Stevenson Falls

Barramunga Parish, Victoria, Australia

About Stevenson Falls


Hiking Distance: 500m round trip (2.3km round trip from alternate car park)
Suggested Time: 30 minutes (1 hour from alternate car park)

Date first visited: 2006-11-16
Date last visited: 2017-11-18

Waterfall Latitude: -38.57559
Waterfall Longitude: 143.65719

Stevenson Falls was kind of a throw-in waterfall for Julie and I.

We treated it as a bonus waterfall after having been waterfall-saturated by visiting those found near Beech Forest (namely Triplet Falls, Beauchamp Falls, and Hopetoun Falls).

Stevenson_Falls_17_040_11172017 - Stevenson Falls
Stevenson Falls

But as you can see from the photo above, this 15m waterfall was no slouch in its own right as it had fairly reliable flow on the Gellibrand River.

The first time Julie and I were here back in November 2006, this was a fairly obscure waterfall where access was tricky due to the Gellibrand River swelling up.

The flooding got to the point that I wasn’t comfortable taking the rental car past an unbridged river ford.

This turned a short 500m return walk into a roughly 2.3km return hike.

Stevenson_Falls_013_11152006 - Stevenson Falls when we first saw it back in November 2006
Stevenson Falls when we first saw it back in November 2006

However, on a return trip here 11 years later, it appeared that the river crossing was bridged and the Stevenson Falls Campground was very busy.

So perhaps it wasn’t the obscure waterfall attraction that we once thought it was.

Hiking to Stevenson Falls – the direct way

From the nearest car park (see directions below), we crossed a metal bridge over the Gellibrand River, then the track traversed an attractive clearing or meadow.

Beyond this clearing, the track continued to follow alongside the eastern bank of the Gellibrand River flanked by ferns and tall trees (again something we came to associate with the Otways).

Stevenson_Falls_17_003_11172017 - The start of the shorter and more common track to Stevenson Falls
The start of the shorter and more common track to Stevenson Falls

After around 250m from the car park, we started to walk past some giant boulders that obstructed our ability to get a clean view of the Stevenson Falls.

Once we got past the boulders, we then got right to the very end of the track, where there was a viewing platform.

This view yielded the most unobstructed view of Stevenson Falls.

So after we had our fill of the falls, we returned the way we came to complete the 30-minute excursion.

Hiking to Stevenson Falls – the longer approach

Stevenson_Falls_005_11152006 - This part of the Gellibrand River was a bit too high and murky for my liking during our visit in November 2006. So we looked for an alternate way to access the Stevenson Falls
This part of the Gellibrand River was a bit too high and murky for my liking during our visit in November 2006. So we looked for an alternate way to access the Stevenson Falls

If in the off-chance that the road bridge over Gellibrand River to the Stevenson Falls was washed out or you desire to take a longer and quieter track towards the Stevenson Falls, then that would increase the hiking distance to about 2.3km round trip.

In fact, this was the manner in which Julie and I did this hike the first time we were here in November 2006).

This track remained towards the western banks of the Gellibrand River on a path that was quite flat and easy as we passed through a partially grassy and forested setting.

The track would eventually go past the other side of the old river ford (which was now bridged as of my last visit in November 2017).

Stevenson_Falls_002_11152006 - The alternate track started off in a somewhat open area alongside part of the Gellibrand River
The alternate track started off in a somewhat open area alongside part of the Gellibrand River

After a few paces more, we’d eventually arrive at the familiar car park and trailhead described above.

Under the somewhat flooded conditions on that first visit back in November 2006, we noticed that the Gellibrand River took on a more brownish color.

That brownish color (most likely the result of riverbank erosion due to flooding) also manifested itself in the appearance of the Stevenson Falls.

Since we were in the midst of a severe drought throughout the southeast of Australia during that visit, we were a bit incredulous at what we were seeing.

Stevenson_Falls_006_11152006 - The roundabout route described in this section ultimately took us to the familiar trailhead for the Stevenson Falls
The roundabout route described in this section ultimately took us to the familiar trailhead for the Stevenson Falls

Perhaps the strange crazy weather we had been experiencing throughout the Great Ocean Road part of the trip could very well have swelled up the river.

And it might have gotten to the point that the falls was performing very well for us at the time (possibly muddying up the river as well).

Rehabilitation work near Stevenson Falls

One quirky thing that we noticed on our first visit to the falls was that there was some rehabilitation work going on by poisoning non-native species concurrently with replanting the area with native flora.

It was similar to the Mainland Island concept that some parts of New Zealand were implementing.

Stevenson_Falls_024_11152006 - The familiar clearing on the way to Stevenson Falls when we first did this hike back in November 2006
The familiar clearing on the way to Stevenson Falls when we first did this hike back in November 2006

This effort was manifested in the form of labeling on some of the vegetation by the track.

When I came back here 11 years later, I didn’t notice such a program going on.

I’m not sure whether that was a result of the program being a success or a failure, or whether it was overcome by some other factor preventing its continued use.

Given that the now-popular Stevenson Falls Campground was set further back near the old river ford, I suspected that the longer track might still be in use for those wishing to hike from the campground to the falls.

It always seemed to be an available option regardless of what the conditions might be on the shortcut road to the main car park for the falls.

Authorities

Stevenson Falls resides in the Colac Otway Shire near Apollo Bay, Victoria. It is administered by the Colac Otway Shire Council. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website or Facebook page.

