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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Horseshoe Falls, Mt Field National Park – Tasmania, Australia

Be prepared for stairs.

I’m just going to go right out and say that. While Horseshoe Falls are just a short distance (10 minutes or so) from Russell Falls on the Mt Field National Park waterfall circuit, the hike to them requires a bit of resilience.

LADY BARRON FALLS, MT FIELD NATIONAL PARK – TASMANIA, AUSTRALIAHorseshoe Falls are the second stop on the waterfall circuit at Mt Field. You will have to pass either Lady Barron Falls or Russell Falls first in order to get to them, depending which way you start. Check out those blog posts to figure out which would suit you best.

Myself and my hostel friends Ben and Yiwii from The Pickled Frog Backpackers (review in the footnotes of O’Grady Falls blog post , if you prefer a hotel try Hotels.com for comparison prices) began from Russell Falls. They ventured ahead of me, climbing up the stony stairs that zig-zag through the unique Tasmanian forest.

I didn’t count how many stone stairs there were, but there was a bench about half-way up, so that’s an indication that there’s enough stairs to require a rest. Safe to say I was huffing and puffing like my life depended on it. Well, it probably did.

Luckily the climb is made easier by the beautiful views you have surrounding you.

And then we hit the wooden stairs, of which there were 105. One hundred. And five. So yeah, be prepared for that, is all I’m saying.

The climb is well worth it, though. I had hoped it would lead to the top of Russell Falls, and I was right.

We were able to look out at the view from the river that flowed down into the falls we’d just been admiring minutes before. So that was pretty cool.

The river looked surprisingly small for the incredible flow at Russell Falls, but it was pretty nonetheless. It trickled by us with that classic, soothing sound of gentle water.

We continued on to Horseshoe Falls. Since the tracks are within a National Park, they’re well signposted. We laughed at the ‘1 minute’ engraved on the sign below. Almost doesn’t seem worth putting it there, does it?

Because sure enough, 1 minute later, we reached Horseshoe Falls.

As you can see, these falls get their name from the shape formed by the two sides of water flowing down into the river below. They were extremely luscious and green when we visited, which we relished. They’re not always like this, so consider this your disclaimer warning!

I was again able to practice my photography skills, enjoying the mossy green rocks I had to play with.

I then forced my new friends into taking photos of me once again. Well, actually they quite enjoyed it to be fair. In fact they were encouraging, and captured some killer ‘behind the scenes’ shots for me. They were legends.


Photo by @buzzpuppet

Photo by @buzzpuppet

As you can see, I set up the camera angle and adjusted the settings, making sure everything was perfect. The only real credit I can give to my new-found friends was them directing me on where to stand and how to pose. So I guess I have them to thank for that. Love you, guys!

I enjoyed Horseshoe Falls, though I wish they were flowing a little more to make that horseshoe shape more distinct.

We then began our journey to Lady Barron Falls, the longest and hardest part of the hike (which is still easy). Lady Barron Falls are 50 minutes from Horseshoe Falls and an hour from Russell Falls, with a Tall Trees walk on the way.

Quick Facts

Last visit June 2017
Best TimeJuly-September 
Start / FinishMount Field Visitor Centre 
Unsealed Roads No
Walking distance 1.2kms one way, circuit
Time 45 minutes one way, or 2hrs for circuit
DifficultyModerate, stairs involved
FacilitiesToilets & Cafe at visitor center
Lat & Long42.6763° S, 146.7116° E
NearbyRussell Falls and Lady Barron Falls (circuit)
Watercourse Russell Falls Creek

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Image of Russell Falls taken on a chasing waterfalls trip in Tasmania

Russell Falls, Mt Field National Park – Tasmania, Australia

Image of Russell Falls taken on a chasing waterfalls trip in Tasmania

I was a little on the drunk side of sober.

Perched on a bar stool at The Pickled Frog Backpackers with my laptop in front of me, editing photos of O’Grady Falls and Silver Falls which I had visited just that day. I took a swig of my Cascades Pale Ale.

The next thing I knew, a bustle of people were filling the foyer, ordering drinks and giggling at the bar next to me. A short girl appeared to my right, leaned over to peer at my screen and exclaimed, “What are you doing?”

Soon enough, I had made friends with the small girl named Yiwii, who was from New York but travelling on from a business trip in Manilla. We were then joined by a guy called Ben, who was also from Melbourne. And by the end of the night, they’d both invited themselves on my next day trip to Mt Field National Park.

But I didn’t mind. Making new friends and having unexpected company with fellow travellers is one of the most fantastic things about travelling solo. So I welcomed them into my tiny little Kia, which I hired from Drive Car Rental (see footnotes for a full review), and off we went.

