Great Otway National Park | Adventure through Beech Forest

If you’ve never heard of the Otway’s, consider yourself lucky to stumble across this post! The Great Otway National Park is located along the Great Ocean Road between Port Campbell and Lorne, now we know you have heard of this. Probably the most famous road trip Australia has to offer. This National Park stretches 1,032km2, from the rugged coastline through to the mountain ranges, there was but one area that stood out above all else for us.

That area was Beech Forest. Providing some awesome waterfalls and swimming holes, not to mention the very unique Californian Redwood Forest. There is much to do and see here.

While it would be great to get out and explore the entire national park, based on the size, you would need over a week to accomplish this. We get this may be possible for some, however, the majority of us don’t have the luxury of time on our side. Hence, we recommend concentrating your time in and around Beech Forest!

This has been our favourite national park to date for several reasons. Firstly, if we haven’t made it clear to you, we DON’T like crowds! Especially not when we’re in nature. Fortunately the Great Otway National Park was almost deserted, bringing a welcomed break from the amount of people we encountered exploring the best attractions along the Great Ocean Road.

Secondly, what we do like is waterfalls! And here in Beech Forest there is no shortage of them. In fact, these waterfalls were stunning and delivered some awesome swimming holes, if you’re daring enough to brave the water.

And finally, the density. While we didn’t venture on any secret hikes, the main walks we journeyed on provided some of the most colourful and peaceful rainforest scenes we have witnessed here in the land down under.

walking across a fallen californian redwood in the great otway national park

That being said, here’s a look at our favourite stops.

To begin, we turned off the highway at Binns Road and followed the winding dirt roads through the Great Otway National Park. Don’t let this deter you. The roads are in superb condition, directing you through the heart of the rainforest.


After enjoying our first drive through the Otways, we stopped off at the Californian Redwoods. All we could say was WOW! The Redwoods are the biggest trees we’ve come across – in Australia at least – standing up to 60 meters tall.

straight and vertical californian redwoods in the otway national park
unique voodoo circle at the californian redwoods in the great otway national park

The most impressive part is how perfectly straight they are. They are a sight to behold, almost appearing fake due to this nature. Not only does this create an unworldly effect, it also makes climbing them a tedious task. That didn’t stop Candace though. She’s never met a tree she couldn’t scale…

attempting to climb a californian redwood in the great otway national park

… She couldn’t attempt to scale, we should say.

However, the trees are not the only enticing feature. The forest floor is made a deep red by the shedding bark and falling leaves. And being located next to the Aire River, you’ll notice the moist, soft surface underfoot. This has resulted in the growth of various types of fungi.

Now for some of us this is not a good thing…

That’s right, Dylan took a tumble. Maybe Nike’s aren’t as good as they claim? Or maybe he’s just useless!

He isn’t the only thing to have fallen. Some of the massive trees have come crashing down, consequently, creating natural bridges across the river. Did you really think slipping was going to deter Dylan? Of course he walked across one. In hindsight, this may have been a stupid idea, as he was already supporting a broken thumb.

slipping over on the moist ground at the californian redwoods in the great otway national park
balancing on a fallen californian redwood above the Aire rive at the great otway national park

If the Californian Redwoods isn’t on your list, you may want to add it in! Even if trees aren’t your forte, a break from driving will be required sooner or later and this enchanted forest provides a much nicer scenery to stretch your legs, don’t you think?


After experiencing something new, it was time to return to familiar waters and check out some stunning waterfalls.

Not 5 minutes up the road, you’ll pretty well drive straight into the Hopetoun Falls carpark. There is a viewing platform just a short walk from your car, however not much of a vantage point can be gained from this location. Begin by snaking down the stairs until you reach the valley floor. This must first be accomplished before gaining the chance to get up close and personal with Mother Nature. By the way, don’t listen to the sign. This is a very easy walk, only 30 minutes return. Just avoid leaning on the hand rails…

broken handrail on the hopetoun falls walking track staircase in the great otway national park

YAY! You’ve made it to the viewing platform! What’s that? Still not impressed? Ok did you really think we would stop there? Pop over the handrail (carefully of course) and make your way along the forest floor. After 50m of trudging through the shrubbery and stepping over stones, you’ve finally reached the destination. We meant it when we said get up nice and close with Mother Nature!

