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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Beauchamp Falls visited during Chasing Waterfalls trip in Lorne

Beauchamp Falls, Beech Forest, Great Otway National Park, Apollo Bay – Victoria, Australia

Beauchamp Falls are a well known beauty of the Great Otways. Tucked away about 41kms inland from Apollo Bay, Beauchamp Falls tumble about 20 meters. The water gushes over a lush fern cliff and into the Deppeler Creek below.  

Beauchamp Falls visited during Chasing Waterfalls trip in Lorne

I was very excited to visit Beauchamp Falls. They’d been a bucket-list item for quite some time. I began my journey from an Airbnb in Skenes Creek; an extremely windy 45 minute journey along Turtons Track. After bumping along on unsealed roads in the Beech forest, I made it. 

I didn’t realise Beauchamp Falls allowed camping until I arrived. I thought that was pretty cool. The camping clearing is at the end of Beauchamp Falls Road. Click here for information on camping here. (Though I disagree with their distance and time for the waterfall). 

The track for Beauchamp Falls begins to the left of the carpark.

Take the time to read the walk’s information sign at the beginning.

I always love looking out for the unique wildlife. Sadly, I never seem to see them. But that doesn’t mean they’re not there!

The walk begins as a gradual descent. The path is flat and easy at this point. I didn’t need the below sign to tell me to take my time. With such beautiful surroundings, it’s natural to take it slow.

For example, the ferns foliage provide a beautiful composition. 

I also love looking up when on a hike. Often it’s easy to forget. But the trees stretch into the sky, beautiful and out of reach.

X marks the spot. I assume this is to indicate you’re heading in the right direction. 

However, since Beauchamp Falls are quite touristy, they are well sign posted.

But that doesn’t mean it’s 100% safe. Nature is powerful and trees can collapse at any time. The below photo is a tame example, but a good reminder to take care.

I also love to indulge in the rich history of these places. Imagine being the first people to discover a place like this.

More amazing products of nature…

Soon the track will begin to follow the river-bank. 

Everything was very wet and tropical during my visit. September is a great time, since it’s no longer winter. However it’s still wet enough to experience an impressive flow of the falls.

The flat, stoney gravel track to Beauchamp Falls was easy to walk on. I did the walk in my Hunter gumboots, but it could easily be done in sandshoes.

I then reached a small bridge. It was covered in metal mesh to prevent slipping, so I crossed with ease.

Here the track continues as a boardwalk. 

It then heads up some stairs.

And evens out along another boardwalk. 

One last walk through the towering ferns…

Then the real descent begins. 

A whopping staircase winds it’s way down towards the river.

After the seemingly endless descent, a quick few upwards staircases lead you to the viewing platform.

I had finally made it! I felt an overwhelming sense of happiness and achievement. It happens when you’ve bucket-listed something for as long as I had Beauchamp Falls. 

Though there’s no access to their base, the platform provides a great view. 

It just wasn’t great enough for me. I headed back down the last few staircases to the point where they began. Here, there was a muddy path leading down to the river. 

I ducked under the metal railing and slid slowly towards the bank. It was obvious I wasn’t the first photographer to do this. I feel somewhat ethically torn when it comes to this. A lack of access to the base of Beauchamp Falls is there to preserve it. To prevent erosion and human devastation. But won’t nature do it’s thing regardless? One day these falls won’t exist to admire, so we have to take the opportunities while we can. 

That being said, I took extreme care when walking around the bank. I don’t want my presence to impact the beauty of this place. 

I waded carefully into the river for this shot. I remember the cold water gushing into my gumboots as if it were yesterday. I stood, the spray from the falls whisking into my face. All the while I was praying that my camera didn’t fall off the tripod and plunge into the water. But it didn’t.

Beauchamp Falls inspired me. They altered something in me. All waterfalls are beautiful to me, but some just have an extra bit of magic. 

It’s the feeling of zazz, of overwhelming joy, that I seek when visiting waterfalls. And Beauchamp provided the goods.

It wasn’t all sunshines and rainbows, though. The looming ascent was still ahead of me. Safe to say I was gasping for air once I returned to the car. But after a short recovery, I was headed to Hopetoun Falls – click here to head there with me!

