Upper and Lower Kalimna Falls, Great Otway National Park

Some things don’t change. Again, I was armed with the Glenn Tempest book, ‘Daywalks Around Melbourne’. Sure you might think I was headed to the Upper and Lower Kalimna Falls in Great Otway National Park, but that location hadn’t even come to mind. I was actually aiming to give a circuit walk called Currawong Falls a go.

Before walking though, I had to get domestic. Remember, a hiker’s life is not all crumpets and coconuts, as I had to get my ironing done before heading out. Besides the outdoors, ironing is important as well. I need crisp threads for work, so it’s an inevitable task, which has to be done at some point.

I thought I’d mix it up a little by doing it in full hiking kit. My leather shoes gave me good traction, as the spray-starch was making the floor a little slippery. Eventually it was done and I then powering down the highway towards the Great Otway National Park.

I made pretty good time and found the starting place at Distillery Creek Picnic Area. If I had any sort of flexibility I would have patted myself on the back for having plenty of hours left in the day to get this walk done without rushing. The most I can stretch though is to the top of my head which I patted a few times.

Mm… hang on. I can see the start of the track, but there appears to be a fence put up in front of it with a notice attached. I wonder what this means? I strolled up and read a notice from Parks Victoria. “The Currawong Falls walk is closed due to burning peat”. I stood there for a moment mildly dumbstruck. Huh??!! Burning  peat? What is this? Russia? There’s been non-stop rain in Victoria for the last few months, so I’m not sure what set the peat off. Is it dangerous? Would I catch on fire?

I sat back in the car and thought of my options. Pretty easy really, as I was holding a book with 100 walks in it. I picked out a short wander of 7 km with double the waterfalls on offer. Upper and Lower Kalimna Falls, Great Otway National Park. Luckily it wasn’t too far away either. Due to the fiasco of the closed track, I now had less time in the day, so the shorter walk would have to do.


Theme of the day? Ferns.

I drove to Sheoak Picnic Area, which is where this walk starts. When arrived, I found the expansive are completely empty. The weather was a bit dodgy with dark clouds going by, so it appeared rain may be on the menu. I wandered over to the start of the track and guess what? Yes, there was a fence in front of it with a sign attached. Yep, yet another Parks Victoria sign. “The Kalimna Falls walk is closed due to flood damage to a bridge and trees down on the track”.

Okay, now this is getting silly. I began to think it was a government conspiracy. I looked up at the sky, put on my angst face and shook my fist a number of times yelling, “How am I ever going to write this stupid blog if all the walks I go to are closed??!!” It was now 2.30 pm and I decided there would be no more driving to alternative walks. I was full of questions. Flood damage? Why don’t the floods put out the burning peat? I began to think nothing could be as bad as what the sign said, and it’s really only there to keep knuckleheads safe.

I pondered for a moment to consider how much of a knucklehead I am. Well, I decided to walk the track and if it was all too scary, I could always come back. I got my stuff together, including the pack but I forgot to put my mandatory Jungle Jellies in. Hopefully I would survive the day without them.

I set off on a wet track lined with tree ferns. It was pleasant walking and I was glad I had my boots on. Some spots were quite muddy and I’d been walking about 38 seconds when a heavy shower of rain hit. I had camera problems as well. Lugging a DSLR, which I didn’t want to get wet, meant I was stopping and starting by putting the camera away and then back out again, as the clouds passed.

On my travels, I spotted a juvenile bird on a branch and took a few photos. I’m not sure what type of bird, other than it has feathers. I need to invest in a bird book I think.


It was peaceful walking with no one around and it wasn’t long before I came to the flood damaged bridge, which was blocked with another fence and sign. Yes, the bridge looked a little wonky, but I considered my options. How about walking around it? This is what I did and it took me about 7 seconds to negotiate. It seemed quite easy.

Now, my first aim after a few kilometres was Lower Kalimna Falls. I quite like a waterfall and I was hoping to get a few good photos. The track branched off and followed Sheoak Creek, until I reached the waterfall.


Lower Kalimna Falls

Even though the waterfall doesn’t have a long drop, it’s a fantastic spot. A pool of water has an amphitheatre of trees and ferns in front, but best of all, there’s an undercut in the rocks, so it’s possible to walk beneath the waterfall and stand behind it.


Standing beneath Lower Kalimna Falls

I spent a good half hour enjoying the secluded spot and took a few photos of the rocks beneath the falls.


