The fairytale forest deep in the Otways.
Every now and then we all need some time out from working in the city or the responsibilities of adult life. As children we could sometimes dream our worries away by entering a magic forest in our imagination, surrounded by colourful mushrooms, tiny fairies and giant trees.
At the Redwoods, you can enter that fairytale forest, whether you are seven or seventy. Right in the middle of the Great Otway National Park, a grove of Californian Redwoods is flourishing in Victorian soil, far from home.
The Redwoods are in Beech Forest, deep in the Great Otway National Park. The park is 200kms from Melbourne’s CBD, and it takes around 2.5 hours to drive there.
Just getting to the forest is a magical experience in itself. Passing Apollo Bay on the Great Ocean Road, follow the sign and turn onto Binns Road, then follow the signs to the Redwoods.
The lush rainforest invites you to stop, take a break, and slow down. Wind down your window, breathe in the fresh, clean rainforest air and enjoy the slow, windy drive. Just note this is a slow and windy dirt road and not suitable for caravans or larger vehicles. Always drive slow around corners in case there is another car (or during the week, you may even pass a logging truck from a nearby plantation). Be safe, go slow. Remember you share this road with the wildlife who live here too.
After planting the trees, they were apparently slow to start growing. Over 85 years later, however, they have thrived in the conditions of the Otways and are now more than 60 metres tall. The Redwoods here have never been used as plantation trees, and have never been cut. Forestry experts believe that they could grow to almost twice their current height over the next 70 years!
If that happened, they could eventually outgrow the remarkable redwoods in California, which would make them among the tallest trees in the world! Currently, the world record holder is the Hyperion, a redwood from California over 115 metres tall.
If you’re wondering how the forest of Redwoods got here – read on!
This Redwoods plantation was initially planted by Victorian foresters in 1936 as an experiment. The world’s tallest tree species come from the cypress family that these redwoods belong to. Alongside the Aire River, their oversized trunks take your breath away – and they are still growing!
This is a place to slow down. Go for a stroll and stop for a picnic.
When you see the trees for the first time (or second, or third!), you will be in awe of the sheer height of them and the magic of the forest that quickly envelopes you the deeper you go. It is a beautiful reminder of the power of nature and the environment, and how small the human footprint can and should be.
The experience is not just about the trees; the forest is full of birds and fungi that all add to the magical experience. This is a fantastic place for a short stroll with the family along the banks of the Aire River and through the forest, to explore a different side of Australia’s flora and fauna. The kids will love playing hide and seek amongst the trees.
Can you picnic at the Redwoods? The answer is absolutely, yes! Come prepared to make the most of this unique experience and spend a little more time here.
Grab some local produce from the Forrest General Store in the nearby town on your way to the Redwoods, spread out your picnic blanket and lie beneath the massive trees along the banks of the Aire River, or grab one of the picnic tables. It is a completely different perspective from which to see the world, with the forest surrounding, protecting and sheltering you.
With the carpark directly above some scattered picnic tables and a toilet across the road, it’s the perfect spot to stop and take it all in. Unfortunately dogs are not allowed.
Waterfalls galore! While you’ve got your walking shoes on, don’t miss Beauchamp Falls, a stunning waterfall plunging down 25 metres. Only a 15-minute drive from The Redwoods, it can be accessed on a 3km hike, taking about 1.25 hours and well worth every step.
Hopetoun Falls is another must-visit nearby. Just a few kilometres north of the Redwoods on Binns Road, this magnificent waterfall drops 30 metres down into the Aire River. It is easy to reach via a short trek through tree ferns from the car park. Waterfalls in this region flow all year round but are at their most spectacular in winter and you might even get them all to yourself!
For some coastal vibes Apollo Bay or the Otway Coast Hamlets are you go-to, Wye River and Kennet River. Or visit the buzzing little town of Forrest to make the most of the epic mountain bike trails, then after stop for lunch and a local brew at Forrest Brewing Company. Stay the night in one of the many gorgeous accommodation options to really make the most of this Otways experience.
The region near the Redwoods has an incredible amount to see and do, enough to easily fill a couple of days or more.
For a bit of a thrill to break up the hiking and exploring time, head to Otway Fly Treetop Adventures, only 20 minutes from the Redwoods. It’s a fantastic place to learn about the natural environment. Whether zip-lining or wandering along the 600 metre-long, 30 metre-high elevated walkway high up in the treetops, this is an innovative and exciting way to explore.
For some more ideas for what to do with the family, take a look at our Apollo Bay & Otways with Kids blog.
The Redwoods, one of Victoria’s best-kept secrets, are about 200 kilometres away from Melbourne, in the heart of the Great Otway National Park. Take some time out and bring yourself back to nature. Fresh air and absolute tranquillity will greet you when you turn off the main road and will stay with you long after you arrive back home.
Let the friendly locals share what they have on their incredible doorstep with you when you take a break in one of the nearby towns. Plan your next getaway to the Otways and to find even more places to explore, you can chat to the Visitor Information Centre team.
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Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Great Ocean Road region the Wadawurrung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging. We recognise and respect their unique cultural heritage and the connection to their traditional lands. We commit to building genuine and lasting partnerships that recognise, embrace and support the spirit of reconciliation, working towards self-determination, equity of outcomes and an equal voice for Australia’s first people.