Ottway Nat'l Park, Victoria

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The Great Ocean Road
Highway 1,  Victoria

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Camp Ground

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Otway National Park

The Otway National Park is located in the most South Eastern state, Victoria, along Australia's famous 200 km Great Ocean Road is the 12,876 hectors of coastal mountain forest of Mountain Ash, Blackwood and tropical ferns. Our host and quide was a dairy farmer, Alan Dow,  part - time naturalist (who is the 4th generation on his farm). We enjoyed 8 days of some of the most exciting 4WD on level 3 and 4 tracks thoughout the area.

The group, all 8 of us, would leave camp around 10am and not return until 6-7pm totally exhausted by the days activities and only fit to sit around the camp fire until it was time for bed.  With Alan  in the lead car, we explored mountains, lakes and waterfalls. The 4 wheel tracks were mostly former logging roads, now maintained by the park service for 4WD recreation. We were grateful that the rain eased up soon after our arrival or out driving would have been through a sea of mud!

Our camp site was one of the farm's fields surrounded by beautiful woodland and sightings included an echidna, 'dug out' from the grass by Alan so that we could view him close up. They are shy creatures and rapidly and effectively, bury themselves with frantic movement from unwelcome attention. There was also a fox, which did not hang around for closer inspection.

We were led to many spectacular beauty spots and enjoyed wonderful views of the coastline from tracks not usually penetrated by the general public. We even discovered, with our hosts guidance, a small and beautiful  bay, almost deserted and safe from 'nips' and sharks where we could swim in peace. What we did see of the Great Ocean Road, beautiful as it may be, only confirmed that it is a route to be avoided at the height of the tourist season and in school holidays.

The farmer was grateful for any help with his herd of 80 dairy cows so one of our group who had been the eldest of a family of five brought up on a farm had a fair chance to demonstrate her skill. She did so and easily beat Alan when it came to speed in handling the milking. Even Michael had a chance for the first time in his life to help the farmer round up the cows, herd them into the milk barn and milk. It has to be noted that he did not seem at all keen to repeat the experience the next day!

The pictures cannot begin to do justice to the beauty of the area. The wonderful height of the tall Mountain Ash trees, the spectacular waterfalls (here we were lucky that it had  been raining), the surprise of discovering a grove of the Redwood Trees found in Northern  Californial, a gift from their government, and the giant ferns which everywhere cover the forest floor. They all have to be seen to be appreciated.

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