Hopkins Falls was our waterfalling excuse to visit the quieter west end of the Great Ocean Road near the coastal town of Warrnambool. It was a short but wide waterfall (said to be 11m high and the widest in the country at 90m) on the Hopkins River so it was flowing even during our drought-affected visit back in November 2006, where that drought lasted for the better part of the decade. During a return trip back to the area in November 2017, the Hopkins River had significantly more flow (probably aided by the couple of days of heavy rains that rejuvenated the watercourses of Western Victoria), and the picture you see at the top of this page was an example of the falls in a healthier state than on our first visit.
Flanked by wide open agricultural fields that were once part of a wide field of flowing basalt lava, the falls and its surroundings were easily seen from a handful of lookouts all within close proximity to the car park. We were able to experience all of these lookouts to better appreciate the falls from different angles while also reading the interpretive signs to get a better appreciation of its history and significance. Overall, we spent about 30-45 minutes away from the car to take it all in, but the physical exertion was pretty minimal.
The lookouts nearest the car park revealed the Hopkins River upstream of the brink of the falls as well as the bridge (built in 1938) traversing the river, which was once the site of a treacherous ford claiming lives and resulting in several rescues during the days of European settlement in the late 19th century. The lookout nearest to the brink of the Hopkins Falls had a handy "Fotopol", where I was able to screw on my DSLR camera for people shots and long exposure shots without the need for a tripod. Another 105m down some steps led to a lower lookout that also possessed a Fotopol in addition to the lower and more intimate vantage point of the Hopkins Falls.
According to the signage, three aboriginal clans (Kirrae whurung, Gundidj-mara, and Tjap whurrung) would gather around the area to catch abundant eel, share food, and socialize. The name of the falls was said to mean "eels bite the stones" in the Kirrae whurung tongue. The eels were said to have migrated from as far as the tropical waters of Vanuatu to spawn. More recently, the river (and falls) got its name from Major Thomas Mitchell who named it in honour of his friend Major John Paul Hopkins. Both of them were amongst the early European explorers attracted by the abundant water and rich volcanic soil (and hence the agricultural presence we noticed during our visits).
View towards the ocean from the visitor centre in the charming coastal town of Warrnambool, which was the nearest town of any significant size to Hopkins Falls
About 12km east of Warrnambool, the Great Ocean Road (B100) branched off of Princes Hwy (A1) and passed by awesome coastal scenery such as the Bay of Islands section nearly 36km further to the east
Nearly 9.5km east of the Bay of Islands Lookout was the Grotto, which featured this impressive sea arch
Another attraction on the Great Ocean Road near the Grotto was The Arch
Looking over the top of the falls from the lookout right next to the car park
Looking upstream towards the bridge traversing the Hopkins River, which made traversing the river trivial since its completion in 1938. Prior to that, this ford claimed many lives and forced even more rescues
Context of Julie checking out the falls from one of the lookouts right next to the car park
Profile view of the falls from the lookout at its brink
Profile view from near the top of the falls in low flow during our November 2006 visit
Looking down from the brink of the falls towards the lower lookout
This was the convenient Fotopol positioned on the lookout near the brink of the falls
Starting on the short 105m walk down to the lower lookout
Continuing down the steps towards the lower lookout for the falls
Approaching the lower lookout for the falls
Another well-positioned Fotopol, but this one was at the lower lookout
Making use of the Fotopol to produce a long exposure shot like this one
Looking right at the Hopkins Falls near its base. It appeared that the lookout boundaries weren't set up during our first visit to the falls back in November 2006 so we were able to get pretty close to it back then
We'll describe the driving route from Warrnambool since that was the nearest major town along the Great Ocean Road.
Leaving Warrnambool, we drove east on the Princes Highway (A1) for about 8km east of the A1/B120 intersection. There was a signpost pointing left for Hopkins Falls, and so we followed the sign and turned left onto the Allansford-Wangoom Road. Note that this turnoff was just west of the town of Allansford.
We then drove about 6.5km on the Allansford-Wangoom Road to the Hopkins Falls Road, where we then turned right (as also instructed by the signs). We then followed the Hopkins Falls road for the next 4km before turning right into the car park just before the bridge over the Hopkins River.
Overall, this drive took us less than 20 minutes.
There were also alternate routes to what we described earlier. One such route was to follow the B120 from the A1 in Warrnambool before turning right onto the Wangoom Road, then taking that road towards the Hopkins Falls Road. Another approach was to stay on the Princes Highway (A1) east of Warrnambool then turning left onto a narrow Dwarroon Rd before turning left onto Hopkins Falls Rd and following it past the Hopkins River to the car park.
To give you some geographical context, Warrnambool was about 29km east of Port Fairy, 62km (under an hour drive) west of Port Campbell, 100km (75 minutes drive) southeast of Hamilton, and 266km (about 3 hours drive) west of Melbourne via an inland route. If taking the Great Ocean Road all the way from Melbourne, then this distance would be 355km (about 5.5 hours drive).
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What Other Visitors Have Said
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
Hopkins Falls at full flow We visited this falls in August 2010. The recent wet weather had the falls at a very high flow, and the spectacle was bringing in many of the locals …
It bode ill. "I can't remember the last time it rained," the man in Devonport had said. And there I was looking forward to photographing waterfalls. Things change though;...[more]
King George Falls Are Awesome
I'm a cameraman for a fishing show and on a charter through the Kimberly we stopped over at King George Falls during the dry season...[more]
Cedar Creek Falls Jan 2008
Hi, my name is Phil and I just wanted to share a photo of Cedar Creek Falls in full flow. Had you been there a few months earlier you would have seen it too. We had been staying in Proserpine...[more]
Hopkins Falls at full flow
We visited this falls in August 2010. The recent wet weather had the falls at a very high flow, and the spectacle was bringing in many of the locals to come and gawk...[more]
Hindmarsh Falls in full flow
We went to Hindmarsh Falls today (13/7/09) and it was in full flow. The past couple of weeks we have had consistent rain, especially in the past 4 days which...[more]
Dangars Falls - Great When Wet
I've been to Dangars Falls many times but I've never seen it totally dry. Once I was there just after a peak flood and it was spectacular. Sadly...[more]
Mongrel Bastards Mountain Bike Club
As a Queenslander in 'enemy territory' I was lucky enough to be allowed to tag along on a 75km mountain bike ride that started at Eltham to the South, took in Minyon Falls and looped back...[more]
Whoever penned the last sentence hadn't been there for some time. Signs on the most important intersection aren't apparent which cost me about 10 minutes, and another sign was overgrown with foxglove...[more]