01 September 2018
WALKS, WILDLIFE & NATURAL ATTRACTIONS OF THE GREAT OCEAN ROADby SHERYL ALLEN
Walks, wildlife and natural attractions of the Great Ocean Road
Wild things make my heart sing. For me, it’s a spring thing – that new-season urge to get out and explore new places, commune with nature and re-centre myself.
Nowhere does spring better than the Great Ocean Road region, where nature and wild creatures know no bounds. From wedge-tail eagles to wallabies, from clifftop adventures to riverside strolls, and from towering forests to ocean-carved coastlines, there are countless ways to go natural. These are a few of my favourite spring things.
Blow off those winter cobwebs with a laid-back stroll along the Anglesea Riverbank. Amidst the tranquillity, there’s mini-adventure to be had: paddleboat fun, canoeing or poking around the public art along the 1.6km section of the Surf Coast Walk. You don’t need to venture far from the café strip to appreciate this easy, do-able walk.
I step up the pace with the Princetown to 12 Apostles leg of the famous Great Ocean Walk. The stunning, slow reveal of wave-crashed rock stacks as you round the clifftop is unforgettable. No need to backtrack – at the 12 Apostles Car Park, board the free 12Amorningexpress bus (weekdays during school term) to Princetown, then let the story unfold on your 7km discovery walk.
Spring evenings are made for torch-light treks on the Melba Gully Loop Walk (near Lavers Hill). Allow around 45 minutes for a secret after-dark exploration of Anne’s Cascades, soaring trees alive with nocturnal critter chatter, and fern gullies sparkling with glow-worms.
Where the wild things are.
They’re closer than you think! At Anglesea Golf Course, the roos are right there grazing on the greens. Take a 30-minute Kangaroo Tour and get amongst them.
At Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve (Koroit) get close to some of Australia’s most iconic feathery and furry creatures including emus, koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, reptiles, wedge-tail eagles and magpie geese. It’s a sublime setting for authentic close-range viewing of wildlife in natural habitat. Explore on your own or opt for a guided tour (day or twilight).
Wander along the Princetown Boardwalk to spy intriguing birdlife and kangaroos grazing on the Gellibrand River’s estuarine flats. Visit at dawn or dusk and experience the spiritual beauty of this natural environment. Follow-up with a visit to nearby Great Ocean Road Wildlife Park and get ticking off your list of Aussie animal must-meets.
Natural eye candy.
I call it “eye candy” because it’s my sweetspot for re-energising – standing among nature’s beauty. You’ll find it here in all its glory.
Deep in the Otways, an unexpected plantation of Californian redwoods stretch 60 metres into the sky. Wandering among them, you’re dwarfed by nature, yet very much at one with the world.
Tower Hill’s volcanic landscape is an other-worldly place of crater lakes, cones and spheres, all fringed by thriving vegetation and wildlife habitats. The look-out view is magical.
It takes me a good couple of days to get a feel for spring, the longer days, the glorious sunsets, the pre-breakfast sojourns. Why rush? This region boasts a plethora of close-to-nature places to stay.
In the east, Serenity Torquay Holiday Rentals offer stunning ocean views. Relax and wake up in a luxurious beachside getaway, just a stone’s throw from long walks on the beach.
In the west, hook up with Hearn’s Port Fairy Accommodation for a holiday home or studio with absolute beach frontage – see (and hear) the waves as you re-set to nature’s rhythm. Sigh.