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) 
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
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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Horseshoe Falls, Mt Field National Park – Tasmania, Australia

Be prepared for stairs.

I’m just going to go right out and say that. While Horseshoe Falls are just a short distance (10 minutes or so) from Russell Falls on the Mt Field National Park waterfall circuit, the hike to them requires a bit of resilience.

LADY BARRON FALLS, MT FIELD NATIONAL PARK – TASMANIA, AUSTRALIAHorseshoe Falls are the second stop on the waterfall circuit at Mt Field. You will have to pass either Lady Barron Falls or Russell Falls first in order to get to them, depending which way you start. Check out those blog posts to figure out which would suit you best.

Myself and my hostel friends Ben and Yiwii from The Pickled Frog Backpackers (review in the footnotes of O’Grady Falls blog post , if you prefer a hotel try Hotels.com for comparison prices) began from Russell Falls. They ventured ahead of me, climbing up the stony stairs that zig-zag through the unique Tasmanian forest.

I didn’t count how many stone stairs there were, but there was a bench about half-way up, so that’s an indication that there’s enough stairs to require a rest. Safe to say I was huffing and puffing like my life depended on it. Well, it probably did.

Luckily the climb is made easier by the beautiful views you have surrounding you.

And then we hit the wooden stairs, of which there were 105. One hundred. And five. So yeah, be prepared for that, is all I’m saying.

The climb is well worth it, though. I had hoped it would lead to the top of Russell Falls, and I was right.

We were able to look out at the view from the river that flowed down into the falls we’d just been admiring minutes before. So that was pretty cool.

The river looked surprisingly small for the incredible flow at Russell Falls, but it was pretty nonetheless. It trickled by us with that classic, soothing sound of gentle water.

We continued on to Horseshoe Falls. Since the tracks are within a National Park, they’re well signposted. We laughed at the ‘1 minute’ engraved on the sign below. Almost doesn’t seem worth putting it there, does it?

Because sure enough, 1 minute later, we reached Horseshoe Falls.

As you can see, these falls get their name from the shape formed by the two sides of water flowing down into the river below. They were extremely luscious and green when we visited, which we relished. They’re not always like this, so consider this your disclaimer warning!

I was again able to practice my photography skills, enjoying the mossy green rocks I had to play with.

I then forced my new friends into taking photos of me once again. Well, actually they quite enjoyed it to be fair. In fact they were encouraging, and captured some killer ‘behind the scenes’ shots for me. They were legends.

Photo by @buzzpuppet

Photo by @buzzpuppet

As you can see, I set up the camera angle and adjusted the settings, making sure everything was perfect. The only real credit I can give to my new-found friends was them directing me on where to stand and how to pose. So I guess I have them to thank for that. Love you, guys!

I enjoyed Horseshoe Falls, though I wish they were flowing a little more to make that horseshoe shape more distinct.

We then began our journey to Lady Barron Falls, the longest and hardest part of the hike (which is still easy). Lady Barron Falls are 50 minutes from Horseshoe Falls and an hour from Russell Falls, with a Tall Trees walk on the way.

Quick Facts

Last visit June 2017
Best TimeJuly-September 
Start / FinishMount Field Visitor Centre 
Unsealed Roads No
Walking distance 1.2kms one way, circuit
Time 45 minutes one way, or 2hrs for circuit
DifficultyModerate, stairs involved
FacilitiesToilets & Cafe at visitor center
Lat & Long42.6763° S, 146.7116° E
NearbyRussell Falls and Lady Barron Falls (circuit)
Watercourse Russell Falls Creek

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Silver Falls, Mt Wellington Park, Hobart – Tasmania, Australia

This is where I went wrong.
I began my journey to Silver Falls already tired from my walk to O’Grady Falls, with 50% phone battery (although it was ok because I had a portable charger in my bag). You see, it’s possible to do O’Grady Falls, Strickland Falls and Silver Falls all in the same day because they’re quite close to one another on Mt Wellington (see below). If you have access to a car, I would suggest driving to Fern Tree, parking and walking up the Pipeline track near Saint Rapheal’s Church to get to Silver Falls. But here’s the way I went.

Map indicating Silver Falls, O'Grady Falls and Strickland Falls. Google Maps (2017).

I began my walk from O’Grady Falls, continuing down the mountain rather than heading the opposite direction up to Pinnacle Road. I passed the Woods Track off to my right (above) and appeared at a small clearing. The O’Grady Falls Track continues off to the right.

And the Rivulet Fire Trail heads downhill to the left. I paused and tried to decide what to do. I checked the map on my phone. Strickland or Silver? Silver or Strickland?

I was unsure whether to continue to Strickland Falls (down the Rivulet Fire Trail) however, you can only see the falls from a distance from this trail, with no access to their base. I decided to turn around and head on the Woods Track, because Silver Falls were only 2km away.

I figured I could always walk back and see Strickland Falls, then pop out at Huon Road and get a metro bus back into Hobart. Yes, I thought. That was a good plan. So I headed uphill.

