Get­ting there

Sunday Mail - Travel/Escape - - OVERLOOKED OTWAYS -

The clos­est air­port is at Avalon, with sev­eral Jetstar flights from var­i­ous cap­i­tal cities. Al­ter­na­tively, Mel­bourne Air­port at Tul­la­ma­rine is about two hours’ drive from Queen­scliff or 21/ hours to For­rest.

Stay­ing there

Tarnd­warn­coort Homestead, 5km from Bir­re­gurra, is a her­itage-listed farm­ing prop­erty in a beau­ti­ful lo­ca­tion. See tarnd­warn­coort.com Num­ber 35 B&B in Point Lons­dale has four large suites. See num­berthir­ty­five.com.au

Do­ing there

See dol­phin­swims.com.au for in­for­ma­tion about cruises on Port Phillip Bay, dol­phin swims and trips to South Chan­nel Fort. See platy­pus­tours.net.au to check out Bruce Jack­son’s Ot­way Eco Tours. The Ot­way Fly is open daily. See ot­wayfly.com.au South­ern Ocean meet­ing the Ot­way Ranges’ V-shaped to­pog­ra­phy.

The north­ern side of the Ot­ways is usu­ally dry, as are the beaches on the south­ern side. In the mid­dle – be­tween For­rest and Gel­li­brand south to Beech For­est and Cape Ot­way it­self – the weather is nor­mally wet.

This un­usual to­pog­ra­phy has blessed the Ot­way Ranges with stun­ning wet scle­ro­phyll rain­for­est. Though log­ging has taken its toll, rem­nant stands of tow­er­ing moun­tain ash in­ter­spersed with Aus­tralian myr­tle beech, ferns and rare flora ex­ist in pock­ets, pro­tected mostly by the Great Ot­way National Park.

The Ot­way Fly opened this decade to help ed­u­cate vis­i­tors about the won­ders of the Ot­way Ranges’ ecol­ogy. Out­side the ham­let of Beech For­est, the Ot­way Fly is open year­round all day. While tread­ing metal board­walks sus­pended at tree canopy height is in­ter­est­ing, I’mtaken by the no­tion of fly­ing through the canopy.

A zip line be­gan op­er­at­ing early last year. Hang­ing from a thin cable, zip­pers speed from tree to tree, stop­ping just long enough to un­hook gear from one zip line to an­other, an ex­hil­a­rat­ing way to get up close and per­sonal with the rain­for­est.

Two guides ac­com­pany 10 zip­pers at all times. Their knowl­edge of Ot­way bio­di­ver­sity is im­pres­sive and I’m charmed by their en­thu­si­asm for the con­tem­po­rary ad­ven­ture travel aspects and the im­pact the an­cient for­est has on us all.

Dur­ing the long­est zip, 120m from tree to tree, I have a flash­back to the pre­vi­ous evening when I was ca­noe­ing on Lake El­iz­a­beth look­ing for a platy­pus – slow pad­dling one day, fast fly­ing the next. No beaches. No crowds, ei­ther. And I’ve be­come used to the con­stant rain. The writer was a guest of Gee­long Ot­way Tourism.

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