What’s special

Steep hills rise from a rugged coastline with sandy inlets and support some of Victoria’s tallest mountain ash forests, serene fern gullies and impressive waterfalls.

Best time to visit

Summer is the time for beach activities, surfing and exploring the cool of the mountains, waterfalls and fern gullies, although there can be a severe risk of bushfire. From autumn to spring is ideal for bushwalking, camping and wildflower viewing in the heathlands. The waterfalls are usually at their best in late winter and spring. The Great Ocean Road is an excellent drive at any time, with spectacular coastal and mountain views.

What to do

Magnificent beaches, the spectacular Great Ocean Road drive, outstanding bushwalking in tall forests and fern gullies, waterfall viewing, camping, wildflower and wildlife viewing. The 100km Great Ocean Walk is a hike of from one to 10 days between Apollo Bay and the Twelve Apostles in Port Campbell National Park. Melba Gully is one of the wettest parts of Victoria and its magnificent rainforest with ancient beech trees and glow worm caves are great attractions.


The park is about 110km southwest of Melbourne and extends west along the coast between Point Addis (near Anglesea) and Princetown for more than 100 kilometres. Inland it stretches up to 40km to towns such as Forrest, Beech Forest and Lavers Hill.


A range of accommodation is available in the many coastal townships, including Torquay, Anglesea, Lorne, Apollo Bay and Princetown. There are 17 camping grounds of various sizes and levels of facilities within the park. Some are periodically closed or subject to high demand, so always phone Parks Victoria before you go.

About the park

The Gadubanud (Katabanut) people are the traditional owners of the vast majority of the area, occupying the rainforest plateau and rugged coastline of Cape Otway. Four indigenous peoples, the Wathaurung, Gulidjan, Gadubanud and Kirrae Whurrong, all have strong connections to the area.

The park was established in 1981 but was substantially increased in size in 2002 after the end to commercial logging on public land in the Otway Ranges. Before European settlement, the area boasted some of the tallest trees in the world. Fire and logging have put an end to most of the giants and it may be centuries before the Otways will host such tall forests again.

The Great Ocean Road along the coast provides the most popular access route and is one of the great drives of the world. It gives direct access to most of the beaches, and side roads lead to more coastal spots, tall forests and the area’s many waterfalls.

Natural history

The Cretaceous rocks that form the steep hills were laid down at the time of the dinosaurs. Dinosaur Cove, west of Cape Otway, is just one of seven internationally significant sites in the park.
Today’s landscape formed as the result of extensive uplift that began about 40 million years ago, pushing up the underlying sedimentary rock.

The rich soils and high rainfall support some of Victoria’s tallest mountain ash forests. The park has areas of mixed forest, secluded fern gullies and beautiful heathlands, particularly around Anglesea where they support a host of wildflowers and threatened species. In the bays and rocky inlets, there are sandy beaches, many with great surf and rock platforms.

Included in the park’s 1388 recorded types of plants are 97 rare and threatened species, such as wrinkled buttons, Anglesea grevillea, slender tree-fern, leafy greenhood and the spiral sun-orchid.

Aside from iconic wildlife such as the koala, eastern grey kangaroo and platypus, the park is important for the conservation of threatened species, including the spot-tailed quoll, white-bellied sea eagle, hooded plover and fairy tern.

Friends groups

Friends of the Great Otway National Park
Phone: Parks Victoria office (03) 5237 2502

Friends of the Eastern Otways
Visit online