Australia Travel

A Walk Among The Great Ocean Road Redwoods

Great Ocean Road Redwoods

I first heard about the Great Ocean Road Redwoods on Instagram, just one photograph while I was doing some very last minute research on the night before our trip (also, coincidently, when we had booked our accomodation, told you it was last minute!). A person, standing in a shaded canopy, positively dwarfed by enormous California Redwoods. It has always been my dream to see these trees, and I had dealt with the fact that only a trip to America would allow for it. But there, right in front of me, Great Ocean Road Redwoods.

So, we dug deeper. There wasn’t a lot on these unusual plants seemingly in the middle of nowhere. From what we gathered, a small, unsealed logging road up to Beech Forest would get us there, and that was just enough information for an adventure. As a bonus, the Great Ocean Road redwoods happened to be within easy reach of two waterfalls we also wanted to see on our trip: Hopetoun Falls and Beauchamp Falls.

We stayed in Apollo Bay the night before and left from there the following day, getting instructions from the waitress in our breakfast joint as to the way to go. Google had told us we had to go back up the Great Ocean Road towards Skenes Creek, but she told us there was actually a small, unsealed logging track that was much faster, even for our little Ford Focus. All we had to do was go back down the Great Ocean Road towards Cape Otway and then make a right at a road marked Beech Forest.

Great Ocean Road Redwoods
Great Ocean Road Redwoods

Everything about the place was beautiful, and that we before we had even arrived at the Great Ocean Road redwoods. The sunlight filtered through the native gums and splayed itself across the road in golden rays. In the forest, all of the sounds of civilisation were absorbed, leaving us feeling totally alone. After thinking about 100 times we might have missed the turnoff, we spot the tops of the trees in the distance. Here we are. The Great Ocean Road redwoods.

On first approach, we are dwarfed by there giants. They are well over 50 metres, a towering wall of needles and trunks. We tread slowly into their midst, wondering perhaps if we are supposed to be here. The air is thick with loamy soil and the sounds of running water. The meagre light that makes it down from the canopy dances along the textured trunks, and makes shadows amongst the tree ferns on the lower levels. There’s a magic here, and I am speechlessly surrounded by it.

The Great Otway National Park was recently extended to include the Great Ocean Road redwoods, planted in the 1930s as a logging experiment. They were never cut down, and we are grateful for it. Growing strong along the banks of the Aire River, they’re a hidden secret that enchants us with a single whiff of their pine sap, and a single glance at their statuesque trunks.

Great Ocean Road Redwoods
Great Ocean Road Redwoods

I have always wanted to see the redwoods, and the Great Ocean road redwoods deliver in spades exactly the feeling I imagined I would have walking amongst them. I am reminded now, writing this a week or two down the track, of the words of John Steinbeck. Like myself, Steinbeck was awed by redwoods, calling them ambassadors from another time. He also said:

“The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always…from them comes silence and awe. The most irreverent of men, in the presence of redwoods, goes under a spell of wonder and respect.”John Steinbeck

I have to say, I’m inclined to agree.

Great Ocean Road Redwoods

Great Ocean Road Redwoods
Great Ocean Road Redwoods
Tips For The Great Ocean Road Redwoods
  • The road is gravel, but was in pretty good condition when we were there. If you have a very small car, or if there has been a significant amount of heavy rain, I wouldn’t recommend it. You can go either up towards Skenes Creek and around (with only a small part unsealed) or down and around (again, having to use only a small part of unsealed road).
  • The Great Ocean Road redwoods are the perfect place for a picnic! Bring a rug (waterproof on one side) or a small table and chairs, and enjoy one. We’ve heard it can be busy in the summer, so if you’re visiting then go early!
  • Beware the slippery ground. Underneath the canopy is spongy with needles from the trees, but when the ground is wet they are super slippery, and very easy to fall on when you’re trekking around too busy looking up to be looking down.
  • Photographers, tripods are recommended! My photographs would have been 100x better if I had owned one. If you don’t have a tripod, aim for a lens with a wider aperture. Mine was an f/4 and definitely not enough.

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