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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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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Beauchamp Falls visited during Chasing Waterfalls trip in Lorne

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

Beauchamp Falls are a well known beauty of the Great Otways. Tucked away about 41kms inland from Apollo Bay, Beauchamp Falls tumble about 20 meters. The water gushes over a lush fern cliff and into the Deppeler Creek below.  

Beauchamp Falls visited during Chasing Waterfalls trip in Lorne

I was very excited to visit Beauchamp Falls. They’d been a bucket-list item for quite some time. I began my journey from an Airbnb in Skenes Creek; an extremely windy 45 minute journey along Turtons Track. After bumping along on unsealed roads in the Beech forest, I made it. 

I didn’t realise Beauchamp Falls allowed camping until I arrived. I thought that was pretty cool. The camping clearing is at the end of Beauchamp Falls Road. Click here for information on camping here. (Though I disagree with their distance and time for the waterfall). 

The track for Beauchamp Falls begins to the left of the carpark.

Take the time to read the walk’s information sign at the beginning.

I always love looking out for the unique wildlife. Sadly, I never seem to see them. But that doesn’t mean they’re not there!

The walk begins as a gradual descent. The path is flat and easy at this point. I didn’t need the below sign to tell me to take my time. With such beautiful surroundings, it’s natural to take it slow.

For example, the ferns foliage provide a beautiful composition. 

I also love looking up when on a hike. Often it’s easy to forget. But the trees stretch into the sky, beautiful and out of reach.

X marks the spot. I assume this is to indicate you’re heading in the right direction. 

However, since Beauchamp Falls are quite touristy, they are well sign posted.

But that doesn’t mean it’s 100% safe. Nature is powerful and trees can collapse at any time. The below photo is a tame example, but a good reminder to take care.

I also love to indulge in the rich history of these places. Imagine being the first people to discover a place like this.

More amazing products of nature…

Soon the track will begin to follow the river-bank. 

Everything was very wet and tropical during my visit. September is a great time, since it’s no longer winter. However it’s still wet enough to experience an impressive flow of the falls.

The flat, stoney gravel track to Beauchamp Falls was easy to walk on. I did the walk in my Hunter gumboots, but it could easily be done in sandshoes.

I then reached a small bridge. It was covered in metal mesh to prevent slipping, so I crossed with ease.

Here the track continues as a boardwalk. 

It then heads up some stairs.

And evens out along another boardwalk. 

One last walk through the towering ferns…

Then the real descent begins. 

A whopping staircase winds it’s way down towards the river.

After the seemingly endless descent, a quick few upwards staircases lead you to the viewing platform.

I had finally made it! I felt an overwhelming sense of happiness and achievement. It happens when you’ve bucket-listed something for as long as I had Beauchamp Falls. 

Though there’s no access to their base, the platform provides a great view. 

It just wasn’t great enough for me. I headed back down the last few staircases to the point where they began. Here, there was a muddy path leading down to the river. 

I ducked under the metal railing and slid slowly towards the bank. It was obvious I wasn’t the first photographer to do this. I feel somewhat ethically torn when it comes to this. A lack of access to the base of Beauchamp Falls is there to preserve it. To prevent erosion and human devastation. But won’t nature do it’s thing regardless? One day these falls won’t exist to admire, so we have to take the opportunities while we can. 

That being said, I took extreme care when walking around the bank. I don’t want my presence to impact the beauty of this place. 

I waded carefully into the river for this shot. I remember the cold water gushing into my gumboots as if it were yesterday. I stood, the spray from the falls whisking into my face. All the while I was praying that my camera didn’t fall off the tripod and plunge into the water. But it didn’t.

Beauchamp Falls inspired me. They altered something in me. All waterfalls are beautiful to me, but some just have an extra bit of magic. 

It’s the feeling of zazz, of overwhelming joy, that I seek when visiting waterfalls. And Beauchamp provided the goods.

It wasn’t all sunshines and rainbows, though. The looming ascent was still ahead of me. Safe to say I was gasping for air once I returned to the car. But after a short recovery, I was headed to Hopetoun Falls – click here to head there with me!

Quick Facts

Last visitSeptember 2017
Best TimeJune-September (but flow year-round)
Start / FinishBeauchamp Falls Rd Camping Area/Carpark
Unsealed RoadsYes, average condition but could be managed in a 2WD
Walking distance 2.5km return
Time 1.5hrs return
DifficultyModerate, short steep hills on way up
FacilitiesCamping available, Drop Toilets
Lat & Long38.6469° S, 143.6119° E
NearbyHopetoun Falls, Triplet Falls, Little Aire Falls
WatercourseDeppeler Creek

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Upper Kalimna Falls during Chasing Waterfalls trip to Lorne

Upper Kalimna Falls, Great Otway National Park, Lorne – Victoria, Australia

Upper Kalimna Falls during Chasing Waterfalls trip to Lorne

Upper Kalimna Falls are the less impressive of the Kalimna’s, but worth visiting nonetheless. Just 2km further on from Lower Kalimna Falls, the trek begins from the Sheoak Picnic Area (pictured below).

