Sheoak Falls

Great Otway National Park / Surf Coast Shire / Great Ocean Road / Lorne, Victoria, Australia

Rating: 2     Difficulty: 2
Sheoak Falls

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Sheoak Falls was one of the few Great Ocean Road waterfalls that was very close to the Southern Ocean coast. We had seen another one that could be called a coastal waterfall on the Great Ocean Road at Carisbrook Falls. The difference with Sheoak Falls was that it happened to be in the Angahook-Lorne State Park (part of the Great Otway National Park) near the coastal town of Lorne, and it required a little more hiking to reach. Although the coastal scenery we were able to enjoy along the track was reason enough to come here, the 15m waterfall itself was also pretty satisfying. Even on a trip where the Great Australian Drought adversely affected our waterfalling during our November 2006 visit, this waterfall still had a decent flow that even left interesting foam patterns in its plunge pool. On a follow-up visit in November 2017 when the drought wasn't as much of a factor, the falls still looked almost as it did 11 years earlier!

From the well-signed car park (see directions below), we took a 1.3km (45 minutes return) track that initially started off with a fairly steep uphill to rise above the Great Ocean Road. Then when the climb flattened out, we were able to look back at the gorgeous coastal scenery where the Great Ocean Road followed the coastline while the Southern Ocean continued to churn and nibble at the land. The track then descended towards a wetland area flanking Sheoak Creek.

Once in the wetland area, the track then continued further inland. At that point, the terrain shifted from a somewhat rocky valley with windswept shrubs into a more forested setting. Even though the terrain here seemed to be more exposed to sunlight (i.e. it could be quite hot here as it was during a recent visit in November 2017), there was still quite a bit of dense and lush vegetation the further inland we went. So apparently there was plenty of moisture in this coastal ecosystem to keep things green and offsetting the onslaught of brown from the dessicating coastal winds and salt that inevitably would come in from the coast. Towards the back end of the wetland, the track then climbed before bypassing a junction. We kept right to descend towards Sheoak Creek, but the path on the left was for a much longer walk that eventually led to the Sheoak Picnic Area.

Eventually at around 650m from the official car park, we made it to the falls where the Sheoak Creek tumbled over what appeared to be layers of hard rock stained grey from the constant moisture of the creek. We weren't sure if the waterfall's flow was indicative of the norm thanks to the rain we were getting, or if it was on the low side from the drought despite the rains (it had rained prior to our visit on both of our trips here in 2006 and 2017). Whatever the case, as you can see from the photos on this page, we had a pleasing experience thanks in large part to its relatively healthy flow.

Finally, it was worth mentioning that the first time we did this hike, we actually started from a pullout next to a large bend in the Great Ocean Road just 200m north of the turnoff for the official car park and trailhead. That actually reduced our hiking distance to 1km round trip, but apparently over the years, Parks Victoria set up infrastructure to discourage going this route as they had replanted the area with the same kind of shrubbery that the rest of the wetlands had. Even a guardrail was set up by the old pullout to make it less obvious to passing motorists. So for all intents and purposes, I'd consider going that route forbidden, especially since the more sanctioned route had more to see anyways despite the up-and-down hill that was added to the route.

We didn't attempt to do the long trail from the falls to the Sheoak Picnic Area. While that track seemed to offer other attractions like the Swallow Cave, Castle Rock, and Scaw Fell, it was about a 7km one-way route, which required a lot more time than we had to devote on both of our trips to this area.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

View of the Great Ocean Road and the Southern Ocean from the Sheoak Falls Track on a gorgeous dayView of the Great Ocean Road and the Southern Ocean from the Sheoak Falls Track on a gorgeous day
Sheoak Falls was just south of the beach town of Lorne along the Great Ocean Road. On the day we visited in November 2017, the beach was very busy thanks to the beautiful weatherSheoak Falls was just south of the beach town of Lorne along the Great Ocean Road. On the day we visited in November 2017, the beach was very busy thanks to the beautiful weather
Further west of Lorne for another 23km, we happened to spot this koala hanging from one of the tall gum trees at Kennett RiverFurther west of Lorne for another 23km, we happened to spot this koala hanging from one of the tall gum trees at Kennett River
Lorne (where Sheoak Falls was located) was our last town stop before returning to Melbourne, where lots was going on in terms of sightseeing and festivalsLorne (where Sheoak Falls was located) was our last town stop before returning to Melbourne, where lots was going on in terms of sightseeing and festivals
The entrance to the Sheoak Falls car parkThe entrance to the Sheoak Falls car park

If the car park is full like this, there is additional spillover parking on some of the pullouts across the Great Ocean RoadIf the car park is full like this, there is additional spillover parking on some of the pullouts across the Great Ocean Road

The hike immediately ascended these steps, which made things pretty sweaty on a hot day like when this photo was taken in November 2017The hike immediately ascended these steps, which made things pretty sweaty on a hot day like when this photo was taken in November 2017

Approaching an overlook at the apex of the initial climbApproaching an overlook at the apex of the initial climb

Context of the Shoeak Falls hike and the Great Ocean Road as the track descended towards the wetlandsContext of the falls hike and the Great Ocean Road as the track descended towards the wetlands

Descending into the wetlands belowDescending into the wetlands below

Julie hiking alongside the wetlands part of the Sheoak Falls TrackJulie hiking alongside the wetlands part of the falls track

This was what the wetlands looked like on our first visit back in November 2006This was what the wetlands looked like on our first visit back in November 2006

After the wetlands section, the track made this climbAfter the wetlands section, the track made this climb

At this point, we started to see Sheoak Falls up aheadAt this point, we started to see the falls up ahead

Finally at the Sheoak Falls, where the shade on the right along with some mist coming from the falls provided some welcome relief from the early Summer heat of the day in November 2017Finally at the Sheoak Falls, where the shade on the right along with some mist coming from the falls provided some welcome relief from the early Summer heat of the day in November 2017

Looking across the calm plunge pool for Sheoak Falls, which seemed very peaceful and idyllic when this picture was taken back in November 2006Looking across the calm plunge pool for Sheoak Falls, which seemed very peaceful and idyllic when this picture was taken back in November 2006

Another angled look at the Sheoak FallsAnother angled look at the falls

View of Sheoak Falls from further downstreamView of Sheoak Falls from further downstream

Similar view of Sheoak Falls amidst some surprising lush fern-fringed scenery in November 2006Similar view of the falls amidst some surprising lush fern-fringed scenery in November 2006

The nice thing about the return walk from Sheoak Falls was that we got to experience the gorgeous blues of the Southern OceanThe nice thing about the return walk from the falls was that we got to experience the gorgeous blues of the Southern Ocean

More coastal scenery on the return walk along the Sheoak Falls TrackMore coastal scenery on the return walk along the falls track


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Checking out the falls from a few different angles right across its plunge pool


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

Sheoak Falls is about 5.2km south along the Great Ocean Road (B100) from its intersection with Williams St (eventually Erskine Falls Rd) in the town of Lorne. The car park was on the right (i.e. the inland side away from the ocean).

If the main car park was full, we also noticed there was another large pullout on the opposite side of the Great Ocean Road. If parked there, due to the high speed of vehicles driving the Great Ocean Road, care must be taken to walk across the road and start the hike.

Since Julie and I visited the falls from Apollo Bay, we took the Great Ocean Road for about 40km east before finding the signposted car park for the falls on our left.

For context, Lorne was 47km (a little over an hour drive) east of Apollo Bay, 142km (under 2 hours drive) southwest of Melbourne or 68km (over an hour drive) southwest of Geelong.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES




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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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