Why not take the long way round?
Wander beneath a canopy of Eucalyptus Trees and other Australian natives, right beside giant Soft Tree Ferns along this nice and easy hiking trail from the Sheoak Picnic Area to Sheoak Falls in the Great Otways National Park.
There’s the option of going past Swallow Cave which only adds a hundred metres or (+ return) to the full trail, which is around 3kms each way.
If you’re just wanting to visit Sheoak Falls and not eager on the longer walk, the main Sheoak Falls carpark on the Great Ocean Road is only about 750 metres from the waterfall and it’s still a stunning walk, but lacks the rainforest experience.
Sheoak Picnic Area
Sheoak Creek Crossing
It’s a Grade 3 hiking trail as there are a couple of steep parts to it, although the steep sections are short and this trail is not considered to be challenging.
As the trail is down stream along the Sheoak Creek, there is a steep stair case to take to the base of the waterfall, although it has a hand rail and is completely safe. Just before reaching this staircase, crossing the creek is required. It’s normally a simple and safe objective as there’s a few large stepping stones, but if there’s been a lot of rain prior to your hike, it might not be safe or possible to cross the creek and head down to the waterfall.
It’s around 2.5 kms to get from the Sheoak Picnic Area to creek crossing. From there, it’s another 100 metres or so ahead to get to Swallow Cave or around 500 metres to Sheoak Falls, taking a trail that’s on the other side of the creek (if it’s possible and safe to cross).
There are well maintained and clean facilities at the Sheoak Picnic Area. You’ll also find barbecues, shelters and picnic tables.
Finding the trail
The trail begins from the Sheoak Picnic Area, which is a short drive out the back of Lorne.
When you’re heading along the Great Ocean Road and see the Visitor Information Centre, you need to drive up the hill on the opposite side of the road. There are only a couple of roads leading out of Lorne, you’ll need to take Allenvale Road and just keep driving for about 5 minutes until you reach the well signed picnic area.
There are a heap of different trails leaving the picnic area. Take the the trail to the south-east. If you see signs for Swallow Cave, that’s good as it’s on the way.
Most of the way from the Sheoak Picnic Area all the way to the crossing just near Swallow Cave is quite flat. There is occasional slight bit of elevation and then one hill that makes you work a little bit harder but is still quite easy to walk straight over.
Around 2.5 kms into the walk, you’ll have choice of going straight ahead or crossing the Sheoak Creek to head down to the waterfall. You’ve got to go straight ahead as it’s only a short 100 metres or so to Swallow Cave and the cascades that make up the very first part of Sheoak Falls.
After exploring the cascades (..if it’s safe to do so) and and admiring the birds, head back to the creek crossing and head over to the other side. Keep in mind that it’s only safe to cross the creek if the water level is low enough to completely expose the top of each stepping stone, otherwise it’s way too dangerous as you wouldn’t want to get swept into the current and off the edge of the waterfall.
Once/if you make it over the Sheoak Creek then it’s only another 500 metres or so to the waterfall. You’ll walk along the side of a gorge with a view down to the waterfall, then take a large set of stairs down the base.
From here, it’s either a 750 metre walk further along the track to get to the Great Ocean Road or heading back the way you came from.