Phantom Falls

Great Otway National Park / Lorne, Victoria, Australia

About Phantom Falls


Hiking Distance: 3.6km round trip
Suggested Time: 75-90 minutes

Date first visited: 2006-11-17
Date last visited: 2017-11-19

Waterfall Latitude: -38.54205
Waterfall Longitude: 143.94799

Phantom Falls was the last of the waterfalls in Victoria that we visited in the Great Ocean Road vicinity.

Indeed, the forests of the Otways and the Angahook-Lorne region happened to be an area so full of waterfalls that visiting this one was almost an afterthought.

Phantom_Falls_026_11162006 - Phantom Falls
Phantom Falls

But as you can see from the photo above, this 15m falls on the St George River was attractive and worth the effort to reach.

Each time we’ve made a visit (once in November 2006 and another in November 2017), the falls had healthy flow.

That said, I’ve seen other photos in the literature showing the falls with even more volume and width.

Just the fact that Phantom Falls was flowing on that first visit when southeastern Australia was caught in a nearly decade-long drought certainly made me think of this falls as a pretty reliable one.

Hiking to Phantom Falls from the Allenvale Car Park

Phantom_Falls_17_010_11182017 - Crossing through private property en route to Phantom Falls from the Allenvale Car Park
Crossing through private property en route to Phantom Falls from the Allenvale Car Park

It seemed like there was more than one way to hike to this waterfall, but Julie and I took an out-and-back hike from the Allenvale Road access (see directions below).

This took us about 90 minutes to cover the 3.6km round trip distance.

The mostly uphill track pretty much meandered alongside the St George River, including going through some private property, which made this somewhat of an unusual hike.

From the Allenvale Car Park, we crossed the unsealed Allenvale Rd and onto the signed track, which skirted the St George River before entering a grassy area belonging to a private landowner.

Phantom_Falls_17_013_11182017 - After crossing the private property, the Phantom Falls Track still skirted this forest where the open clearing was still part of the private property
After crossing the private property, the Phantom Falls Track still skirted this forest where the open clearing was still part of the private property

I noticed that signage and arrows were strategically placed to minimize the disturbance to the gracious landowner enabling this route to occur in the first place.

Once we were past the property or farm, the path then skirted a fenced area sandwiched between the boundaries of the private property and the well-vegetated banks of the St George River.

The track would persist like this for the next 300m or so before the track started to climb in earnest.

The climb seemed like it was endless as it kept going up for the next 500m or so.

Phantom_Falls_17_025_11182017 - This was the steepest part of the long climb, which was right at the apex of the Phantom Falls Track
This was the steepest part of the long climb, which was right at the apex of the Phantom Falls Track

The steepest part of the climb was near the apex, and it was steep enough to make me feel like each step was burning my calves.

Once we got past this relentless climb, we were well above the gorge carved out by the St George River.

By then, the track had flattened out and meandered alongside the southern rim of the gorge with the river rushing audibly below.

Eventually, after 1.6km from the start, we reached a pair of signposted trail junctions leading to other trails and trailheads.

Phantom_Falls_17_040_11182017 - Water pipe seen along the descent to the base of Phantom Falls. I suspect that this was to divert some of the water from the St George River to feed some of the vineyards or crops in that private property we had traversed earlier
Water pipe seen along the descent to the base of Phantom Falls. I suspect that this was to divert some of the water from the St George River to feed some of the vineyards or crops in that private property we had traversed earlier

Sticking to the Phantom Falls route, shortly thereafter, we reached a signposted spur a short distance before the main track was about to cross over a ford (above the target waterfall).

Taking the spur track, it steeply descended a couple of switchbacks with railings to hold onto.

The track was also alongside some surprising water pipes before reaching the banks of the river below.

I suspect that those pipes were set up to divert some of the St George River for agricultural purposes like that private property we had passed through earlier.

Phantom_Falls_017_11162006 - Closer look at Phantom Falls after finally making it down to its plunge pool
Closer look at Phantom Falls after finally making it down to its plunge pool

That was when we were finally face-to-face with the Phantom Falls and its well-shaded plunge pool and alcoves.

While this was one of the more unsung waterfalls of the Angahook-Lorne State Park (let alone the Great Otway National Park), there were still a surprising number of people sharing the falls with us on each of our visits here.

Speculating on shorter approaches to Phantom Falls

I suspect that the presence of people could be due to the fact that there were multiple ways to hike to the falls in addition to the Allenvale Car Park approach that we took.

According to the maps, it appeared that the Erskine Falls Road approach near the Cora Lynn Car Park could be a slightly shorter approach distance-wise.

Phantom_Falls_17_034_11182017 - It might have been possible to hike to Phantom Falls from an alternate trail, which would have traversed the St George River immediately upstream of the Phantom Falls
It might have been possible to hike to Phantom Falls from an alternate trail, which would have traversed the St George River immediately upstream of the Phantom Falls

However, that would involve going across the St George River ford that we avoided at the top of Phantom Falls.

In any case, despite the misleading signage at the Allenvale trailhead suggesting the hike to the falls was either 2.5km each way or 2.5km round trip, according to my GPS logs, we went 3.6km round trip (or 1.8km in each direction).

