Having chased a dozen waterfalls through the Otways, Chris Ord disagrees with TLC – those waterfalls are well worth chasing. With a fresh pair of New Balance trail runners, Chris chased those waterfalls, at pace!

We acknowledge that this adventure was enjoyed on the traditional lands of the Gulidjan, Gadubanud, and Gunditjmara people who have lived among and cared for the rainforests, valleys, mountains and coastline of the Otways for hundreds of generations. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

It all began with a heavy-handed pour of Apollo Bay Distillery Gin. Weights and measures were never my Mum’s strong suit. Stopping at three glasses was never mine.

So things were always going to take a creative turn when, perusing her laden bookshelf, I happened across Waterfalls of the Otway Ranges, an impressive tome by Anthony Car celebrating gravity, water, vertiginous topography, and the beautiful alchemy of their union.

Carisbrook Falls

Genetics and my choice of hydration via the jus of locally grown juniper berries ensured that I was also not great with measurement nor detail.This led to me blithely ignoring the fact that Car’s book identifies 226 waterfalls, perhaps something more worthy of pernickety consideration when announcing my intention to run a ‘waterfall ultra’, ticking off every cascade, cataract, flume, chute, rapid, and fall to be found in the Otways – a mountainous oceanside region in western Victoria.

The following morning, the gin clouds roiling in my head were somewhat counteracted by clouds on my feet as I laced up some New Balance Fresh Foam X Trail More v3 trail shoes – chosen specifically to deal with the mud and slip of a hastily revised trail run target.

New Balance’s latest foray into trail runners are packed with trail-specific features and are up to 10mm higher (read: squishier) than some other shoes on the market, and yet 30g lighter than the predecessor.

Putting them to the test on some seriously slippery and unpredictable trails, I rated the deep Vibram lugs for grip, dual-hardness midsole and five-sectioned outsole which helped aid flexibility and trail feel.

Read more: New Balance Has Launched Some Thicc New Trail Running Shoes


She Oak Falls

Instead of an ultra of waterfalls, I’d more sensibly begin with a baker’s dozen… 13 of the finest Otway waterfalls in a single day totting up to a half marathon trail mission. Well, 32km in total as it played out. Accuracy of measures, as mentioned, is clearly not my (or my Mum’s) thing.

I began the venture in Apollo Bay, looped west along the Great Ocean Road, then doubled back east along the Otway Ranges ridgeline to the inland village of Forrest before descending back to sea level to finish in Lorne.

It was a road trip of waterfall wonderment that went something like this:

1. Maits Rest Rainforest Walk

Location: 15 minutes west of Apollo Bay along the Great Ocean Road
Distance: 800m loop
Waterfall height: NA – no falls on the warm-up run. Oh-oh.
Difficulty: Easy

Maits Rest Rainforest Walk is a perfect great warm-up trail – short, with fun undulations and temperate rainforest surroundings. Make sure to look for the Otway Black Snail. Don’t step on it though.

2. Melba Gully (Madsen’s Track Nature Walk)

Location: Near Laver Hill, about 45 minuttes (50km) west of Apollo Bay along the Great Ocean Road
Distance: 1.2km loop
Waterfall height: 3m
Difficulty: Easy

Extending the warm-up, the Melba Gully offers a more impressive rainforest, including massive Myrtle Beech, Mountain Ash (which is the world’s tallest flowering plant) and a small waterfall called Annes Cascade. At only 3 metres, we’re starting small.


3. Triplet Falls (& Little Aire Falls)

Location: Phillips Track, Beech Forest
Distance: 6.5km loop
Waterfall height: 20m + 31m
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate

Triplet and Aire Falls combined make a perfect mid-distance run, and by the time you get this far in, the waterfalls are taken a serious notch up.



The stepped water drops are impressively high, the running fun and undulating, and the 200-year-old trees inspiring. Visit the Otway Fly while you are there (you drive right by).

4. Hopetoun Falls

Location: Hopetoun Falls Access Road via Aire Valley Rd, Beech Forest
Distance: 700m out and back
Waterfall height: 18m
Difficulty: Moderate

Hopetoun Falls is short but steep – 200 stairs steep to be exact! Another fern-fringed 30-metre drop delight, dubbed by some as the most beautiful falls in Australia. That’s a tad over-egged but it’s definitely up there. 



Check out the famous Redwoods Forest nearby.

5. Beauchamp Falls

Location: Beauchamp Falls Rd, near Beech Forest
Distance: 2.6km out and back
Waterfall height: 19m
Difficulty: Easy

Beauchamp Falls offers a descending trail that allows you to plummet fast to this 20-metre beauty. There’s a stunning rainforest section but be warned it’s slippery at the bottom (the bruise on my bum says so). At the pinnacle, there’s a great campsite with epic an view (alas, over some forested hills).

6. Lake Elizabeth

Location: Kaanglang Road, Forrest
Distance: 4.5km loop
Waterfall height: Lots of water, no waterfalls
Difficulty: Easy

Approaching Lake Elizabeth, you’ll traverse a fern alleyway leading to a drowned valley with heavily timbered flanks punctuated by the trunks of dead trees sunken when the valley flooded more than 50 years ago by a natural landslip. It’s a noted haunt for platypus spotting, so keep your eyes peeled for the elusive mammals.

For post-run fuelling, check out Forrest General Store café, and across the road Otway-roasted Hello Coffee for a cheeky caffeine hit. Post-run, Forrest Brewing Company is highly recommended to rehydrate – hair of the dog anyone?

