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Great Otway National Park
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrGreat Otway National Park is located about 150 kilometers southwest of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia. The national park, that is often called ‘The Otways’ covers more than 100,000 hectares and stretches from the town of Torquay (famous for surfing) through the Otway hinterlands to Colac. The magnificent Great Ocean Road is one of the greatest road trips in the world and runs through the national park.
The varied landscapes of Great Otway National Park consist of spectacular rugged coastlines, sandy beaches, heathlands and rocky outcrops. In the north the national park contains tall eucalypt forests, valleys covered with ferns, still lakes and roaring waterfalls. The park contains the green hills of the ancient Otway Range. Rising up to 650 meters high, this coastal range takes up most of the rains coming from the Southern Ocean. The hills are covered in wet eucalypt forests and temperate rainforests. The amount of rainfall results in an abundance of lakes, mountain streams, rivers and waterfalls. Great Otway National Park is one of the wettest places in the state of Victoria and has typical vegetation. Tall ferns cover the forests floor, as fungi and mosses grow on trees. Incidentally, the park has an extremely rich diversity of fungi. The heathlands are home to many wildflowers and some exquisite orchid species. Grasstrees and she-oaks also grow in those dryer heathlands. Along the coastline, potholes and rock platforms and pools provide a habitat for various seaweeds, starfish and shellfish.
The number mammal species that have been spotted in Great Otway National Park is thirty-six. The waters off the coast are home to thirteen other mammal species. Examples of both are echidnas, possums, wallabies, platypuses, kangaroos, southern right whales, dolphins, humpback whales, seals and even blue whales. The area around Kennett River is probably one of the best places to spot koalas in Australia. In addition the national park is also an Important Bird Area, supporting populations of many species.
HistoryThe Gadubanud Aboriginal people have fished, hunted and lived in these regions for thousands of years. In the early 1800s European sealers and whalers started operating along the shores of Cape Otway. In 1848 the Cape Otway Lightstation was built and the logging of the large mountain ash trees was the beginning of development in the area. The land was cleared for cattle grazing. Development pushed back the population of Aboriginals and diseases killed many. Logging went on for about 150 years, with a peak in production in the 1960s. Now, logging has been reduced dramatically. Great Otway National Park was declared in 2004 after combining several smaller state parks and state forests.
Things to See and DoThe park offers a wide range of activities, from active adventurous to more leisurely and relaxing. Visitors can go bushwalking, surfing, sea kayaking, fishing and canoeing, but can also visit lighthouses, picnic, go bird watching, road tripping or wildlife spotting. Spending time on one of many sandy beaches and soaking up the sun is an option as well.
Hiking is one of the most popular activities in Great Otway National Park, just like it is in most of the national parks in Australia. There are many easy boardwalks leading through a variety of environments, but also some great beach walks. The ultimate hike, however, is the Great Ocean Walk, a 91-kilometer hike along the stunning coastline. This multiday hike passes through the national park and runs along Marine National Park. There are several side trails as well, allowing for more exploration.
There are countless picnic spots throughout the park, several of them near spectacular waterfalls and offering great camping opportunities. An example of a stunning waterfall in the national park is Erskine Falls. Great picnic areas are found at Moggs Creek, Melba Gully, Blanket Leaf, Shelly Beach, Triplet Falls and at many other places.
Addition activities include horseback riding, mountain biking and heritage tours. The one major highlight of the area, however, is the phenomenal Great Ocean Road, truly one of the greatest roads on the planet.
How to Get ThereGreat Otway National Park is located about 150 kilometers southwest of Melbourne. From the state’s capital the national park can be reached via the Princes Freeway to Geelong and the Great Ocean Road. An alternative is via the Princes Highway to Winchelsea and Deans Marsh Road to the town of Lorne; or via the Princes Highway to Colac and then south to the national park.
Great Otway National Park can also be reached on foot on the fabulous long-distance Great Ocean Walk.
Similar LandmarksOther parks in the Great Ocean Road area are Port Campbell National Park and Bay of Islands Coastal Parks. Similar rainforest scenery is found in Lower Glenelg National Park. On the other side of Australia, Daintree National Park contains the world’s oldest tropical rainforest.
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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Oct 24, 2014