I don’t know how it happened.
To give you some context, I just looked at my bank account balance. Touch ID wouldn’t let me into the Commbank app the first two tries, so that should’ve been the first sign. I knew I didn’t want to know the balance, not really. But I persisted, cringing while I hovered my thumb over the home button. Success. Or, not so success. Depends which way you want to look at it. Either way, here I am, trying to work out how I’ve managed to end up with a mere $10.34 staring back at me. Yeah, it happens to the best of us.
Okay…I lied…I know how it happened. It all started when I went searching for a cheap car rental deal. My best friend Morgan has been visiting from Perth, so we decided to spend one of her weekends here road tripping to Lorne to find waterfalls. Well, I decided. And dragged her along with me.
It was actually easy booking a Suzuki Swift from Advance Car Rental1 online, and then accomodation in a bungalow at Lorne Foreshore Caravan Park2, both of which were cheap and problem-free (see footnotes for more information). And off we went. To hell with being able to afford rent and food, and having time to do uni work, right?
The drive from Melbourne to Lorne is just under 2 hours, and relatively easy. The majority is along main freeway roads which eventually turn into the infamous Great Ocean Road.
Great Ocean Road is a windy, 240 odd km scenic drive along the south-east coast of Australia. It stretches between Torquay to as far as Allansford and is Australian National heritage listed. With sharp edged cliff-faces on one side and bright turquoise ocean on the other, it’s a unique journey. Though it’s fairly easy to get distracted from the road if you’re the designated driver – so pull over in the little stopping bays if you want to admire the view.
Once we reached the sea-side town of Lorne (which is also beautiful, by the way) we set off to find Erskine Falls. The falls are part of the Great Otway National Park, and approximately 15 or so minutes inland from Lorne (I mean, Google maps says 14, but they forget to add in the time spent driving with uncertainty wondering if you’re in the right place). Refer to the map below as an indication of the simplicity of this drive if you’re lost. As far as falls go, they are well signposted.
Road Map to Erskine Falls. Google Maps (2017).
You’ll eventually reach a very obvious turn off – where you have one of three choices. 1. Continue straight on Erskine Falls road 2. Veer right onto a gravel road, and 3. Turn right into Erskine Falls Access road. If it’s not obvious, you want number 3. You’ll be pleased to know there are no unsealed roads to get to these falls.
Road Map Erskine Falls Access Road. Google Maps (2017).
There is, however, a ridiculously steep slope. When you drive down (at which point I was praying that lil’ Suzuki wouldn’t conk out on me) and find a carpark with this sign, you know you’re in the right place.
Like I said, these falls are well signposted as they are a well-known tourist attraction. The walking distance is also very minimal – but don’t be fooled. The descent is quite hectic (and as always, you have to come back up – huffing and puffing. It’s a killer).
We went to the Upper Falls lookout first – it’s on the way to the Lower Falls – about 80m down the track. Trudging past ginormous, Australian trees. Trust me, you have to see these for yourself because photographs don’t even do them justice. They’re huge.
We reached a small platform, where there’s a sneak peak of the falls through thick greenery. I was very excited at this point. You can’t tell from the photograph, but we are quite high up. Erskine falls drop about 30 meters into a rocky gully surrounded by ferns and lush greenery.
I had a great time playing with my camera settings. I use a Nikon D5100 with an 18-55mm lens, and I captured my shots by changing the shutter-speed. I’m still learning – Year 12 photography was a long time ago – but it’s all part of the fun for me.
Considering it was overcast and the lighting was dark at times, I think I did a relatively good job. I was happy with my shots taken with 1/60 shutter speed and below, though I had to rest the camera on logs and rocks to keep it steady to avoid blurring. I should really invest in a tripod to be honest, but don’t forget, I’m a broke uni student.
After copious photos (I mean, you’ve got to get the perfect one) we began the descent. The stairs were slimy, steep and slippery, but aided by a metal railing. It didn’t take long to reach the bottom, and when you’re surrounded by such luscious trees, it’s okay if you take a little longer to soak it all in.
Once at the bottom, a small bridge platform is situated with a clear view of the falls. Like I said, it’s a well-known tourist attraction in the area, so it was no surprise that there were a few people around. Sometimes you just have to share the beauty of nature with other people, even if you wish you could have it all to yourself.
The view from the platform is great, but I’m always one for exploring that little bit further. Back towards the stairs and away from the bridge platform, there’s a small section off to the left which leads onto the riverbank.
This is where there are Australian signs that make you want to turn around. Don’t – you’ll be fine if you take care and use your common sense.
The river flows through mossy rocks and makes for great photographs. We were visiting in May when there hadn’t been much rainfall, so it wasn’t too hard to manoeuvre over the rocks to the other side.
If you happen to visit when there’s a heavier rush of water, or during winter months (June-August), then it may be harder, more dangerous or even impossible to cross.
I struggled to step on the rocks with my heavy backpack, and my camera bag slipping off my left shoulder. But we made it across and continued along a muddy, slippery terrain. Which we soon realised we weren’t actually meant to be on. Oops.
I can’t stress enough how beautiful this place is. As you can see, it’s very green and mossy, much like a Balinese rainforest, only less dirty.
Finally after ducking under logs and almost slipping over multiple times, we made it closer to the falls. The slower shutter speed settings I was talking about before achieved the below shots, with the water frosted and smooth in contrast to the ferns and moss.
Patience is key when you’re visiting popular tourist attractions. You have to wait your turn to get a shot free of other people, and make sure you allow other’s the same in return.
I don’t mind the wait though, because just staring at the falls is peaceful enough. We hid underneath fern trees during patches of rain, trying desperately to protect our electronics (maybe bring some waterproof gear, because we struggled in that department). But, hey, our phones and cameras survived and we got some amazing shots in the process.
So, yeah. I have $10.34 in my bank account after the car hire, accomodation, food, fuel and coffees. But it’s payday next week, I have a roof over my head and there’s frozen meals in the fridge. And I wouldn’t change the experience for all the money in the world.
- Advance Car Rental was easy to book online. We booked through the ‘compact’ section and selected the cheapest option. The website told us that we booked a Hyundai i20, but when we went to pick it up we were given the Suzuki Swift. But hey, I’m not complaining. The car was $33 a day, which included 300km per day. Since I’m under 25 years of age, we had to pay an extra thirty or forty dollars for that, plus the highest insurance. But it still came out at just over $150 for the both of us for the weekend. I would recommend going here – plus it’s further out from the city, so you don’t have to stress about driving next to trams in Melbourne peak hours. They also let us drop the car off after-hours with no additional cost, so we weren’t rushed to get back to the city at a particular time which was great.
- Lorne Foreshore Caravan Park we actually booked through Booking.com because we were looking for the cheapest possible accomodation. Probably because of this, we went in thinking it was going to be very shitty and dodgy, but we were pleasantly surprised. We booked the smallest bungalow, which had three bunk-beds and one double bed (which we were worried meant that we would be sharing with someone else, but we weren’t!). It was $124 for the night for both of us, which in my opinion was a bargain. The bungalow was cute & fitted with all basic amenities e.g. fridge, microwave, kettle, toaster and all kitchenware, plus a couch, small table, a split system air conditioner and a television. There were also some soft blankets that were to die for – we loved snuggling under them to flick through our waterfall photos after a long day. In terms of accessibility and location, the park is super easy to find and we had a free parking space included in the price which was also fantastic. The only negative thing I have to say is that the ‘grocery’ store they describe as being really close is a Foodworks across the road, which is SUPER expensive, so take some of your own non-perishable food if you’re staying for a longer period of time. Other than that, this place got a top review from me!