If you’ve read my post on Lower Kalimna Falls, you’ll know that the track begins from behind the carpark. In front of the carpark are tracks to Henderson Falls and Won Wondah Falls.

I won’t go into detail about the track – all information can be found in the Lower Kalimna Falls blog post.

Once at Lower Kalimna Falls, a sign (pictured below) next to the track indicates Upper Kalimna Falls.

Here, the track becomes thinner, though still quite muddy if there’s been recent rainfall. The sunny day I had been experiencing was beginning to take a turn, so I hurried along.

The track then became even thinner, and I had to take extra care to avoid slipping.

After a short while, a glimpse of Upper Kalimna Falls peeked through the trees.

The muddy path turned into a leafy-covered mess that was extremely slippery. This has obviously been an issue in the past, with rubber laid on this section to try and provide grip. However, it wasn’t very effective. I recommend wearing appropriate footwear. Luckily, I was wearing my Hunter gumboots which are not only waterproof, but also have ribbed soles for extra grip. 

The final leg of this walk is on a wooden boardwalk covered with metal mesh to help prevent slipping. This boardwalk goes right up to a dead-end where there is a viewing platform for the falls. 

Droplets of rain began to seep from the sky, so I quickly snapped a shot of the falls and made my way hastily back to the carpark. I didn’t beat the rain, though, and ended up being caught in it. Thankfully, I had my Kathmandu raincoat and thick yellow raincoat from Bunnings to keep me and my gear dry. Read more about them/what to take on a waterfall adventure here. 

I still really enjoyed Upper Kalimna Falls. If you’re trekking to Lower Kalimna Falls and have some extra time, I don’t see why you wouldn’t pay them a quick visit. 

Quick Facts

Last visitSeptember 2017
Best TimeJune-September 
Start / FinishSheoak Falls Picnic Area (lower carpark)
Unsealed RoadsYes, average condition but manageable in 2WD
Walking distance8.5km return (Lower Falls on the way) extremely muddy after rainfall, gumboots recommended
Time3.5hrs return
DifficultyModerate (easy but far distance)
FacilitiesToilets, Picnic Tables and Shelter at Sheoak Picnic Area
Lat & Long38.5618° S, 143.9090° E
NearbyLower Kalimna Falls, Henderson Falls, Won Wondah Falls, Phantom Falls
WatercoursePart of Little Sheoak Creek

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Olinda Falls, Dandenong Ranges National Park, Melbourne – Victoria, Australia

It was a Saturday morning.

My schedule? Assignments, assignments, and OH YEAH – more assignments. It was not in the plan to even leave the house. 

I peered longingly out of my bedroom window. It was sunny outside, a rare occurrence at this time of the year in Melbourne. Extremely rare. In fact, it almost never happened…

So, I made a split-second decision.

“Stuff it,” I thought, “It’s such a beautiful day, I’m not going to waste it.”

So, I put on my hiking gear and I packed a bag, locked the door behind me, and off I went on my adventure.

And an adventure it was. You see, I don’t own a car. That’s because I live in Melbourne and the public transport here is pretty good. That is, if you’re just travelling within the city. Where I was headed – the Dandenong Ranges – was practically the country-side.

SPOILER ALERT: I made it. Lol.

It took me (from Brunswick):

  1. The 19 tram from Brunswick Road/Sydney Road to Melbourne Central Station.
  2. The Lilydale Train line to Croydon (21 stops).
  3. The 688 Bus to ‘Upper Fern Tree Valley’ from Stop 6 outside Croydon station (which was actually super easy to find), then getting off after 37 stops. Thirty Seven! At Dandenong Tourist Road/Falls Road. Make sure to look up the latest routes on Public Transport Victoria, or download the PTV app.
  4. A 1.1km walk down a tremendous hill that is Falls Road (which I forgot I was going to have to walk back up. Ha. Ha. Ha….)
  5. I arrived! With total travel time at 2hrs 11minutes. The above photograph is outside the carpark – the track to the falls is off to the left.

There’s a lovely little picnic area here, as well as plenty of signage to help you on your way. I forgot to get a photograph of the map because a group of tourists were milling around it when I arrived, so I figured I’d get the shot on the way back. Of course, I forgot. Sorry everyone.

There’s also toilet facilities, which aren’t drop toilets but are still pretty dismal, and which only had freezing cold tap water.

The track to the falls is quick (roughly 300m), and all downhill.

Off I went, through an array of gorgeous Karri trees.

There are also a number of other walking tracks in this area for those that are keen hikers. Me? I’ll only hike if it will find me a waterfall. But if you want more information on the hikes in area, you can click here.

Then I reached the fork in the road with the track to the Lower Falls one way and the Upper Falls the other. You’d think my heart would’ve sunk at the sight of the fence blocking off the Lower Falls track, wouldn’t you?

In actual fact, I didn’t even bat an eyelid. I knew full well I’d be going down there regardless. I didn’t come all this way for nothing. But I decided to check out the Upper Falls first.

On the short walk to the Upper Falls, a little path had formed itself down the river bank. I knew I’d be scooting on down there, too. However, a little further along there’s a viewing platform, from which you can get some pretty gorgeous shots, too.