Uphill was the killer. I was quickly out of breath (super unfit at this point) and had to ‘take 5’ on a log, munching on my banana and muesli bar. It was at this point I noticed a leech on my camera bag. So yeah, there’s leeches around this area – beware!

After what seemed like a lifetime of trudging uphill, lifting my heavy hiking boots one after another, I finally reached some stairs up to Pinnacle Road. At this point I was gasping for air, which was sharp and cold when it filled my lungs. So I plonked myself down at the top of the stairs and scooped a Woolworths salad into my mouth followed by copious amounts of water. (Never forget to bring sufficient snacks and water when you go on a day trip).

I’m not going to lie, at this point I was so exhausted I was contemplating whether to keep going. I glanced across the road at where my maps was telling me to continue – along the Fern Glade Track. It seemed it was more uphill.

The Woods Track intersects Pinnacle Road and The Fingerpost Track, Google Maps. (2017). 

But I had come so far. Triumphed up the Woods Track. I found a sudden source of energy and sprung to my feet. Looking both ways twice before I crossed the road, I began up the Fern Glade Track. While it was uphill at first and I felt my glutes and calves burning, shortly after the track levels itself out and no longer requires a strenuous hike uphill.

Along this track you can also deviate to Rocky Whelans Cave and The Springs via Fingerpost Track. Soon along the track you’ll see the path to The Springs (there are lots of ways to get to The Springs on Mt Wellington) off to the right.

There are lots of signs along this trail, which instead of being helpful can actually become rather confusing if you’re not sure where you’re headed. The Fingerpost track intersects with the Fern Glade Track, so you’ll have the option to turn left or right onto this trail if you want. To get to Silver Falls, ignore this and continue straight.

(On Google Maps it still calls the Fern Glade Track a continuation of the Woods Track at this point).

Sign indicating the Fingerpost Track.

Follow the signs for Fern Tree and The Springs.

Soon you’ll hit the Radfords track, which runs through like an intersection. This is another track to follow if you’re keen on The Springs.

The Woods Track/Fern Glade Track meets The Radfords Track and officially becomes the Fern Glade Track, Google Maps. (2017).

For Silver Falls, continue straight ahead onto the Fern Glade Track (pictured in the distance of the below image).

A key indicator of if you’re in the right place is this headstone, which appears on the right hand side of the above photo. It marks the spot where George H. Radford died whilst competing in the race to the Pinnacle on September 19, 1903.

This meant nothing to me at the time – apart from being slightly spooky all alone in this deathly quiet forest – but after some research I found a great article of the history of the race and the tragedy. If you’re keen you can find it here.

Shaking off the element of spook, I continued on the Fern Glade Track. (Google now sorts itself out and calls it the Fern Glade Track from here on in).

There was a change in scenery once I entered the ‘official’ Fern Glade Track. There was more tree cover and an increasing amount of dark green moss clinging to everything in sight. I apologise for the dark images – but it gives you an idea of the mood.

Monstrous fallen trees that had been ripped from their roots lay to the sides of the track. I found myself wondering what it would have been like the moment they fell. They would have caused an almighty, frightening crack.

I was then thankful for the clear weather I was experiencing. The track then began to descend quite vigorously, and I found myself realising there was no way I would be heading back up it. I hoped that after Silver Falls I could find my way back to a main road to get myself back to Hobart.

But it wasn’t time to worry about that yet. Downhill I went, winding my way through thick greenery and across many small bridges.

All in all I would say this track is moderate in difficulty – half quite drastically uphill and the other drastically down, with a small segment of flat in between the two. Quite the accurate definition of moderate really.

It was deadly quiet along this trail, winding down, down, down the mountain. I felt uneasy, all my senses pricked up and alert. I had the crazy feeling that I was being watched. The headstone had me rattled.

If I thought O’Grady Falls was the trail of bridges, I was yet to experience this one. There were plenty of them hovering over small, intricate streams that were barely filled with water. I would imagine after heavy rainfall these would be full and flowing.

Finally I popped out at the Reservoir Trail, which is a horseshoe-bend at this point.

The Fern Glade Track continues on the other side (below). However, if you want to find Silver Falls, don’t continue down here. Head to the right, up the Reservoir Trail. And be careful – this is a shared use track.

The Fern Glade Track meets The Reservoir Trial and The Silver Falls Track, Google Maps (2017).

Heading up the hill:

Soon you’ll reach a wide clearing. The confusing (and also pretty great) thing about Mt Wellington is the copious amount of walking trails available. They all intertwine and intersect, so it provides hours of walking pleasure for keen hikers. However, it also means you need some pretty accurate directions in order to get from A to B.

The clearing has entrances to the Middle Track (either left or right) and the Silver Falls Track.

The Reservoir Trail meets The Middle Track and The Silver Falls Track, Google Maps (2017).

The Reservoir Trail continues around a bend off to the left and becomes the Middle Track, where there’s a tank-like building. I assume for some sort of water catchment.

Then, the Silver Falls track runs off to the left. This will lead you back towards the Fern Glade Track and eventually reaches Pillinger Drive.

