The Otways; the Otway Ranges; the Great Otway National Park - call it what you like but one thing which is certain is that this small national park is one of the most beautiful and diverse parks in Australia.
The Great Otway National Park was officially declared in 2004 by joining crown land reserves, state forests and some smaller national parks into just one park totalling 103 square kilometres. Situated in the southwest of Victoria and 162 kilometres west of Melbourne and straddling much of the Great Ocean Road it is now a thriving and fascinating tourist destination.
There is just so much to see and do in the Otways and many tourists make the mistake of trying to see it all in a day with a bus tour from Melbourne. If all you really want to see is the 12 Apostles and a fleeting glimpse of the Otways then a one day tour may be your best bet. However, what you really need to do is to self drive, take your time, breathe in the fresh Otways air and have a good look around.
You'll be able to see some of what is on offer simply by driving the Great Ocean Road. This road hugs a coastline which is simply spectacular and is without a doubt one of the world's best coastal drives. By driving yourself you'll be able to stop and take advantage of some of the best
beaches in the country.
To really see what the Otways is all about you must be a little more daring ; turn off the Great Ocean Road and find your adventurous self. Like walking through a closet into Narnia you will find yourself in a new and wondrous world. Magnificent, temperate rainforests are home to some great forest walks with stunning waterfalls, flora and fauna. What's great about walking in the Otways now is that everything is so accessible. Parks Victoria have spent a lot of time and effort in making sure that all visitors to this region can access all the major attractions.
Two privately run attractions within the Great Otway National Park that you really should visit are the Otway Fly and the Cape Otway Lighstation. The Otway Fly is the longest and tallest rainforest canopy walk in the world and if you want to see the Southern Ocean from the best vantage point possible then you can't beat the Lighthouse. This is also the place where you will encounter lots of koalas.
While we are in the Otways we should make mention of one of the latest developments within the Great Otway National Park - The Great Ocean Walk. The Great Ocean Walk begins at Apollo Bay and weaves its way along the coastline for almost 100 kilometres where it ends in spectacular fashion at the world famous 12 Apostles. For all those trekkers out there, this is a must do.
For those of us who cannot travel anywhere without also thinking about our stomachs will be glad to know that the Otways is now a foodies heaven. The Otway Harvest Trail is a recent development which allows tourists to follow a trail throughout the Otways which will enable them to taste the flavours of Otway produce from wineries to provedores to home access to local farms.
To take full advantage of all the sights and attractions of the Otways you are going to need to spend more than a single day here. A minimum of three days, preferably a week is necessary to do it justice. Fortunately there is now a huge range of accommodation in the Otways to suit all tastes, requirements and budgets. As stated earlier in this piece, the Otways straddles the Great Ocean Road for quite some distance and you may prefer to stay for some of your time in accommodation on the Great Ocean Road. Again, there is no shortage of beds but be forewarned that there may be during peak times. So, if you are intending to travel to this region when it is busy make sue that you book well in advance.
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