Still, typical me found my way as close to the water as humanely possible. I can imagine that in the crux of winter, it would be impossible to walk across the rocks like I did. At this time (May on the cusp of June) it was relatively tame.

I spent quite a bit of time meandering across the rocks to get some shots at different angles. It was a very peaceful day, with not too many people around, so I wasn’t disrupting anyones photographs.

I then decided it was time to venture further into the ‘exclusion zone’. I had planned to walk back up the path and squeeze past the fence, but a fallen log near the platform lookout of the Upper Olinda Falls allowed access to the blocked-off path. I wobbled across it and appeared with a view of the fence behind me. I know – #DareDevil #Rebel

There was a steep descent ahead of me, and I felt my heart clanging around in my chest. What challenge awaited me? Why had the path been blocked off? I was about to find out.

It was a bit anti-climatic, really. I thought I was going to have to scramble over huge fallen trees and debris and stuff. Turns out it was just the side railing that had been destroyed. The path itself was fine. I know, boring right?

Tis’ pretty hectic damage, though. But I continued on just fine without the aid of the railing. I guess if it had been a wet, rainy day it would’ve been more dangerous. Travel at your own risk, I guess.

Before long I came to a fork in the road – which was actually three seperate paths, marked with a wooden stool, a big tree and more hand-railing.

Path number 1 veers off to the right:

Path number two veers off to the left, down some steps which are just planks of wood and then mud:

And path number three, which isn’t really a path, so much as it is a slope made clean by rainwater, is straight ahead:

I decided to veer right first, in an attempt to get closer to the Upper Falls. I had peered down at them from the top viewing platform, aching to go further down and get better angles for photos. I hoped this path would lead me there.

Success! I managed to find the endless cascades of the Upper Falls, and a thin path along the right of the river bank made it easy to walk along and get closer.

As you can imagine, with heavy rainfall in the midst of winter this may not be accessible. It kind of reminded me of The Lion King 2, when the river suddenly gushes and fills with water, covering everything in its path. But luckily for me, my fate was less drastic than Zira’s. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to go and watch The Lion King 2 right now. Like seriously, quit reading this and go watch it.

Anyway, then I ventured back to the fork in the road (where the wooden seat was) and tackled the path that wasn’t really a path, slipping and sliding my way down (literally, this was dangerous so be very careful if you plan on doing this).

The difficulty was rewarding, however, when I reached some mini-falls. These were probably my favourite along the entire bank.

Now, because I still haven’t invested in a tripod (give me a break – I’m a broke uni student!), I had to rest my camera precariously on slippery rocks. It actually almost slid off once, but I caught it. Thankfully. The mini heart-attack I had when that happened was enough for me to give up on the photographs.

However, before that little incident, I managed to capture some shots on self-timer.

I look pretty relaxed, hey? Haha don’t be fooled – my camera’s self-timer only allows up to 10 seconds of delayed photography, so I had to sprint (on slippery mud) and leap over the rock on the right-hand side – yeah, the one covered in the green moss – in order to get to that spot.

Green mossy rock^^

And there I am wearing my Lu Lu Lemon Top which makes me look like I have horrendous back-fat. But IT’S FINE. I GOT THE PHOTO. Anyway this was the last shot I took before I almost lost my camera down the stream of freezing water, so I made my way back up to the main path.

P.S. If anyone wants to be my hiking/waterfall buddy and take aesthetic photos of me, don’t be shy! Enquire within.

I then started the short journey to the Lower Falls along a thin, muddy path. All in all, the difficulty rating of this track is relatively easy.

I continued on, down a windy section of the path that veered around to the right and opened up into the Lower Falls platform.

It was peaceful, seeing as the path was blocked off, and I had the place to myself.

As you can see, the falls keep going further downstream. I wondered what they look like from here on. But the access ends here, so I will never know. Luckily, the Lower Falls were beautiful and distracted me.

I rested my camera on the ledge of the platform to achieve these shots (don’t worry, this time I kept the strap around my neck and didn’t abandon the camera, so there was no chance of it falling to a cold, wet death).

Again, further up there were some more mini-falls. I simply loved experimenting with photos, and taking in all the beautiful surroundings and the different nooks and crannies of this waterfall. I really am surprised they don’t refer to them as cascades.

Overloading you with photographs just to try and spark some inspiration in you. I highly recommend going to visit!

Plus the Dandenong Ranges itself is a beautiful area of Victoria. I felt the air turn chilly and crisp the moment I arrived. But it was amazing – clean, fresh air free from all the city’s pollution. I was relieved to be free of cigarette smoke, if even for a little bit.

Quick Facts

Last visit May 2017
Best Time June-October
Start / FinishDandenong Ranges National Park Carpark
Unsealed Roads No
Walking distanceUpper 350meters Lower 500meters
Time 1hr return
Difficulty Moderate
Facilities Picnic tables, Toilets
Lat & Long 37.8341° S, 145.3700° E
NearbyDandenong Ranges Botanic Gardens
Watercourse Olinda Creek

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