Hovea Falls, John Forest National Park, Perth – Western Australia, Australia

Nestled up in Perth Hills are some stunning waterfalls, flowing down the face of orange and red rock. If you pass the John Forrest National Park Falls, walking along the limestone gravel track, you’ll find Hovea Falls.

While this is a great way to see the falls, and walk through the John Forrest tunnel, it’s actually not the quickest way. If you’re up for a sneaky, shorter visit to the beautiful landscape home to Hovea Falls, here’s where you’ll need to go. 

Instead of driving to the Swan View Tunnel, or to the John Forrest Tavern, continue past these and head to Victoria Road. This is a no-through road, where you can pull over onto some gravel on the side of the road. From here, you should be able to see another track down the hill, so carefully make your way towards it. 

Map of Hovea Falls in conjunction with Swan View tunnel and John Forrest Tavern
Road Map to Hovea Falls. Google Maps (2019)

Doing this makes the walk to Hovea Falls a mere 500 meters (1km return), and about 15 minutes (30 minute return). Which in the Aussie heat, is a much better option. 

Once you find the orange dirt track, follow it to your left. Red dust dissipated into the air with every step we took. A bird chirped and a butterfly flew across the path. But other than that, there was silence.

It’s a gorgeous trail, full of rich history, including a few old metal bridge structures from back in the day. 

Once you pass two of them, you’re not that much further from the waterfall. 

Signs are always a comforting sight, reassuring you that you’re travelling the right way. 

Luckily the signs at John Forrest are clear cut, and there is a bridge viewing platform for Hovea Falls. 

However, when we visited in 2017, the bridge was blocked off. The fast-flowing river must have caused the old metal to rust. 

But not to worry, you can view the falls from anywhere along the path, and even trudge carefully down the grassy banks to explore them. 

In the summer months, Hovea Falls are very dry. In October, when the weather was warming up, this allowed us to hop and skip and jump on some of the rocks. Using them as stepping stones, we explored the falls. 

Since they’re a very slow, undulating waterfall, Hovea Falls are not too dangerous. In fact, they can be a great spot for a picnic if you don’t mind soaking up the sun. 

On a blue sky day, surrounded by the lush green flora that spring brought, it’s a beautiful setting. 

In the harsh summer sun, you may want to cool off in the fresh river water. It trickles down the rock face and in places, blooms with green moss. 

We explored further down the falls, discovering little pools where the water had collected. 

Don’t be afraid to check out all the different, unique angles that Hovea Falls have to offer. 

They’re certainly one-of-a-kind, and while not the most impressive falls I’ve seen, they’re still a Perth gem. 

Continue on from Hovea Falls to discover John Forrest National Park Falls

Quick Facts

Last visitOctober 2017
Best TimeJune-August after rainfall
Start / FinishEnd of Victoria Rd, John Forrest National Park
Unsealed RoadsNo
Walking distance500meters one way
Time15minutes one way
DifficultyEasy
FacilitiesNone 
Lat & Long31.8803° S, 116.0999° E
NearbyJohn Forrest National Park Falls
WatercourseJane Brook

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Swallow Cave Falls (Upper Sheoak Falls)

Swallow Cave Falls (or Upper Sheoak Falls), Great Ocean Road, Lorne – Victoria, Australia

I’d been to Sheoak Falls twice before I finally ventured further up towards Swallow Cave. Don’t ask me why, because I honestly don’t know. I won’t pass up the opportunity again.

Swallow Cave Falls (Upper Sheoak Falls)

Swallow Cave isn’t referred to as a seperate waterfall, because really it’s just the Upper part of Sheoak Falls. On the way to Sheoak Falls, there’s the option to head up a staircase on the left side, instead of walking down to the right. 

It’s here that leads to Swallow Cave.

There are quite a few stairs, with sections of flat path in between.

It’s not long before the first viewing platform appears, allowing an amazing view of what I’m calling “Swallow Cave Falls.”

Image of Swallow Cave Falls (Upper Sheoak Falls) during Chasing Waterfalls trip to Lorne

But the journey doesn’t end there. The rocky, tree root infested path continues on.

Although the cliffs in this area can be dangerous, so stick to the paths.

Which shouldn’t be hard, as the track is clearly signposted.

This track can actually continue on to Castle Rock, a rock formation on the way to Won Wondah Falls and Henderson Falls.

Yet another reminder of the danger surrounding the track…

And then the track hits the river. After extremely heavy rainfall, it would be impossible or extremely dangerous to cross.