Authorities

Phantom Falls resides in the Great Otway National Park near Lorne, Victoria. It is administered by Parks Victoria. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Phantom_Falls_17_005_11182017 - Signage at the trailhead for Phantom Falls opposite the Allenvale Car Park as seen during our November 2017 visit
Phantom_Falls_17_007_11182017 - Initially, the Phantom Falls Track followed along the St George River as it was approaching private property during my November 2017 hike
Phantom_Falls_17_011_11182017 - The arrows and signs led us across this driveway as we were making our traverse through the private property en route to Phantom Falls during our November 2017 visit
Phantom_Falls_17_017_11182017 - Eventually, the Phantom Falls Track went through more conventional forest as we left the private property behind on our November 2017 hike
Phantom_Falls_17_020_11182017 - Then, the Phantom Falls Track started to climb
Phantom_Falls_17_023_11182017 - The uphill Phantom Falls Track seemed considerably narrower during our November 2017 hike compared to the last time we were here 11 years ago
Phantom_Falls_17_030_11182017 - After the long climb, the Phantom Falls Track flattened out and meandered along the south rim of the gorge carved out by the St George River below. This was shot in November 2017
Phantom_Falls_17_032_11182017 - Signage reassuring me that I was on the right track to Phantom Falls during my November 2017 visit
Phantom_Falls_17_038_11182017 - On the steep descent to the base of Phantom Falls during my November 2017 visit
Phantom_Falls_17_047_11182017 - Making it down to the secluded Phantom Falls in the late afternoon of my November 2017 visit
Phantom_Falls_17_057_11182017 - Broad look at the Phantom Falls on my November 2017 visit, which was for the first time in 11 years
Phantom_Falls_17_060_11182017 - Another late afternoon look at the Phantom Falls with a tree by it as seen during my November 2017 visit
Phantom_Falls_17_067_11182017 - I wasn't alone on my bush walk to Phantom Falls in November 2017 as apparently these women were also on their way back from their visit
Phantom_Falls_001_jx_11162006 - This was the sign near the Allenvale Car Park as seen during our November 2006 visit. You might notice that it looked a bit different in November 2017, and even the last part about the Cora Lynn Car Park was changed as well
Phantom_Falls_001_11162006 - The open field through the private property from our first visit to Phantom Falls back in November 2006
Phantom_Falls_003_11162006 - Julie walking uphill on the gravel road towards Phantom Falls as seen from back in November 2006
Phantom_Falls_004_11162006 - Sign indicating that we were getting pretty close to Phantom Falls from back in November 2006
Phantom_Falls_005_11162006 - Hard to see Phantom Falls from up here.  So we had to do the descent to its base during our November 2006 visit
Phantom_Falls_015_11162006 - Long exposed view of Phantom Falls at its base as seen from back in November 2006
Phantom_Falls_018_11162006 - Broad look at the base of Phantom Falls during our November 2006 visit

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While there are many approaches to get to the Allenvale Rd into the forests further up the hills from Lorne, we’ll start off by describing what we think would be the most straightforward route.

We’ll then get to alternative approaches later on in this section.

The easiest approach would be from the south end of the town centre of Lorne where the Great Ocean Road / Mountjoy Parade would intersect with Bay St at a roundabout opposite the car park for the Lorne Beach at Loutit Bay.

Going up the steep residential road at Bay St for 450m, we then make a right turn onto George St.

In about 200m George St then entered a roundabout, where we took the first exit to go onto Allenvale Rd.

From there, we followed the unsealed road for about 1.5km until we reached the Allenvale Car Park on our left.

The Phantom Falls Track began opposite the Allenvale Rd from the car park (the signs and track leading from the far end of the car park was for the Allenvale Mill Site Camping Area and not for the waterfall).

Phantom_Falls_17_001_11182017 - The Allenvale Car Park
The Allenvale Car Park

If you’re coming into town from the north, it might be worth taking Otway St, which leaves the Great Ocean Road at a roundabout by the Lorne Visitor Centre.

We’d then follow the Otway St for about 1km to the roundabout hooking us up with Allenvale Rd (2nd exit).

Afterwards, we’d take the unsealed road for 1.5km to the Allenvale Car Park.

Finally, there was also an alternate trail leading from the Sheoak Picnic Area to the Phantom Falls.

Phantom_Falls_009_jx_11162006 - Back on our first visit to Phantom Falls in November 2006, we noticed this gate near the trailhead across from the Allenvale Car Park. I'm not sure if that gate is still there anymore because I didn't recall seeing it in November 2017
Back on our first visit to Phantom Falls in November 2006, we noticed this gate near the trailhead across from the Allenvale Car Park. I’m not sure if that gate is still there anymore because I didn’t recall seeing it in November 2017

This route didn’t involve crossing through private property though the track was a bit longer than the one we took from the Allenvale Car Park.

In any case, the Sheoak Picnic Area was an additional 1.9km beyond the Allenvale Car Park along the bumpy Allenvale Rd.

For geographical 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.

Left to right sweep before zooming in on the falling water of Phantom Falls

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Tagged with: surf coast, lorne, great ocean road, otway, otways, angahook, victoria, australia, waterfall, allenvale, private property, st george river



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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