The rich Otway Forest covers a whopping 100,000 hectares of diverse landscapes and is accessible all along the Great Ocean Road. The Otways, as it is otherwise known, also contains the Great Otway National Park, a vast, lush area near Cape Otway.
The beautiful and winding Great Ocean Road runs right down the coast along the forest’s length to also incorporate beaches and miles of walking trails. Some of the best forest scenery in the country can be enjoyed here, where there is a rich variety of plant and animal life.
Along with some great walks, such as Maits Rest, with its giant ferns, and the Otway Fly Treetop Walk in the south, are stunning waterfalls. The Triplet Falls are an amazing cascade and are accessible by a natty walkway.
Cape Otway is the top draw of the Otway Forest, the southernmost point here. It encompasses forest, cliffs and beaches and you can zoom across part of it via the Otway Fly Treetop. Cape Otway Lightstation is another main attraction down this way, and if you’re near Lorne, consider side-tripping to Lake Elizabeth.
A plethora of wildlife inhabits this lush forest, including sizeable koala communities, all sorts of stunning bird species—seen from hidden lookouts—and whales and dolphins close to shore. There are even glow worms at Melba Gully, towards the western end of the forest.
While the Otway Forest is huge and mostly kept in its natural state, you can stay at a number of useful towns along the Great Ocean Road, which offers direct access. Anglesea, Lorne and Apollo Bay are all excellent and Torquay and Port Campbell are also within reach. Camping is best at Blanket Bay, Aire River and Johanna.
You can access the forest from both the Melbourne and Adelaide sides. The Great Ocean Road provides the best access, including to the Great Otway National Park portion of the forest in the south.
Otway Fly Treetop Walk
One of the most thrilling activities in the Great Ocean Road region is the Otway Fly (Treetop Walk), a high walkway and zip-line system up near the canopy of the Otway Forest. Good for all the family and for adventurists, it is definitely worth a detour if you’re in the area and they have a good café here, too.
The Treetop Walk is a series of elevated walkways securely strung up in the forest. They stretch for a good 600m, a whopping 30m above the forest floor, and take in all sorts of views, flora and fauna. The pièce de résistance is the 45-metre high dedicated lookout tower, which is incorporated in the system.
The entire walk from the visitor centre is a shade under two kilometres and can be done at moderate speed in an hour, or less. There are all sorts of panels and display boards to educate visitors on the walk, along with strategically placed dinosaurs for kids at ground level.
While the Treetop Walk is right up there with the best of its kind in the world, those looking for a thrill should also try the Otway Fly. You get to zip from platform (or cloud station) to platform for three hours. But don’t worry; it’s perfectly safe as everyone is firmly strapped in with safety harnesses.
Other activities at the Otway Fly Treetop Walk include bushwalking, bird watching and abseiling and you can organise a guide for a comprehensive walk through the stunning Otway Forest. Afterwards, the visitor centre café does good food and has plenty of parking spaces for cars and campers.
Apollo Bay is the closest town, about an hour’s drive via scenic road through the Otway Forest. Coming from Geelong, it’s best to use the Princes Highway going through Colac, about two hours. Apollo Bay, Lorne and Anglesea all have hotels, or you could book accommodation and stay in the national park.