7. Stevensons Falls

Location: Upper Gellibrand Rd, Forrest
Distance: 4.6km out and back
Waterfall height: 23m
Difficulty: Easy

Recently refurbished (due to reopen in June 2023), the Stevensons Falls trail is short and popular with beautiful Gellibrand River crossings.

One of the taller falls in this list, and noted as ‘one of the most powerful’, it’s a worthy candidate for a halfway tempo run. If you’re keen for an overnighter, there’s also great camping nearby.

8. Sabine Falls

Location: Sunnyside Road, Great Otway National Park
Distance: 3.7km out and back
Waterfall height: 130m
Difficulty: Moderate

Sabine Falls is the tallest waterfall complex in the Otways, consisting of three waterfalls, plunging down a 130-metre escarpment at the head of Smythe Creek. While it is probably the most degraded trail of the run, it felt the most wild, and the rugged, undulating trail passes an old mill site that makes it one worthy of the list.

There’s a viewing platform (after a decent drop) though it only offers a far sight view of the falls across a steep, thickly vegetated valley.

9. Carisbrook Falls

Location: Great Ocean Road, 15km east of Apollo Bay, 27km west of Lorne
Distance: 500m out and back
Waterfall height: 50m main fall (130m in cascade steps but you can’t see it all)
Difficulty: Easy

The drive down from Sabine is a stunning dirt road, accessible with a 2WD. Carisbrook Falls is the shortest of all the waterfall runs, and while it’s an impressive eight-tier waterfall seen from a long distance away cascading down the mountain slope, up close you can’t see it all, so I recommend making this one of a few stops along the way to avoid disappointment.


10. She Oak Falls

Location: Great Ocean Road, 6km west of Lorne
Distance: 1.3km out and back
Waterfall height: 16m
Difficulty: Easy

The cauldron-like viewing space at the base of the She Oak Falls is definitely a stop, sit and ponder vibe. If you have a bit of time up your sleeve, I recommend wandering up to the top of the falls for endless ocean views or walking a little further along to Swallow Cave where swallows nest during spring.


11. Henderson Falls (& Won Wondah Falls)

Location: Via She Oak Picnic Ground, Allenvale Road, Lorne
Distance: 3.5km out and back
Waterfall height: 10m + 7.5m
Difficulty: Easy

For a two-in-one waterfall hit, the fern fringed access trail to Henderson and Won Wondah Falls is the most magical aspect, although the small cove-like endpoint at Henderson, with its gentle trickle over glistening rocks, is a subtly beautiful sight.



She Oak Picnic Ground trailhead is also great for heading west to Upper and Lower Kalimna Falls, which are also worth visiting if you’re up for adding 8km out and back.

12. Phantom Falls

Location: via She Oak Picnic Ground, Allenvale Road, Lorne
Distance: 5km out and back, added to Henderson Falls route/distance
Waterfall height: 13.5m
Difficulty: Moderate

The spectacular Phantom Falls run in includes going through The Canyon, an awesome canyon adventure popping through a small hole in the earth, like a trail running Hobbit, before reaching the magnificent, towering Phantom.


Henderson trail 5. Otways, Chris Ord

13. Erskine Falls

Location: via Erskine Falls Road, Lorne
Distance: 650m out and back
Waterfall height: 36m
Difficulty: Easy

Erskine Falls is the most quintessential and impressive of all the falls but also the most popular. Read: crowded. Venture further downstream for Splitter Falls or continue all the way back down the valley to Lorne township (get dropped off at Erskine for the one way walk). Maybe visit the Livewire Park on the way up – the flying fox here is not to be missed.

Worth Adding

There’s an endless array of waterfall missions in the Otways (226 if you believe author Anthony Car), but easy add-ons close by to those named in this list include: Cora Lynne Falls; Cumberland Falls; and Upper & Lower Kalimna Falls, all located in the region behind Lorne.

If you, like myself, disagree with TLC, Waterfalls of the Otway Ranges by Anthony Car (2021) is the bible of waterfalls for the region.

Essential Gear

  • Trail runners with bite – NB Fresh Foam X Trail More v3 are a good option – it gets muddy and slippery. Often. Get a grip. Check out WAE’s first look at the shoes.
  • Wet weather jacket – the Otways is known as the wettest place in Victoria. In any season, so a packable just-in-case jacket is a must.
  • Hydration vest or waterbottle – Yes, you’re visiting waterfalls, but still best to BYO H20. Never know what animal may have carked it upstream.
  • Snacks – shorter trails won’t have you starving but by the 13th, short or otherwise, you’ll be hungry. Pre-load at the awesome café that is Icaro Wholefood Café (Apollo Bay) – the best in town.
  • Camera – it’s damn beautiful. Capture it. The Sony RX100m7 is my go-to for adventurers wanting a compact, lightweight, run-with lens that takes the best images and video.
  • Bottle of gin – Ok, so ‘essential’ is hyperbole, but while passing by, may as well go local and check out Ocean Gin from Apollo Bay Distillery, Guvvo’s Gin from Great Ocean Road Gin or Forrest Brewery for a cheeky post-run refreshment.

Having chased a half marathon (and then some) of waterfalls across the Otways, I can confirm I disagree with TLC’s song ‘Don’t go chasing waterfalls’. Chase those waterfalls and chase ‘em hard.

My only advice? If it’s this list of 13, save the night-before nips of local gin ‘til after you’ve run the cascade gauntlet. If it’s a 226 waterfall ultra mission you’re planning, well, feel free to drop by my Mum’s – her heavy-handed pour may be just what’s required to fill your courage cup*.

*You’ll need a non-drinking driver, of course.