Great Otway National Park, Victoria
Formed in 2005 through the amalgamation of various former state park and forest areas, the Great Otway National Park is home to some 372 fauna species, including 77 rare and threatened species. Keep on the lookout for iconic species such as the koala, eastern grey kangaroo and platypus, and if you’re lucky you might even spot the elusive spotted-tailed quoll.
Bushwalking: The Great Ocean Walk (100km in its entirety) passes through the national park and small sections can be conquered during your stay with the options of daylong or overnight hikes. Snaking through tall rainforests and coastal heathlands the walk is brimming with native flora and fauna, and bird watching opportunities. With campsites scattered along the trail you will have a number of options once night falls.
Horse riding: The natural beauty of the national park can also be appreciated on horseback through the abundant roads and trails on offer. Some tracks require a horse-riding permit.
Mountain biking: To the north of the park is the small village Forrest, which is surrounded with a maze-like abundance of mountain bike trails. With a combined total of 60km in trails (including a 12km loop trail) that weave through beautiful bushlands there are options to suit seasoned mountain bike riders to families.
Water sports: The Aire River campground provides a great starting point for kayakers to paddle down the river and into the open ocean. For smaller adventurers, flat sections of the river are ideal for canoeing, while Black Bay has a lot of great rock pools to explore.
In the treetops: Both the Zipline Tour and Treetop Walk allow you to appreciate the ecosystem of the Otway rainforest from a different perspective. The Treetop Walk is a 1.9km walk experience that makes its way through the rainforest, culminating in a 600m-long, 30m-high treetop canopy walkway.
If you prefer the high views and a bit of a rush the Zipline Tour involves flying on a series of cables spanning from one platform to another, 30m above the forest floor. Available for children over four years of age and a minimum of 105cm in height, it is an activity the whole family can enjoy.
Both of these experiences can be booked online.
Location: Great Otway National Park is located roughly 200km (a three-hour drive) west of Melbourne. Make the journey along the Great Ocean Road, which hugs the coastline and makes its way through quaint seaside towns. This road itself is worth a couple of days’ exploration.
Accommodation: Campsites catering for both caravans and those just wanting to pitch a tent are scattered throughout the park and along the Great Ocean Walk. Advanced bookings and payments are required year-round.
The nearby Apollo Bay offers a variety of accommodation options if you’d prefer to venture into the park for a day trip.
Food/drink: The closest sizeable supermarket is in Apollo Bay. Each campground has different facilities and prior to leaving it is recommended that you check whether there is a fireplace and drinking water available.
Maps: Maps of the national park, its camping sites and the various walking and mountain biking trails can be found on the website and in the visitor information centre.