Cora Lynn Cascades, Great Otway National Park, Lorne – Victoria, Australia

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.

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?

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).

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!

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.

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.

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.

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!

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).

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

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.

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.

Narnia? Maybe.

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?

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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…


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.

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.

I really enjoy playing with my camera settings these days! 

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.

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.

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.

Quick Facts

Last visit May 2017
Best Time April-September
Start / Finish Blanket Leaf Carpark
Unsealed Roads No
Walking distance 4.2km return
Time 2hrs return
Difficulty Moderate/Strenuous
Facilities Picnic tables, Toilets
Lat & Long 38.5208° S, 143.9248° E
NearbyErskine Falls, Straw Falls, Splitter Falls
Watercourse Cora Lynn Creek

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Image of Erskine Falls during a chasing waterfalls trip to Lorne in Victoria Australia

Erskine Falls, Great Otway National Park, Lorne – Victoria, Australia

Image of Erskine Falls during a chasing waterfalls trip to Lorne in Victoria Australia

How To Find Erskine Falls in Great Otway National Park, Lorne, Victoria

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 Rentalonline, 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.

I also managed to revisit Erskine Falls in September 2017, and it was flowing much heavier after the winter months. See pics below! Also during this visit I ventured further along the river bank to find Straw Falls and Splitter Falls – check out those posts for more info!

Quick Facts

Last visit January 2019
Best Time April-November
Start / Finish Erskine Falls Rd Carpark
Unsealed Roads No
Walking distance Upper lookout 80m one way Lower Falls 220m one way
Time 1hr return
Difficulty Moderate, steep stairs
Facilities None (closest toilets are at Blanket Leaf Picnic area
Lat & Long 38.5070° S, 143.9135° E
NearbyStraw Falls, Splitter Falls, Cora Lynn Cascades (Blanket Leaf Picnic area)
Watercourse Erskine River

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Lesmurdie Falls, Mundy Regional Park, Perth – Western Australia, Australia

I was on my flight home to Perth, settled into my aisle seat with a scratchy Qantas blanket and puffy pillow (I always wonder if they wash those things or chuck them out, but it’s probably best not to think about it). In any case, I was relatively comfortable, apart from freaking out about the possibility of the plane crashing, like I always do when I’m on a flight. Irrational, really. But a fear all the same.

The plane shuddered slightly and my stomach flip-flopped. But then they served dinner, a steamy butter chicken with rice, and I organised my tray table – cup on the right for wine, cup on the left for tea, rubbish in the seat pocket so it’s out of the way, you know the drill. The hippie girl next to me smelled like smoke and spilled her red wine all over my foot, but other than that it was a good flight.

Halfway through, it hit me. I was going home. I didn’t really want to go home (even if it was just for a weekend), other than to see my family for hugs and kisses and maybe a hot cross bun or two (or five). I wasn’t quite ready to be back in my old room, back in that old routine. So I thought I better get a wriggle on with making plans to keep myself busy. That’s when Lesmurdie falls came to mind. I hadn’t had a chance to visit them before I left my home town, and what better way to spend some quality time with Mum than on a bush hike? I’m not sure she agreed, but I dragged her along anyway.

How to get there: 

Lesmurdie is located in the Shire of Kalamunda, also known as ‘Up in the Hills’ in Perth jargon. It’s practically the only part of Perth that isn’t deadpan flat. But anyway. The falls are in Lesmurdie – hence Lesmurdie Falls (thanks captain obvious), and are relatively easy to get to.

They are best accessed from Welshpool Road East, or Kalamunda Road, depending on where you are coming from. I’ve only outlined Welshpool Road directions because it’s the way we went.

Road Map to Lesmurdie Falls. Google Maps (2017).

From Welshpool Road:
Right or Left (depending which way you’re travelling) into Gladys Road.
Left into George Road.
Follow George Road as it curves around to the right, until you reach Ford Road.
Turn left onto Ford Road.
You’ll reach a fork in the road.
Turn right onto Nelson crescent.
Follow Nelson crescent until you hit Falls road.
Turn left into Falls road – this will be a ‘No Through Road’, but you’ll see the carpark before you reach the dead-end.
Congrats! You’ve arrived! See? Easy.

So Mum and I arrived. Up at the top of the falls, we had a steep descent ahead of us. There are a few hiking trails to choose from, the sign at the beginning of the trail will show you where each one goes and how long it will take. After a little uhmming and ahhing, we decided to take The Falls Trail – only a 640m return. I desperately wanted to manoeuvre to the bottom of the falls to watch them flow, and The Foot of the Falls trail is a continuation of The Falls Trail, so that was a win-win for me.

