In the early 1800s, the 90-kilometer gap between Cape Otway and King Island proved deadly for at least 18 ships that were wrecked near the western entrance to Bass Strait. After more than 350 lives were lost when the Cataraqui founded on the reef off King Island in 1845, a string of lighthouses across the Bass Strait was demanded by the angry public of the fledgling settlement of New South Wales. Cape Otway was a favored site and the Cape Otway lighthouse station is the destination for this forest ride.
The route is on a coastal mountain road. The road is sealed, but has no shoulder and is narrow in parts. You’ll be descending in with a good climb out. Rainfall is frequent in this part of Victoria and at the lighthouse, it’s very exposed to the Bass Strait gales if the weather is bad.
There can still be a bit of tourist traffic heading for the lighthouse, particularly during holiday periods.
Cape Otway is 30 kilometers from Apollo Bay, which is 110 kilometers from Geelong via the Princes Highway and the Great Ocean Road through Anglesea and Lorne. The turn off to the lighthouse along Otway Lighthouse Road is approximately 22 kilometers from Apollo Bay on the Great Ocean Road.
Food and Drink
The lighthouse at Cape Otway has a shop and cafe, but there is a $16 entrance fee to get there. You’ll also find a shop at the Cape Otway Caravan Park, which is just past the turnoff to Blanket Bay. Otherwise, stock up in Apollo Bay.
See Cape Otway, Blanket Bay Ride. This is a challenging dirt road ride and much more skill and endurance is required.
It took La Trobe a whole year, after two failed attempts, to penetrate the forests and gullies of the Otways to reach the cape and the site for this lighthouse. As you drive and ride through Otway National Park you will quickly realize why. However, the road through to the cape lighthouse is now a scenic ride through tall timber and manna gum forested farmland to spectacular views from soaring cliffs over Bass Strait.
You could do this in a car, but by bike, you really absorb this beautiful place. The start of this ride is the same as Cape Otway, Blanket Bay Ride at the Great Ocean Road – Otway Lighthouse Road junction in the middle of the Otway National Park. After leaving your vehicle on the side of the road, the ride climbs up for three kilometers, and then it’s just about all downhill until you reach the lighthouse station car park.
Once through the towering gums, the road comes out into pretty wooded farmland that covers the less hilly parts of the landscape. The road is straight in parts but has windy sections where care should be taken. You will soon come to the turnoff to the Cape Otway Caravan Park, otherwise known as Bimbi Park. It is one kilometer from the road along a gravel track. It’s a good place to stay with cabins, vans, and camping sites set in sheltered woodland.
There are short walks to the beaches and rocky headlands and the park has horse riding. Soon after you will see the ocean on the horizon through the trees and as the road descends it opens up into scrubby coastal heath and pasture land with the ocean filling the horizon. From here the ride follows the coast for about two kilometers before you arrive at the lighthouse. There is much to see at the oldest, surviving lighthouse in mainland Australia including the restored light station facilities. Climb the lighthouse and perhaps spot some whales off the coast. You can even stay in the heritage accommodation.
- 0.0 The ride commences on the side of the road at the Cape Otway turn off.
- 6.6 This is the turnoff to the Cape Otway Caravan Park (Bimbi Park), which is 1km down the gravel road.
- 7.2 The turn off to Blanket Bay is on the left as you sweep round the corner.
- 11.1 You arrive in the car park to the lighthouse station where you will find a souvenir shop and the entrance to the park. The café within the park is about 200m inside.
11.131 km / 6.916 mi
73 m / 239 ft
192 m / 630 ft
204 m / 671 ft