Luckily when I visited, it wasn’t too high. Plus I was wearing my Hunter Gumboots, though they actually filled with the freezing cold water as I crossed. But I digress.

The river will look similar to this if it is safe to cross. It’s up to your judgement of how fierce the water flow is and your level of confidence.

So I carefully made my way across the river, and trudged up the muddy bank on the other side. 

Here, more signs indicated back the way I had come (presumably for hikers who began their journey at either Phantom Falls or Henderson and Won Wondah Falls, a total of 8kms or so). 

Then the signs relevant to me – indicating Swallow Cave, only 100 meters away. 

The track leads down to another viewing platform, which can be seen from the first viewing platform on the opposite side of the river.

But that wasn’t quite enough for me. I decided to take a risk and venture down the left hand side of the platform to get closer to the falls. 

I took extra care. I didn’t take any further risks by going closer to the cliff drop. The falls near Swallow Cave are relatively flat, and I made sure I only stood on dry rock. The wet rock is far too slimy and dangerous. So I don’t recommend this unless you stay far, far away from the sheer drop. 

Other than that, it was a beautiful spot to relax and watch the Swallows flit about in the air. 

I enjoyed visiting Swallow Cave Falls, because even though they were so close to Sheoak, and by no means hidden, they felt secret. They were special and unique, and involved the perfect amount of adventure to find. 

Quick Facts

Last visitSeptember 2017
Best TimeJune-Sept 
Start / FinishSheoak Carpark, Great Ocean Road 
Unsealed RoadsNo 
Walking distance Roughly 1km or less (from carpark)
Time 30mins
DifficultyModerate (stairs and river crossing involved) 
FacilitiesNone 
Lat & Long Sheoak Falls: 38.5653° S, 143.9628° E
NearbySheoak Falls, Won Wondah Falls, Henderson Falls, Phantom Falls 
Watercourse Sheoak Creek

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Carisbrook Falls visited during Chasing Waterfalls trip in Lorne

Carisbrook Falls, Great Ocean Road, Skenes Creek – Victoria, Australia

Though the viewing platform to Carisbrook Falls is a mere 500 meters from Great Ocean Road, once you’re there, you feel like you’re in a different realm. They appear, cascading down a rock face that seemingly comes out of nowhere amidst an abundant green terrain.

Carisbrook Falls visited during Chasing Waterfalls trip in Lorne

The short trail to Carisbrook Falls begins from a gravel carpark that veers off from Great Ocean Road, roughly halfway between Lorne and Skenes Creek. 

The carpark is uneven, so take it slow to avoid an extra bumpy ride. 

The beginning of the trail is clearly signposted.

Follow the track uphill, ignoring blocked off deviations such as this one. 

I visited Carisbrook Falls on my way home to Melbourne from Skenes Creek, after a 4 day Chasing Waterfalls Trip. (Itineraries for my days can be found here – Day 1 and here – Day 2). So I was exhausted. And I couldn’t imagine a waterfall being visible from here.

But I continued on. Soon I saw a river gushing far below in the valley, which gave me confidence.

I shifted my backpack, tugged my camera bag comfortably over my shoulder, and continued on. The path was short, but thin and steep. 

And sure enough, soon I saw the falls peeking through the trees.

The tiny viewing platform is quite some significant distance from the falls, but still breathtaking. Best visited after heavy rainfall, such as the case on the day I visited, the water gushes down the mountainous terrain. 

Carisbrook Falls were a pleasant, short walk with a rewarding result. I’m glad I gathered the last of my strength to pay them a visit. 

Quick Facts

Last visitSeptember 2017
Best TimeJune-July
Start / FinishCarpark off Great Ocean Road, Wongarra
Unsealed RoadsNo, carpark road a bit bumpy 
Walking distance500meters one way
Time40 minutes return
DifficultyEasy
FacilitiesNone, halfway between Lorne and Apollo Bay
Lat & Long38.6919° S, 143.8098° E
NearbySheoak Falls & Swallow Cave
WatercourseCarisbrook Creek

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Little Aire Falls visited on a Chasing Waterfalls trip to Apollo Bay

Little Aire Falls, Beech Forest, Great Otway National Park, Apollo Bay – Victoria, Australia

Little Aire Falls are worth the deviation after visiting Triplet Falls. That’s all I needed someone to tell me before I began the trek. But they didn’t, so I set out to find them, not knowing what to expect.

Little Aire Falls visited on a Chasing Waterfalls trip to Apollo Bay

After about 200meters along the track to Triplet Falls, there is a sign to Little Aire Falls. It is advised as 2.3kms, which seems easy enough. So I set off. 

