This ride, unlike most other rides in the Otway Ranges is not overly challenging as it gently climbs through Paradise Valley toward Mariner’s Falls. Only the last small section is slightly wild with a few stepping stone crossings over the Barham River and the narrow track leading up to the falls. This ride reaches into the tranquillity and beauty of the Otway Ranges: filtered sun rays through fern groves, towering mountain ash, musty perfumes of the bush and the final reward of Mariner’s Falls.
The road up to the Mariner’s Falls car park is sealed for the first nine kilometers and then it’s gravel which can be rough in parts. The road ends at 12 kilometers, where you have the choice of walking or riding the remaining kilometer and a half to Mariner’s Falls. Either way, you will need to ford the river on stepping stones a few times. Make sure your shoes have a good grip. This last section may be impassable after heavy rain.
Mariner’s Falls is a moderately popular destination for Apollo Bay locals and tourists at any time of year, but particularly during holiday periods. If you choose to ride right up to the falls, you will need to take care of walkers on the narrow path.
Apollo Bay is 110 kilometers southwest of Geelong on the Great Ocean Road. The tourist information is in the center of the town on the foreshore opposite the shops. VicRoads Map 519: N4.
Food and Drink
There are a number of excellent cafes and restaurants as well as a hotel in Apollo Bay. Mariner’s Falls, however, is in the middle of the bush where apart from the fresh mountain water there is nothing else.
For those who like hill-climbing, you could head off up the Beech Forrest-Apollo Bay Road that climbs up into the Otways.
This ride commences on the foreshore in Apollo Bay at the tourist information center and heads out of the town beside the Barham River across pasture land toward the mountains. After three kilometers you will cross a bridge over the river and begin to climb gently up the valley beside the river as it flows down from the hills. About midway along the route, you will come to the Barham Park Scenic Reserve where there is a picnic area beside the river and toilets.
Sitting by the river it is possible at certain times of the year to see trout happily swimming around. Continuing on, the road turns to gravel and becomes slightly steeper in parts. Depending on when it was last graded, the road can be gravelly and pot-holed in parts. Eventually, the road descends down and crosses a bridge to end in the car park. From here you can choose to walk or ride the remaining kilometer and a half to the falls. After an initial straight stretch the track fords the river over suitably placed stepping stones.
From here on you are well and truly in the forest with the towering gums and overarching fern branches. After two more river crossings, the track becomes too narrow for riding, but it is only a short distance to the falls. This is a lovely spot to just sit, look and listen to the mesmerizing calm of water falling over rocks. Whilst this walk is most traversed in the warmer months, the falls are at their best after good rainfall; a pretty common occurrence in the Otways. Of course, after heavy deluges, you may not get this far as the river will be impassable.
- 0.0 The ride leaves from the tourist information center car park turning left and heading south on the Great Ocean Rd through the shopping precinct.
- 0.3 Turn right into Moore St.
- 0.4 Cross over Pascoe St.
- 0.7 Turn left into Mc Lachlan St (Barwon Valley Rd).
- 0.9 Cross over Seymour Cres (Nelson St) and continue straight ahead on the road to the right that goes down the hill.
- 3.1 Continue along the road past Conns Lane (Telfords Accs).
- 6.7 Barham Park Picnic Reserve where you will find toilets on the right and picnic areas on the track down to the left beside the river.
- 8.8 The road becomes unmade after this point.
- 11.8 The road ends at the Mariner’s Falls car park on the right after you cross the bridge.
- 12.1 You have come to the first stepping stone crossing. The rocks are firm and are not slippery if your shoes are OK. If you are unable to cross here because the water is too deep, it will only get worse further on, so you will need to go back.
- 12.2 Another river crossing.
- 12.6 Yet another river crossing.
- 12.7 From here on in you will need to walk as there are logs across the track, rock outcrops and the path is very narrow.
- 12.8 The final river crossing before you reach the falls.
- 12.9 You have arrived at Mariner’s Falls; enjoy!
12.955 km / 8.05 mi
295 m / 967 ft
184 m / 604 ft
113 m / 370 ft