My muscles were aching.
I stretched back in the driver’s seat and pushed my foot on the accelerator. I was determined to get to Sheoak falls – the second falls of the day – before sunset.
My friend Morgan and I had exhausted ourselves visiting Erskine Falls earlier in the day, but I wasn’t about to let that get the better of me. Our shoes were muddy and wet, laid out on my rain jacket in the boot, leaving us in soaked-through socks. Our hair was mangled onto our foreheads, my jeans were filthy, and I was starving, but we ventured on.
The view from a stopping bay on Great Ocean Road, Lorne.
The sun was already beginning to set, which made me anxious. But it made for a very pretty drive along Great Ocean Road, and Sheoak falls are only 5km from Lorne (we were staying at Lorne Foreshore Caravan Park), so in reality we had plenty of time. Or so I thought.
Directions to Sheoak Falls:
If you type “Sheoak Falls” into Google, it will tell you they’re right next to the carpark, as per the below.
Sheoak Falls Carpark. Google Maps (2017).
However, they’re actually more like where I’ve put the location tag in the image below. The carpark comes straight off Great Ocean Road, though, so it’s not hard to find your starting point.
Road Map. Google Maps (2017).
We soon came across the small car park off to the right (which is well sign-posted). However, once we were there, it wasn’t obvious which direction would actually lead us to the falls. Then we found the sign below, next to a mulch track off to the left.
I’d also heard Sheoak falls were fairly easy to access, so we decided to hedge our bets. We jammed our feet back into our muddy shoes, waved goodbye to little Suzie and headed uphill on the mulch track.
The view of the carpark from the track (behind us).
Turns out I had heard correctly, and it was a pretty easy and basic track along a wooden boardwalk through shrubs and bush. My feet made the wood creak as I plodded along in the chilly air, taking in my surroundings.
The great, unique thing about these falls is having a view of the ocean as you walk. With green cliff scenery on one side, and the windy road with turquoise sea on the other, we were quite content.
It doesn’t last forever, though, and soon we had to deviate down some stairs and inland towards the falls.
We began the descent, taking each step slowly and one-at-a-time. And just as well – my heart nearly leapt out of my throat when I placed my foot on the 12th step from the bottom, which ricocheted forwards. I stumbled down the next few steps, but regained my balance without face-planting. Luckily.
It was minuscule in the scheme of things, but it made me giggle. This is one of the reasons I write my blog – to give people the tips and tricks they would never get from a National Park website. So, yeah, beware of the 12th step from the bottom!
Once I had tackled ‘death by wobbly step’, we reached a long, skinny concrete path that leads into the valley.
I’m quite surprised at how quickly we walked, considering how tired we were from all the day’s adventures (which you can read more about here). But time was of the essence and we wanted to make it to the falls before the sun disappeared behind the cliffs and left us in darkness.
Not to mention without the ability to take photos – I know! Disaster, right? If we couldn’t take pics – how would anyone know that we went!? It’s sad, but true. Ah, but really we just like to capture the beauty. Check out my Instagram for more!
So anyway, when we were faced with more stairs, we only moaned a little before charging upwards. What’s that saying? When the going gets tough, the tough gets going?
Still, the track to these falls is relatively simple and the stairs do exist for your aid. I just have a thing about stairs. My glutes twinged with each step, tightening almost to the point of cramping. I have a love/hate relationship with the feeling. I mean, on one hand you know it’s helping tone those butt-muscles we all want so badly. But on the other, well, it bloody hurts!
We made it, though. If even through clenched teeth. As you can see, these falls are not as commercialised as some of the others in the area, which makes them pretty special.
^^ The uncommercialisegd, basic-as track I’m talking about.
Suddenly, we could see a glimpse of the falls peaking through the trees, and I got excited, clapping and carrying on.
“I can spy the falls, I see the falls, I’m going to some falls,” I chanted to Morgan. She just laughed at me in response.
It’s kind of childish how giddy I get when I see how close we are to flowing water, but I’m not ashamed. It’s part of what makes me who I am.
The view of the river from above.
Not long after seeing a glimpse of the falls, we reached a fork in the road. You can choose to head to the top of the falls or the bottom – though it’s not sign posted (bit obvious though, right?)
Seeing as we were quickly running out of daylight – I swear the sun is running a race when it begins to set – we decided to head downhill. It was a good choice.
The bottom of these falls is an intimate area surrounded by gorge, which creates a stunning little hub to admire and take the photographs we so desperately wanted.
The air was completely still. It was crisp. There was nothing but the sound of the water running down the rock face. Green ferns bloomed at the water’s edge, which was murky and deep. I let out a sigh at its beauty.
Turns out the loss of sunlight was actually a great thing, because it allowed for some stunning photos tinged with hues of blue, and without the glare of the sun behind the rocks.
Now here’s where my craziness creeps in. I brought my favourite Wittner knee-high boots with me in order to get the perfect ‘Instagram’ shot. It’s absurd, really, how we all struggle to do something different for social media. I mean, what are we trying to prove? Well, ultimately that we are trendy and can take cool pictures. But to be honest with you, I just really like my boots.
I’m thinking Wittner should hire me as their model though, right? Just kidding.
Really this was the ultimate test to see how well I could balance and hop on squelchy mud without ruining suede. Risky, but fun.
And I succeeded. I enjoyed the fact that different angles gave different lighting and mood to the pictures of these falls. I could’ve admired them forever.
It was so quiet and peaceful in the gorge, especially since we had ventured out so late. This was at about 5.30pm, so we had the place all to ourselves. It allowed me to express the freedom I feel when I experience waterfalls – in a very literal sense.
Though I wouldn’t recommend, as I was busy shivering during this picture. The mud was also a stinging ice-cold on my bare feet. But it was worth it.
After taking the time to simply admire the falls, I decided to explore further.
I love to get as close to waterfalls as humanely possible. This usually consists of diving right into freezing pools, or sitting directly under the falls themselves. However, it was literally way too cold for any such business during this time in April/May. So I had to settle for scaling the rock face instead. As you do.
It was pretty cool to see the falls up close and capture some footage, which can be found on my Facebook or Instagram (yes I’m a novice who has no clue how to embed a video into my blog. I’ll learn eventually. Perhaps I’ll use Bluehost, I hear they’re pretty good when it comes to advancing your WordPress blog. Hey – I’ll give it a shot if you do)!
It also gave me a chance to see the rest of the river flowing into lush greenery that sparkled like something out of Avatar. You know? The movie?
I made it back from the rock-scaling escapade and continued to experiment with my camera settings. I wasn’t stressed out about losing light anymore, just curious about the colours it created.
I’ve probably overloaded you with photos, but I couldn’t help it. This place was just too beautiful not to share every single one.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy trip to a gorgeous sight-to-see, these are the falls for you. They certainly kept a grin on my face.