What to See in the Area
Great Otway National Park & Forest Park
The Great Otway National Park and Otway Forest Park encompass sensational costal landscapes, beautiful hinterlands, cascading waterfalls, majestic tall forests and ancient rainforest gullies.
The National Park covers around 102,470 hectares and links what was the Otway National Park, Angahook-Lorne State Park, Carlisle State Park, Melba Gully State Park and State Forest areas. The proposed Otway Forest Park is a new Forest Park to be proclaimed by 2008.
Dogs will be permitted in most areas of the Otway Forest Park provided they are kept on a leash and under effective control at all times. Dogs are not permitted into the Great Otway National Park (Johanna Beach is an exception).
Lake Elizabeth, hidden deep in the Otways near the township of Forrest, is an inspiring sight with heavily timbered flanks and calm waters punctuated by the trunks of dead trees, drowned when the valley was flooded.
The lake was created more than 50 years ago when record rainfall sent thousands of tonnes of rock and earth tumbling into the East Barwon River, damming the river and forming a lake in a remote forested valley.
Experience the full beauty of the Otways forest, with its towering trees and dense fern glades, on the 2-kilometre loop walk to and around the lake from the car park. The path follows the new course of the river and passes a billabong with a backdrop of giant ferns and onto the western end of Lake Elizabeth to a viewing platform with scenic views up the length of the lake. Information boards along the way explain more about the lake and the plants and animals in and around it.
The Great Ocean Walk
The Great Ocean Walk is a long distance coastal bushwalking track. The 91km walk links Apollo Bay to the Glenample Historic Homestead, adjacent to the Twelve Apostles, and passes through the Great Otway and Port Campbell National Parks. Shorter walks, day hikes and overnight treks are also possible, with guided walks, hire equipment and accommodation transfers all available to make the experience accessible. Overnight campers must register their intentions with Parks Victoria.
The Otway Fly
The Otway Fly is a 600 metre long 25 metre high elevated tree top walk ascending at a gentle grade through a magnificent stand of cool temperate rainforest featuring Myrtle Beech, Blackwood and Mountain Ash.
The History of Apollo Bay
Located 186 km south west of Melbourne on the Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay is a very typical seaside resort with lots of motels and holiday accommodation. Its primary appeal is that it is accessible from Melbourne and is one of the key towns on a particularly beautiful stretch of coastline.
Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the area around Apollo Bay was inhabited by Aborigines who lived largely on the produce of the sea. Ancient middens have been discovered on the Otway Peninsula near the Aire River.
By 1840 the enterprising Henty brothers had established a major whaling station at Portland and over the next seven years they had a small whaling station at Point Bunbury which is where the Apollo Bay golf course now stands.
The first major European settlement occurred in 1850 when timber cutters moved into the district. They cut timber and floated it out to ships moored off shore. This industry led inevitably to the establishment of a number of sawmills. At this time the settlement was variously known as Apollo Bay (after the schooner Apollo) and Middleton. Then in 1877 the name was officially changed to Kambruk. It wasn't until 1952 that it officially became Apollo Bay. Not surprisingly, throughout the 19th century the major access to the town was by sea.
By 1864 farmers had moved into the area. John Cawood, one of the town's founding pioneers, was farming land around the Barham River. A decade later (in 1873) a Colonel Heath started farming at Mounts Bay. That year also saw a fortnightly road mail service. Further land sales occurred in 1877 and a school was opened in 1880.
On 10 July 1932 Apollo Bay was the scene of one of the greatest shipping disasters ever witnessed on the Australian coast. The coastal steamer Casino, with a number of locals aboard, tried to berth at the town's jetty. It was hit by freak waves, listed and sank, taking ten men down to their deaths. This occurred in front of the townsfolk gathered on the jetty who did all they could to save the people on the boat. The anchor from the Casino is located outside the Apollo Bay Post Office.
The road to the town was upgraded in 1927 and in 1932 the Great Ocean Road was completed. This ensured the town's future as a tourist and holiday destination. It is also an important fishing port with a large fleet scouring the southern ocean for crayfish, shark, whiting, flathead and snapper. Enthusiastic amateurs will not be disappointed by the rock and beach fishing. The Apollo Bay Music Festival is held each year in March.