbourne, follow the Princes Highway to Geelong then head south following the Great Ocean Road through Torquay to Angelsea. The road then follows the southern edge of the range south-west to Cape Otway and provides acces to many sections of the range.

Maps and Track Notes

There is a good guide book to most of the day walks in the ranges Walking The Otways by Geelong Bushwalking Club. The VICMAP Outdoor Leisure Series - 1:50,000 The Otways & Shipwreck Coast is a good overall map. There are also 1:25,000 maps available to all parts of the range but they are generally older and not up-to-date.


None required for walking. Behind Lorne, camping restrictions apply on the popular day walking tracks. Further inland away from the popular tracks there are no restrictions.

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Photographs and text are copyright 1999-2015 John Chapman.
Last updated : December 8th 2015