The track begins thin and flat, winding its way through the beautiful forest.

It was all but quiet, the soft padding of my gumboots on the dirt and the wind rustling in the trees the only prominent sounds around me.

I then reached a staircase and metal walkway, similar to those on the Triplet Falls trail.

At this point I thought the track was quite easy. However, it soon began to undulate, up, down, up down, as it wound its way through the forest. It wasn’t long before I was puffing, the all too familiar burning sensation returning in my legs.

Lengthy sections of this trail are not signposted, with plenty of steep uphills and downhills. 

After 20 minutes or so, I hadn’t seen another soul. It was so quiet, I wondered if I was heading in the right direction. But soon I reached a small clearing with a wooden post.

I presumed it meant I needed to continue straight. But who knew?

At times, the tracks are weathered and unclear. My anxiety came roaring to the surface as the day ticked on towards the later afternoon. I wanted to make it back to Skenes Creek before dark. But I was also determined to find the falls.

I soon became stressed, glancing above at the sky, and losing energy during the steepest sections.

I seriously considered giving up and turning back, because I felt it had been further than 2kms already. My iPhone’s health tracker indicated that it had – though I had no phone service so this could have been inaccurate. But then I saw a sign. 

So I continued on, walking through the deathly quiet forest. The sky became more overcast, and the track darkened. I quickened my pace, eager for it to be over.

It was a welcome relief when I emerged from the trees, following another sign through to an open section of the trail. 

The presence of signs kept increasing here, which restored my confidence. I felt my anxiety fading away. I wasn’t on a wild goose chase after all. 

More steps appeared; more reassurance that the track was reliable.

There were quite a few stairs. My legs ached with each step. But soon I saw a metal bridge appear at the bottom and my heart leapt. Had I made it?

Sure enough, I had made it to the viewing platform, where the falls were roaring many meters below. 

I almost jumped with joy, pumping my fists into the air. I even took an Instagram video explaining my hectic hike and my happiness at the end result.

Sure, it was disappointing that there was no access to the base of Little Aire Falls, but the view was still magnificent. And luckily I have a 300mm camera lens which allowed me to zoom in and capture the detail of the falls in their immense full-flow.

I took the time to sit and admire the falls. Partly because I was exhausted, and partly because they were so beautiful. I munched on a banana and a muesli bar to recharge, and longed to be closer to the falls. 

But in all honesty, I wouldn’t have changed the hike for the world. I just wish I’d had more accurate information about the hike. It definitely felt longer than 2.3kms. But that’s why I do what I do – to help others and let them know exactly what’s in store. So be prepared for a lengthy, strenuous hike to Little Aire Falls, which at times will feel like you’re in the wrong place. I assure you, you’ll get there in the end. 

Quick Facts

Last visitSeptember 2017
Best TimeJune-September
Start / FinishPhilips Track Rd Carpark
Unsealed RoadsYes, average condition but manageable with 2WD
Walking distance5kms return to a viewing platform quite some distance from the falls NO ACCESS to base
Time3.5hrs return (if deviate to Triplet Falls, otherwise 2-2.5hrs)
DifficultyStrenuous, lots of steep undulating uphill and downhill
FacilitiesToilets and Picnic Tables
Lat & Long38.6685° S, 143.4937° E
NearbyTriplet Falls, Hopetoun Falls, Beauchamp Falls
WatercourseYoung Creek

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Waterfall itinerary for Another Day in Lorne

Waterfall Itinerary – A Day in Lorne, Victoria Pt.2

This Waterfall Itinerary for Another Day in Lorne will suit well if staying in Lorne. It is the perfect follow-on from my first Waterfall Itinerary, which you can find here. 

Before beginning this day trip, you should pack sufficient snacks, something for lunch, and plenty of water. 

Step 1: Drive to Allenvale Mill Carpark

The Allenvale Mill Carpark, as it is described in some material, is actually marked on Google Maps as the Allenvale Road Carpark. Allenvale Mill Bush Campground is further on from here. It is 6 minutes from Lorne’s town center. The road is unsealed and bumpy, but doable in a 2WD. However, if you are hiring a car, insurance will not cover you on unsealed roads. Just a pre-warning. 

The track to Phantom Falls begins further down Allenvale Road after the Allenvale Mill Carpark. It veers off to the right, and winds its way through the forest. It then cuts across private property – an orchard. Take extra care on these premises and follow the signs. 