Quick Facts

Last visitSeptember 2017
Best TimeJune-September (but flow year-round)
Start / FinishBeauchamp Falls Rd Camping Area/Carpark
Unsealed RoadsYes, average condition but could be managed in a 2WD
Walking distance 2.5km return
Time 1.5hrs return
DifficultyModerate, short steep hills on way up
FacilitiesCamping available, Drop Toilets
Lat & Long38.6469° S, 143.6119° E
NearbyHopetoun Falls, Triplet Falls, Little Aire Falls
WatercourseDeppeler Creek

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Upper Kalimna Falls during Chasing Waterfalls trip to Lorne

Upper Kalimna Falls, Great Otway National Park, Lorne – Victoria, Australia

Upper Kalimna Falls during Chasing Waterfalls trip to Lorne

Upper Kalimna Falls are the less impressive of the Kalimna’s, but worth visiting nonetheless. Just 2km further on from Lower Kalimna Falls, the trek begins from the Sheoak Picnic Area (pictured below).

If you’ve read my post on Lower Kalimna Falls, you’ll know that the track begins from behind the carpark. In front of the carpark are tracks to Henderson Falls and Won Wondah Falls.

I won’t go into detail about the track – all information can be found in the Lower Kalimna Falls blog post.

Once at Lower Kalimna Falls, a sign (pictured below) next to the track indicates Upper Kalimna Falls.

Here, the track becomes thinner, though still quite muddy if there’s been recent rainfall. The sunny day I had been experiencing was beginning to take a turn, so I hurried along.

The track then became even thinner, and I had to take extra care to avoid slipping.

After a short while, a glimpse of Upper Kalimna Falls peeked through the trees.

The muddy path turned into a leafy-covered mess that was extremely slippery. This has obviously been an issue in the past, with rubber laid on this section to try and provide grip. However, it wasn’t very effective. I recommend wearing appropriate footwear. Luckily, I was wearing my Hunter gumboots which are not only waterproof, but also have ribbed soles for extra grip. 

The final leg of this walk is on a wooden boardwalk covered with metal mesh to help prevent slipping. This boardwalk goes right up to a dead-end where there is a viewing platform for the falls. 

Droplets of rain began to seep from the sky, so I quickly snapped a shot of the falls and made my way hastily back to the carpark. I didn’t beat the rain, though, and ended up being caught in it. Thankfully, I had my Kathmandu raincoat and thick yellow raincoat from Bunnings to keep me and my gear dry. Read more about them/what to take on a waterfall adventure here. 

I still really enjoyed Upper Kalimna Falls. If you’re trekking to Lower Kalimna Falls and have some extra time, I don’t see why you wouldn’t pay them a quick visit. 

Quick Facts

Last visitSeptember 2017
Best TimeJune-September 
Start / FinishSheoak Falls Picnic Area (lower carpark)
Unsealed RoadsYes, average condition but manageable in 2WD
Walking distance8.5km return (Lower Falls on the way) extremely muddy after rainfall, gumboots recommended
Time3.5hrs return
DifficultyModerate (easy but far distance)
FacilitiesToilets, Picnic Tables and Shelter at Sheoak Picnic Area
Lat & Long38.5618° S, 143.9090° E
NearbyLower Kalimna Falls, Henderson Falls, Won Wondah Falls, Phantom Falls
WatercoursePart of Little Sheoak Creek

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Sheoak Falls, Great Ocean Road, Lorne – Victoria, Australia

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! *Update* As at September 2017, this has been fixed.

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. To read more about what’s up the stairs, Swallow Cave Falls, click here.

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.

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.

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.

I also re-visted these falls in September 2017 on a day when they were tranquil and beautiful, and then two days later after heavy rainfall and storms. It will never cease to amaze me just how powerful nature is, and how a place is never the same when you return. 

The falls on a day in September 2017
The falls two days later in September 2017

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.

On my recent trip in September 2017, I decided to venture further up the stairs, and captured the view of Sheoak from above. I also made my way up to Swallow Cave to the Upper Falls – check them out!

Quick Facts

Last visit September 2017
Best Time July-September
Start / Finish Sheoak Falls Carpark
Unsealed Roads No
Walking distance1km return 
Time 30min return
Difficulty Easy
Facilities None
Lat & Long 38.5653° S, 143.9628° E
NearbyLorne town centre, Phantom Falls, Henderson Falls, Won Wondah Falls, Cora Lynn Cascades, Erskine Falls, Straw Falls, Splitter Falls
Watercourse Sheoak Creek

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