Stevenson_Falls_17_002_11172017 - At the main car park, which was closest to Stevenson Falls when we did our November 2017 visit. Notice how empty this place was at the time
Stevenson_Falls_17_006_11172017 - Shortly after the bridged crossing of the Gellibrand River, the Stevenson Falls track traversed through this attractive clearing as seen during our November 2017 visit
Stevenson_Falls_17_008_11172017 - On the short track following along the Gellibrand River to Stevenson Falls during our November 2017 visit
Stevenson_Falls_17_010_11172017 - Starting to see the Stevenson Falls in the distance during our November 2017 visit, but this large boulder was obstructing the view
Stevenson_Falls_17_013_11172017 - Stevenson Falls was revealing more of itself the further along the track I went during the November 2017 visit
Stevenson_Falls_17_020_11172017 - Climbing up to the lookout deck for the Stevenson Falls during my November 2017 visit. I didn't remember such infrastructure when I first came here in November 2006
Stevenson_Falls_17_026_11172017 - Finally a clean look at the Stevenson Falls from the lookout at the end of the track as seen during my November 2017 visit
Stevenson_Falls_17_031_11172017 - Looking downstream from the lookout at the end of the Stevenson Falls Track during my November 2017 visit
Stevenson_Falls_17_037_11172017 - Another direct look at the Stevenson Falls from the lookout at the end of the track during my November 2017 visit
Stevenson_Falls_17_055_11172017 - Last look at the Stevenson Falls before I headed back to the car during my second visit in November 2017
Stevenson_Falls_17_060_11172017 - Context of the Stevenson Falls track as I was headed back from the falls during my visit in November 2017
Stevenson_Falls_17_061_11172017 - When I started heading back from Stevenson Falls during my November 2017 visit, I noticed some other folks starting to show up
Stevenson_Falls_17_062_11172017 - Looking back at other people also headed to Stevenson Falls during my return hike in November 2017 visit
Stevenson_Falls_17_065_11172017 - Context of some people on the Stevenson Falls Trail at the clearing near the trailhead during my November 2017 visit
Stevenson_Falls_17_070_11172017 - Lots of people starting off the short walk to Stevenson Falls by traversing this metal bridge over the Gellibrand River. This was just as I was concluding my November 2017 visit
Stevenson_Falls_004_11152006 - Back during our first visit to Stevenson Falls in November 2006, we took a more roundabout walk to avoid the fording of the Gellibrand River. This stretch along the open terrain was part of that slightly longer track to Stevenson Falls
Stevenson_Falls_007_11152006 - The Stevenson Falls Trail was now hugging the brown Gellibrand River as seen during our November 2006 visit. Notice how the river was so much more brown on this day than on our November 2017 visit
Stevenson_Falls_009_11152006 - Massive boulder still planted before the Stevenson Falls during our November 2006 visit
Stevenson_Falls_010_11152006 - Beyond the huge boulder and looking at Stevenson Falls fronted by smaller boulders as seen during our November 2006 visit
Stevenson_Falls_017_11152006 - Stevenson Falls as seen from the end of the track back in November 2006
Stevenson_Falls_021_11152006 - Another look at Stevenson Falls from the end of the trail during our November 2006 visit

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We reached Stevenson Falls from Apollo Bay so we’ll describe how we got here using that town as the starting point.

From the main drag through Apollo Bay, we drove about 6km east on the Great Ocean Road (B100) before turning left onto Skenes Creek Rd (C119).

We followed Skenes Creek Rd for about 26km north (becoming Forrest-Apollo Bay Rd after passing by the junction with Turtons Track or C159 Road) until we turned left at an easy-to-miss turnoff for the Upper Gellibrand Road.

After about 1.3km, we then kept left to remain on the Upper Gellibrand Road, which now became a narrow (practically single-lane), curvy, unsealed mountain road that ultimately headed into the Stevenson Falls Campground after another 3km.

Stevenson_Falls_001_11152006 - The start of the longer walk to Stevenson Falls, which didn't involve driving the ford of the Gellibrand River back in November 2006
The start of the longer walk to Stevenson Falls, which didn’t involve driving the ford of the Gellibrand River back in November 2006

At this camping area, there was a fork in the road where going left would take us directly to the nearest car park for the falls.

On our first visit in November 2006, there was an unbridged ford of the Gellibrand River further along the road on that left fork, and the river swollen at the time and could not be safely crossed (at least in my judgment).

Therefore, we had to backtrack and take the other fork, which led to an alternate car park and trailhead in another 300m southwest of the campground.

Starting the hike from here meant the round trip hiking distance was on the order of 2.3km.

Stevenson_Falls_17_072_11172017 - The main car park for the Stevenson Falls walk as seen in November 2017
The main car park for the Stevenson Falls walk as seen in November 2017

As of our latest visit in November 2017, it appeared that the ford of the Gellibrand River was now bridged (or at least it was more trivial to cross on that day than it was 11 years prior).

In any case, I managed to continue down this road from the campground for another kilometre before reaching the official car park and trailhead for the falls.

Overall, this drive took me 45 minutes or so.

For geographical context, Apollo Bay was about 98km (90 minutes drive) east of Port Campbell, 200km (over 2.5 hours drive) southwest of Melbourne along a more inland route, but it was about 189km (about 3 hours drive) southwest of Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road.

Right to left sweep from near river level showing the watercourse passing through

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Tagged with: barramunga, otway, otways, great ocean road, apollo bay, beech forest, victoria, australia, waterfall, colac, gellibrand river, barramunga creek



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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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