On the opposite side of the clearing (to the right) the Silver Falls Track leads you to Silver Falls. Hooray! (So confusing, right?) I was lucky I had my phone to direct me.

So obviously I continued on the Silver Falls Track towards Silver Falls. After an easy, flat walk I found myself at a fork in the track.

The track on the right, on the higher ground, is the Reids Track, which leads back to Radfords Track and Pinnacle Road.

The Silver Falls Track meets The Reids Track, Google Maps. (2017).

The other, on the left – Silver Falls!

A small descent begins, and I could spot further signs in the distance. Finally I was in the right place.

A staircase appears and rounds down to the right.

And I finally reached the falls.

There’s a water collection tank at these falls, which you obviously can’t and aren’t meant to access.

Continuing down the wooden staircase, I reached the base of Silver Falls. Due to lack of recent rainfall, they were only a thin trickle. But I didn’t mind. I had made it!

I experimented with many angles of these falls, trying to capture their intricate beauty. I’ve named them “crimped” falls in my mind, because they reminded me of crimped hair.  A classic 90s kid memory.

These falls spill over the edge of a rather level rock face, and into a concrete-looking base. I had a hard time working out whether they were natural or man-made.

Perhaps they had been altered to assist with the water catchment.

In any case, they were well worth the trek. I was glad I decided to continue on. I took my time taking photos and trying not to freeze in the chilly air in the process. My phone was on 20% battery, but I wasn’t worried. I had brought my brand new portable charger with me.

After marvelling at the falls, I decided it was finally time to leave. I had no idea how to get back to civilisation, so I fished through my backpack to find my charger. I felt around in the mesh pocket, searching for my white iPhone cord. I started to panic. It wasn’t there. And then I remembered – I had used it to charge my phone the previous night in the hostel.

So there I was, on the side of Mt Wellington, with a no idea how to get back to Hobart, a phone on 20% – nope, now 19% -, a portable charger on 100%, and absolutely no way of using it to charge my phone.

Safe to say I was angry at myself. Fat lot of good a charger is without the cord, Annabel. But I had to calm down. I decided to continue on the track, across a small bridge that allows a front-on view of the falls, and downhill. I hadn’t come this way, so I had no idea where it led. But it had to go somewhere, right?

Soon I reached a small clearing with options to head left or right on the Pipeline Track. This clearing was accompanied by huge metal water tanks, and a small, very old shelter and picnic area with rotting wood off to the right. There were plenty of ‘historical’ information signs around here, but I was a tad too anxious/panicky to read them.

The Silver Falls Track meets The Pipeline Track, Google Maps. (2017).

Something possessed me to take the track to the left, so I did. Trudging along, there were no signs to help me out. The track was gravel and flat and wide, like a road. I had no idea where I was heading and I could feel my heart pumping faster. I didn’t want to use my phone to map anything in case I needed it to call someone for help.

Soon I was walking alongside a proper road, where I could see cars whizzing by. Well, I wasn’t so much alongside as I was elevated-next-to it. I wasn’t able to reach the road from this track. But the road was a good sign, so I continued on.

The Pipeline Track runs alongside Huon Road, Google Maps. (2017).

And then I hit Huon Road and popped out in the suburb Fern Tree. I felt relief wash over me. Everything was fine. I had been so close to civilisation all along! (This also means to get to these falls you could drive to Fern Tree – there’s a carpark across the road from the track – or get the metro bus).

The Pipeline Track leads to Fern Tree, Google Maps. (2017).

There was a bus stop right next to the Pipeline track, to the right. I checked the times. Buses came every hour. My eyes flicked around, frantically trying to decipher when the next bus was due. 2:49pm. I checked the time. It was 2:47pm.

I couldn’t believe my luck. If I had been a minute later. If I had dwaddled back at the track. If I had taken the time to read the historical signs. If I had taken a few minutes longer to decide which way to go. I would’ve been stuck in the cold, on the side of a mountain, waiting for the 3:49 bus.

But I wasn’t. I was lucky. I was an idiot – but I was a lucky idiot. The bus pulled up and the kind female driver let me have a concession fair using my Uni Melb student card, which cost me $2.30 to get back to Hobart (full fare is $3.30 AUD). I sat on the bus in the warmth, relaxing my muscles as I realised that everything was going to be A-okay.

Moral of the story? Always check the bus times, and plan your trip before you go. Know (roughly) where you are heading (I mean it’s always fun to explore), but at least know how you’re planning to get back to shelter and safety. And last, but not least, always check you’ve packed all your supplies before you go!

Quick Facts

Last visit June 2017
Best Time June-September
Start / Finish O’Grady Falls or Fern Tree Pipeline Track
Unsealed Roads No
Walking distance 4km return
Time 1-2hrs
Difficulty Moderate
FacilitiesFern Tree has toilets, tavern, bus stops
Lat & Long 42.9206 E 142.2504 S
NearbyFern Tree, O’Grady Falls, Strickland Falls
Watercourse Browns River

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