CORA LYNN CASCADES, GREAT OTWAY NATIONAL PARK – LORNE, VICTORIA

I woke up groggily.

A warm blanket was wrapped around me at Lorne Foreshore Caravan Park. I shifted my feet, my body stiff from a night’s sleep in an unfamiliar bed. A good sleep, though. Thankfully. My friend Morgan and I had a full day ahead of us.

We were headed to Cora Lynn Cascades, not too far from where we were the day before at Erskine falls. Google Maps told us it was only 8 minutes away, but when the automated voice said “you have arrived at your destination”, we were travelling along Erskine Falls Road and there was no clear stopping bay, so it was definitely incorrect.

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Road Map. Google Maps (2017).

If you just keep driving a tad further, you’ll reach a small carpark off to the left named Blanket Leaf Carpark – this is where you need to begin.

I’ve marked it on the map below with a red circle. The end of the blue line is where the navigation will tell you to stop (probably because it’s the closest point to the falls). But it is wrong! I know, what an idiot, right?

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Road Map. Google Maps (2017).

Nah but to be fair, we arrived easily. The carpark is right next to the road and a small picnic area, so my advice would be to secure your valuables or take them with you.

Once that’s all out of the way, it’s pretty clear as to which direction you need to walk – a track begins near the picnic area (which also has some tables & toilet facilities – granted they’re drop toilets, so not the nicest things on Earth, but hey, good to know all the same).

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Once we began the track, we entered a world of green. Ferns and trees overtook the path with such beauty. It’s funny to realise that even as a writer, sometimes I still manage to be lost for words. But seriously. Just look at this greenery!

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Now while it did look stunning, there was a downside. Heavy rainfall overnight had soaked the track through.

In fact it wasn’t much of a track at all, as much as it was a mud-bath-like consistency. And if that wasn’t enough, the vast majority of the trek was down extremely steep slopes. Safe to say we had a very slippery, squelchy 2.1km descent.

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It made things very interesting, and each step was a risk. BUT, I’ve mastered the art of this. Hear me out. The key is to distribute your weight evenly onto your foot, with each step being a very careful, precise choice. Trust me. Take your time. If you fail to do this, you’ll slide drastically in the squelchy mud and almost feel your heart leap out of your throat in the process. This may make the trip longer than the estimated 1.5 – 2 hour return, but it’s better than covering yourself in mud.

Tip: step where there are thick leaves, or on the edges of the path to try and avoid slipping. Key word: try. You might still end up on your bum. I can’t promise anything.

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You will also probably want to wear proper hiking boots. Or, you could be fun like us and trek in cowboy boots or a pair of Nike free-runs. All I’m saying – it’s doable either way.

Although you’ll probably be ready to throw out the Nike’s once you’re done (especially if you go in the wet season, we were here around May and winter was well on it’s way).

Aside from the slippery, muddy slopes threatening to have us fall flat on our faces, the track wasn’t too bad. It was well sign-posted so you always knew which way to turn.

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The above image is referring to the track that leads to Phantom falls (a 7km circuit) and is very strenuous. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to complete this as we had to get on the road back to Melbourne that day, but if you’re interested you can find more information on a very helpful PDF here. It’s actually one of the best documents I’ve seen on finding waterfalls. Yay for Great Otway National Park!

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Anyway, like I said, it’s well sign-posted. You can also deviate and take Lemonade Creek Track to Erskine falls if you’re a keen hiker (which is roughly 4km one way).

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We, however, were well on our way to Cora Lynn Cascades, so we continued through the squelchy mud.

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Remember to watch out for fallen trees and debris. The weather conditions here can be unpredictable, so you’ve got to keep awake and alert at all times.

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As well as the bright green areas, there was also dark gloomy moss when ducking under shrubs and delving over bridges. It really felt like we were in a different world.

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Narnia? Maybe.

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I loved how there was green in every shade – how the light dazzled when the sun came trickling through the trees. I think green is my favourite colour. I mean, how can it not be when it looks like this?

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We then reached another ominous bridge – how far were we? There was no way to know.

There are two bridges along this trail, both crossing a small section of the Cora Lynn Creek.

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We trekked out from the darkness and into more bright terrain, where there was plenty of wildlife to observe.

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Spotted: A little birdy with a yellow breast perching on a skinny tree. He was in a rush to get somewhere, perhaps to find a young female birdy to play with. Let’s hope he’s not two-timing! Xo Xo, Gossip Girl.

Suddenly, we reached some steps which we thought must be a good sign, especially after such a long time spent on a thin muddy trail that had us wondering if we were EVER going to reach the falls.

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But we were right, and finally the cascades peaked through the ferns.

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However, sadly these cascades were not our end-destination. These appeared to be the beginning of the cascades, to which access is very limited.

This was the best shot I could get through the thick, wet greenery.

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Unfortunately it was far too slippery and dangerous for us to get to these, but I have seen photographs of people at them so it must be possible on drier days.

I did give it a go, but it was way too slippery and I was worried I wouldn’t make it back up the bank. So I didn’t risk it.

If you continue further, walking along a mossy fallen log and down a skinny path, you’ll reach the steps leading to the ‘official’ cascades.

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Down, down, down we go. Gently down the steps. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, oh yes…it was…wet? That rhymes, doesn’t it? Haha sorry for my awful jokes…Anyway…

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TA DA!

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We had found the cascades, which were the perfect setting for photos. The light levels were on point, and the falls themselves were flowing quite well.

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I loved how the fern tree was growing right into the frame. They’re literally all you see while walking along, so it’s pretty cool to capture one with the falls in the same image. A true indication of the experience.

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I really enjoy playing with my camera settings these days, so if you’ve got any tips or tricks for me – I’m all ears!

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As usual, just looking wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to get on top of the bedrock, so I carefully crossed the stream (soaking an entire foot and sock in the process) and climbed up the side of the waterfall.

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Climbing looks as though it would be easy, but I can assure you, the excessive amount of residue and muddy terrain was no aid to my plight.

But hey, I made it! Getting back down was the real challenge, searching for groves to lock my feet into and clinging onto vines along the edge of the bank in order to get back down wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve done. But it was worth it.

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I would highly recommend visiting the cascades, they were rewarding to finally reach. Though the walk back uphill was pretty difficult, so make sure you’ve saved up enough energy to make it back. Like I said, it’s worth it. Though I’m not sure my Nike’s would agree.

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