After passing paddocks with horses and kangaroos, the track heads up an extremely steep gravel hill before levelling out and leading to a staircase down to the falls. The 3.5km return is well worth it for the gushing crystal-blue water on display. Allowing 1.5hrs for this trek is sufficient.

Click here for more information on finding Phantom Falls.

Step 2: Drive to Sheoak Falls Picnic Area (Lower Carpark)

Despite being called Sheoak Falls Picnic Area, Sheoak Falls are actually the furthest waterfall from here (7km return). The carpark is better used for accessing Won Wondah Falls, Henderson Falls, Upper Kalimna Falls and Lower Kalimna Falls. 

The road to get to the Sheoak Falls Picnic Area (named the Garvey Track) is unsealed with lots of potholes. However, it is doable in a 2WD. 

Won Wondah Falls are a mere pit-stop on the way to Henderson Falls. There is NO ACCESS to their base. Nevertheless, they are on the way, so it’s worth the quick deviation. 

To get to them, head across the picnic area of the Sheoak Falls Carpark and follow the track for 30 minutes (1km). 

Click here for more information on finding Won Wondah Falls.

After Won Wondah Falls, the track continues to Henderson Falls. It is another 800 meters or so along. The track here can get extremely muddy, so I would recommend something like my Hunter gumboots. 

Once at the falls, you can walk right up to their base. It is extremely beautiful. Consider allowing another hour to get to Henderson Falls and back to the carpark. 

If it wasn’t clear, total hiking distance to Won Wondah and Henderson is 3.6km return, allowing 1.5hrs

Click here for more information on finding Henderson Falls. 

Step 3: Head back to the Sheoak Falls Carpark for Lunch

So far, you’ve completed 7.1km of hiking, though none of it particularly strenuous. It’s a good time to take a break and eat lunch at the picnic area. (I ate a delicious salami and cheese sandwhich I’d made at my hotel room before I left for the day).

Recharged, it’s time for the next stop.

The track to Lower Kalimna Falls begins from behind the Sheoak Falls Picnic Area Carpark (as opposed to the tracks ahead of it, where you were before). 

It is a 6.5km return to Lower Kalimna Falls (8.5km if you also go to Upper Kalimna Falls – next on the list) but I promise you, it’s worth it. Don’t let the k’s scare you off. The extremely muddy track takes about 2.5hrs return (3.5hrs if Upper Kalimna too). However, it is relatively straight and flat. It leads you to a beautiful, lush pool where the falls have a cave behind them.

Click here for more information, tips & tricks to finding Lower Kalimna Falls.

As mentioned, Upper Kalimna Falls are on the same track to Lower Kalimna Falls. They are only 1km further along, so you may as well pay them a visit. It simply makes the return trek 4.25kms instead of 3.25kms. Allow a total of 3.5hrs if visiting Upper Kalimna Falls from the picnic area. 

Click here for more information on finding Upper Kalimna Falls.

Step 4: Back to Hotel or Head to Skenes Creek/Apollo Bay

Congratulations! You’ve done 15.6kms of hiking on this day trip, and visited 5 fantastic waterfalls.

When I did this day trip, I then headed to Skenes Creek where I had booked an Airbnb for two more nights. This is because I wanted to visit Beauchamp Falls, Hopetoun Falls, Triplet Falls and Little Aires Falls in the Great Otway National Park. Skenes Creek is only a 55 minute drive from Lorne, while Apollo Bay just over 1hr. Shop around for the best accomodation deals on: 

Airbnb
Hotels.com
Expedia 

If this is something that interests you, stay tuned for my Waterfall Itinerary for a Day in Great Otway National Park! 

Expedia

Quick Facts

Total Hiking Distance15.6kms
Total Driving Distance (if already in Lorne)50.2kms if to Skenes Creek after. Otherwise 8.5kms 
Total Driving Time (if already in Lorne)1hr 12 mins if to Skenes Creek afterwards. Otherwise 21 mins 
Unsealed Roads Yes
Average Total Cost for this day (AUD) 1 person $183
Car Hire Cost (small 3 door automatic with 300kms free per day, hired from Advanced Car Rental) $33 per day 
Fuel Cost (for this day trip) doable with half a tank – roughly $15-20
Accommodation Cost (per night, 1 double room) $100
Food and Drink Cost $25-30
Nearby TownsSkenes Creek, Apollo Bay 
Other Waterfalls in this Area Cora Lynn Cascades, Erskine Falls, Straw Falls, Splitter Falls, Sheoak Falls, Swallow Cave Falls, Cumberland Falls  

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