Photo by @yiwii featuring me and my Kathmandu backpack – so many great pockets for my essentials.

Driving to Mt Field from Hobart was easy – and the track to the falls begins from the Mt Field Visitor Centre. The drive took about an hour and a half and was relatively easy – even on the long, windy Tassie roads. To get there from Hobart City:

  • The easiest way to leave the CBD is by taking Brisbane Street to National Route 1
  • Continue on National Route 1 for 17.5km
  • Continue straight through the first roundabout – follow signs for Lyell Hwy A10 and follow this for 15kms
  • Continue straight at the next roundabout onto Lyell Hwy A10/Montagu Cres/A10 and follow for 1km
  • Continue straight at yet another roundabout onto Montagu St/B62 and follow this for 18kms
  • Then turn left onto Gordon River Rd B61 and follow this for 7.5kms
  • Turn right onto Lake Dobson Rd/C609 (this is the road entering into the Mt Field Visitor Centre)


The Mt Field Visitor Centre will cost you $24.00AUD entry (for a National Park Pass). You can drive in and park your car without any issues, but you will then need to purchase the pass from reception to put on your dash.

The walk to Russell Falls is one of the easiest in Tasmania. Once inside the Visitor Centre, head to the exit on the opposite side of the carpark, through the glass doors. You will be led to an obvious path, and see the sign above.

Shortly, a big blue sign leads the way. The waterfall track is a circuit of three falls including Horseshoe Falls and Lady Barron Falls. Obviously this means you can do the track the opposite way, too. If you’d like to do this, begin at the track for Lady Barron Falls, which can be accessed by following the road that passes the Mt Field Visitor Centre carpark (on foot). You’ll see the entrance quite clearly. Anyway, we began the easy way below:

The walk is flat and super easy, winding through a forest where bright green moss clings to everything in sight. Colourful, information signs are scattered along the track. I was extremely excited because this one below said that winter is the most likely time to see a platypus (I didn’t see one, sadly).

My new friends ventured ahead of me, through huge fallen trees.

There’s places to stop and sit along the way, although with the easy track I doubt you’d need to.

I always make sure to read the signs on the side of the track. You learn so much about the  place and the wildlife surrounding you.

Beautiful, green ferns danced around us and fluorescent green moss dazzled as it clung to fallen logs and rocks.

We took our time to stop and enjoy the wildlife, even though we were freezing in our thick, puffy jackets. It’s pretty cold up at Mt Field – in fact it gets layered with snow at times, so be sure to take appropriate gear and rug up!

We continued on – this track is only a 25 minute return so ‘continued on’ wasn’t actually that much further.

Another informative sign.

And then we made it!

Russell Falls had a big, wide, open viewing platform, and then a sneaky small platform off to the left where you could get closer to the falls (pictured below).

Russell Falls are about 34-58 meters in height (with 2 tiers/drops) and usually flow very well in winter/spring time. We were visiting in June, which would be considered prime-time, but Tassie was experiencing a severe lack of rainfall, so they weren’t flowing as much as they could have been.

They were still pretty beautiful though, with the incredible tiers/cascades providing excellent views and of course, photographs.

I think these were my favourite, to be honest. They’ve got to be up there. Their uniqueness and beauty captivated me.

And there I am, soaking in these gorgeous falls.

It was hilarious sharing my crazy passion for waterfalls with new friends, succumbing them to pressing the shutter release button on my camera for me. They did a pretty good job, don’t you think?

I almost didn’t want to continue on to Horseshoe Falls. Almost.

But it was time to move on. I took one last glimpse at these gorgeous falls which – fun fact – were first named Browning Falls when they were discovered in 1856. However, by 1884 tourists had flocked so frequently and they were re-named Russell Falls – the popular tourist attraction.

And then it was time to make our way to Horseshoe Falls, and later Lady Barron Falls.

Footnotes

I hired a small car from Drive (also known as Rent For Less) Car Hire, which is located on Harrington Street in Hobart CBD. My experience was really great – though my advice would definitely be to book online rather than walking in. It is significantly cheaper to book online. This was also the cheapest car hire I could find, and the location in the CBD made it even easier in terms of accessibility.

Lucky for me The Pickled Frog Backpackers had free parking. A review of this hostel can be found in the footnotes of the post on O’Grady Falls.

Quick Facts

Last visit June 2017
Best Time July-September
Start / FinishMount Field Visitor Center
Unsealed Roads No
Walking distance 500meters return (wheelchair accessible). Full circuit 
Time 25 min return (unless  circuit)
Difficulty Super Easy
Facilities Toilets
Lat & Long 42.6772° S, 146.7129° E
NearbyCircuit continues to Horseshoe Falls and Lady Barron Falls
Watercourse Russell Falls Creek

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