Bush camping and walking in the Otway state forest
After a partial recharge overnight at a powered site in the Otways Tourist Park in Gellibrand, we spent a couple of nights at Dandos campsite. This is only 20 km away from Gellibrand, and so we had enough charge in our EV for driving around during the next day and returning to the caravan park the day after. Dandos is tucked away in the Otways state forest on the Gellibrand River, among eucalypt forest, a few tree ferns, some old tall pines and open grassy areas. Our campsite was visited by silver eyes, eastern yellow robins, scarlet robins, superb fairy wrens, grey shrike thrush, satin bower birds and many other birds.
There’s no power or drinking water laid on at Dandos. The camper has a 12 V battery for lighting and the small fridge, and a 60 litre water tank. We used the Utility Mode in the Kona to charge the camper battery (we will write about this in another post).
Hoping to experience some of the old-growth myrtle beech forest, which dates back to Gondwanaland times, we planned to do a 2.5 hour walk at Little Aire Falls, near Triplet Falls. Heading off from Dandos we unknowingly (at the time) took a left turn instead of a right then a left. The sky was overcast, so we had little sense of direction. We were very surprised when we suddenly realised we were arriving in the little town of Forrest (to the east of Dandos), instead of Beech Forest to the south. That meant we were further from our planned walks than expected, and had to consider our kilometres more carefully … oops!
After a rethink, we realised we could get across to Beech Forest via Turton’s Track. This is a recently sealed road through the Otway National Park, which is so narrow and winding that it’s signposted as unsuitable for caravans and trailers. so we had previously decided to not drive along there with our camper. Without our fortuitous wrong turn near Dandos, we would not have had a chance to drive it. The steep forest along Turton’s Track is spectacular with lush ferns and tall trees.
At the entry to the Triplet Falls road a large sign indicated Triplet Falls was closed for roadworks. This included Little Aire Falls, and the walk we had looked forward to doing. This was very disappointing. The next best option was a very popular/busy walk to Hopetoun Falls (about 30 minutes return), so we visited there.
In this part of the Otways there are very few walks longer than 30 minutes available. Perhaps this is because the area is mostly managed for Forestry and not by National Parks. The lack of public access raised questions for us about how much of the old myrtle beech forest actually remains protected from logging, and how much of it will eventually be removed, and replaced with pine or blue-gum monocultures?
We decided to return via Turton’s track to Dandos, as it had been the highlight of the day. We made a point of stopping at one of the small bays, to smell, see, hear and touch the forest …