Just be prepared to get wet.

While swimming is definitely a possibility here, you may want to stay as dry as possibly for now. The amount of submerged rocks doesn’t make this the best option for a dip.

One of the best things about Beech Forest above all else is, EVERYTHING is so close. No need to drive for hours, allowing more time to explore the beautiful surroundings.

close up of hopetoun falls in the great otway national park


Beauchamp Falls is a 15 minute drive to the east. As we said, it’s CLOSE. Recent logging caused confusion between us on our journey in, although looking back, it couldn’t have been more straight forward. All that’s needed is to follow Beauchamp Falls Road until you reach the end. Simples!

Once you’ve reached the picnic area and utilised the public toilets, prepare yourself for the difficult 1.5 hour round trip to the falls. Seriously, we don’t know who comes up with these ratings. The walk is extremely well maintained, creating an easy trail to venture along. Being relatively level a majority of the way, with the exception of one small incline on the return journey. We would hardly call this one difficult, managing to complete our Beauchamp Falls adventure in one hour.

While the Beauchamp Falls walking track is easy, this doesn’t have an impact on the beautifully enchanted rainforest essence created by large myrtle beech, Blackwood trees and thick ferns.

Again, there is a viewing platform right next to the falls, but what fun is that? Duck off to the left just before reaching the platform and scramble your way along the rocks for a closer look at the LARGEST of our favourite waterfalls in Beech Forest.

Here’s where you should have a swim. As was mentioned at the start of this post, you’d better be brave because the water is freezing. Sadly, Dylan didn’t pack his Budgie Smugglers, so you aren’t going to get a cheeky snapshot. Maybe next time!

beauchamp falls from the viewing platform in the great otway national park


From there, we called it a day and decided to find somewhere to pack it in for the night. Stevenson’s Falls campsite wasn’t far, so we thought we would take a chance there. What a great decision. The campsite was massive, the largest in the Great Otway National Park and we had the whole place to ourselves. Providing toilets, fire pits and most importantly, a local dog! After playing with him for an hour or so, we set up and settled in for a cosy night.

camper van set up while camping at stevensons falls campground in the great otway national park

We know we told you that Beech Forest was our favourite area, and technically, Stevenson’s Falls isn’t part of that. But it’s only a stone’s throw away… so whatever. Sue us!

A little funny story for you…(we’re sure there will be at least one in every post) We’re all set up, I’ve (Dylan) just hung the lights up in the awning, plugged them in inside the van and informed Candace.

I specifically said to her “DON’T shut the door”. Guess what? I shut the door… yep, not 5 minutes after telling her. How stupid does that make me look? Do you think I’ll live that one down?

Here’s the end result:

broken 12v cigarette lighter plug while we were travelling through the great otway national park
Candace making friends with the stevensons falls local labrador in the great otway national park

Our little Labrador friend expressed my feelings perfectly and with no more lights it was definitely time for bed. Good thing I’m an electrician huh?

With our extravagant brekky and coffee as usual, we set off nice and early.

An easy 2km path is available to either walk or ride a bike to gain access to Stevensons Falls but we were feeling lazy that day. We decided to take the cowards way and drive the 2km. Pretty pathetic looking back on ourselves!

The walk to the falls, while not quite as exciting in comparison to the other trails we’ve embarked on, still provided picturesque views and a sense of wildness.

open grassland walking track leading to stevensons falls in the great otway national park

Lack of excitement along the walk doesn’t reflect on Stevenson’s Falls at all though. Similar to Hopetoun and Beauchamp, a solid foundation of rushing water has created a marvellous natural wonder. One in which swimming is not only recommended, it’s encouraged! And as always, DON’T JUST SEE IT, EXPERIENCE IT! Get off the path and have a bit of fun. Just watch out for the blackberry bushes!

selfie with a panoramic view of stevensons falls in the great otway national park

There you have it. Our favourite places in Beech Forest, Great Otway National Park. If you were planning on overlooking the Otway’s, we are here to tell you not to. Even if you only have time for one day in here. We assure you, you won’t be disappointed.

TIP OF THE DAY: Wear a rain jacket. We managed to get saturated without even going for a swim!