The walk is a relatively easy one, and we made our way leisurely, following the signs along the way. Luckily, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to find your way to these falls. Soon enough, we reached the peak where the view overlooking Perth and the city is simply phenomenal. If anything, you should visit these falls to stare out at that.

It was 27 degrees but it felt more like thirty-something as we walked, sweat trickling down my back between my backpack and my shoulder blades. There wasn’t a whisp of wind in the air, but you couldn’t complain about the weather. Not when it produced views like this.

There are two lookout spots made of metal frames –  what I assume is the end of The Falls Trail. We reached these and peered down at the valley from the top of the waterfall. The falls were fairly dry, a testament to this time of the year in Perth. We were lucky they were flowing at all, really, probably due to the heavy rainfall which recorded the wettest day ever in February.

Photo taken in April 2017

I tried my best to get good photographs of the falls, which undulate down the steep slopes. I ventured further down the pathway, stepped onto precarious rocks and bent my knees in typical ‘photographer’ stance. But it was no use, the lighting wasn’t doing the scene any justice. So we made the split decision to continue to The Foot of the Falls (2km return).

If you don’t like stairs, this trail is definitely not for you. Wide wooden steps of orangey-red dirt lead the way towards the bottom of the falls.

A thin, dry, gravel path then winds its way through shrubs, seemingly taking you in the complete wrong direction. Trust me, you’re headed the right way.

Soon, we reached a fork in the road and pondered over the huge descent. Hint: you want to follow the path down to the right, until you pass another carpark. There wasn’t any signage at this point, so it was a bit of a gamble. I guess it’s all part of the adventure.

My shoes kept slipping on the gravel and we giggled amidst a series of “Did you have a nice trip?” and “You didn’t send me a postcard!” But in all seriousness, maybe wear some shoes that have a bit of grip to them. Apparently my old sneakers have decided they’ve had enough of being grippy.

Finally, we reached the smoother path that resides next to the riverbank, listening to the calm trickle of water as it gradually became louder. I skipped with excitement – we were almost there.

It seemed as though the windy river would never end. Animals rustled the bushes nearby, bees hummed in the distance. We took it all in as we walked.

I love how every time you go on a nature walk, it will never be the same again. Things are ever-changing, and that’s what makes the experience so worthwhile. You just have to stop when you’re going to admire things, otherwise you can’t see the uneven ground below you and you’ll end up tripping again. Which is embarrassing, trust me.

Just when I thought we’d never make it, BOOM, there they were. Lesmurdie Falls. We could see the lookouts that we had come from, and thin sprays of water flowing down the rock-face, which is a lot steeper than it looks in photographs.

I tip-toed over cobbled rocks like stepping-stones, working my way towards the water. Mum was less eager, but eventually found her way. Our glutes were sore, our shoulders were red & raw (sunscreen: would recommend) and we were puffing, deep breaths from our lungs. We chugged down water that had warmed inside our plastic bottles. But we had made it.

There’s something triumphant about finally finding the falls. It’s like the reward you get for doing some damn hard-work. You can sit, or stand, and admire them for a little while, taking it all in and congratulating yourself for making it.

Or, if you’re like me, you can kick off your shoes, toss out your hair and jump straight under the fresh, clean water – fully clothed, might I add. Yeah, I’m crazy. But it was hot, and we’d made it this far. I wasn’t about to leave without experiencing the falls first-hand.

The water flow was stronger than I realised, and I had to carefully slide myself along mossy, slippery rocks, feeling for secure cracks and dips for my feet to rest. It’s dangerous, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a thrill I can’t replace. Ironic really, since I can’t even sit on an aeroplane without freaking out. It’s far more dangerous to climb slippery, rocky slopes than it is to sit on an aircraft. But I digress.

The icy cold water soaked me through – I just laughed and spluttered and threw my arms in the air, feeling the rush of water clean out my fingernails and wash through my hair.

It certainly cooled me off for the trek back to the top. And boy oh boy, a trek it was. You forget when you’re going downhill that you’ll have to go back up. My wet clothes clung to me and kept me from overheating, trudging uphill for what felt like forever (my iPhone tells me it was 30 flights of stairs, but who knows how accurate that really is). We made it, though, obviously, or I wouldn’t have lived to tell this tale. But it was worth every step.

I have since returned to Lesmurdie Falls in October, and they look mighty different after winter! Check out the pics below!

Quick Facts

Last visit October 2017
Best Time July-September
Start / Finish Lesmurdie Falls Carpark
Unsealed Roads No
Walking distance Falls Trail 640m return, Foot of Falls 2km return
Time Allow 2hrs
Difficulty Moderate
Facilities Picnic tables, Toilets
Lat & Long 31.9943° S, 116.0337° E
Nearby Shire of Kalamunda
Watercourse Lesmurdie Brook

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