Eventually it was time to head off again, so I made my way to the next spot of interest, Upper Kalimna Falls. Actually, were the blokes naming these places short on some ideas? “Mm.. Names…Upper? Lower? That’ll do…”

I’d taken a number of photos with the help of a tripod and according to the map, the next waterfall wasn’t too far away. Not wanting to pack it up and get it out again ten seconds later, I decided to walk with the camera attached to the tripod.

With camera attached, I went full-blown hero style, by placing the tripod across my shoulder, as if I was carrying a mortar tube. Well, it was a great idea until I had to manoeuvre around some trees sticking out into the track. I took the tripod off my shoulder and I don’t think the reader has to be Mr Holmes to work out what happened next. Yep, as I did so, the camera came off the tripod head and I watched as the large black mass, lazily rotated in the air, before landing fair and square on my big toe.

A Canon 7D with lens is 1.30 kilograms and fell from just below my shoulder height. Lucky I was wearing boots and also lucky the camera was okay. I would prefer a broken toe to a broken camera and after dusting it off it appeared okay. I dispensed with my ‘mortar tube’ style of carriage though and other than a bit of mild agony, it appeared my toe was okay.

Now, I was again sloshing through some mud before I came to a very large tree which had fallen down on the track. I thought of the sign at the start of the walk warning me of fallen trees. It made me recall I don’t think I’ve walked on any track in my life, which doesn’t have fallen trees on it? It doesn’t seem to be much of a problem, as there are usually two options. Go around or over. Very technical principles indeed.


I was feeling a bit athletic, so I went for the over approach. It was working well until I got to the main trunk and ended up in an awkward position. My chest was flat against the trunk and my legs spread either side, but in the air and nowhere near the ground. Lucky I did ‘5BX’ as a kid and have always been handy at push ups with hands together. I had to put some effort in with a solid push-up, combined with grunting to get over the tree.

With all the work though I was feeling a bit pumped and was almost tempted to rip my shirt off and go into a pose down complete with a lat flare. I kept my shirt on though and reached a part of the track that branched off towards Upper Kalimna Falls.


Upper Kalimna Falls

The track at this point closed right in and I was pushing through ferns and my nemesis returned. Nettles. They were everywhere and I was again glad to be wearing long pants and a long sleeved shirt. I was cautious not to brush my hands against the annoying weed, like I did the previous week.

In the end I adopted a strange method of walking, where I’d lift my leg up high to either step over them or on top of them altogether. I was getting some serious knee lift going, as if I was stepping over imaginary Swiss Balls.

I continued with this freakish gait until I reached a dead end, which was a lookout for Upper Kalimna Falls. The falls were a short distance away, but were fenced off. The Upper has a bigger drop than the Lower, but didn’t seem as impressive. Where’s the undercut rock?! I had been spoiled at the lower version. As a bonus though, the lookout has some impressive ferns overhead, plus a couple of wooden seats to rest the legs.


I was casually taking pictures when I noticed a little black creature moving across my hand. I knew exactly what it was. A leech. Really, I should have expected them in such a wet, ferny area. I sent him into lower orbit with a power packed flick and now became a little wary. I began to feel imaginary leeches in my hair. After rubbing my hands through my hair a million times I decided to head off.

It was now a walk up a ridge line to a dirt road and then it was back to the car. I had to adopt the super leg lift again until I was away from the nettles. The track then began to climb and was quite open as I climbed the ridge. I noticed plenty of burnt trees in the area and I’m not sure when a fire occurred or maybe it was just a burn off a few years earlier.


I climbed the ridge until I reached Garvey Track and then followed this wide, vehicle track, as rain started to come down. I packed up the camera and headed straight for the car.

Reaching the car, it was still pouring rain, but the picnic area has a number of shelters, so I had a chance to sit down in a dry spot before packing up. I perused the GPS and it told me I’d covered 9.24 km. These day walks are getting shorter all the time! It wasn’t really my fault though, as my intended walk was closed. Just like the one I’d completed.

I was back in the car but I wanted to stop by a lighthouse on the way back, which I’ve never looked at. This is surprising, as I have quite a lighthouse fetish. It’s the Split Point Lighthouse. The weather was a mix of heavy showers and sunshine, which was great for photo opportunities. I was also glad to have a break in the rain, as I was rewarded with a rainbow.


It’s a great spot with some lovely lookouts across the ocean. There were a number of storms out at sea, which glowed under the late afternoon light.


I waited, hoping to catch a nice sunset, but the rain began to sweep in which killed the light. I did get to take a few nice photos though before the rain again began to belt down. It was now a matter of packing up and heading home whilst munching on the Jungle Jellies. It wasn’t what I planned for in the day, but I enjoyed the walk to the waterfalls. Now, if the peat fire goes out on the Russian steppes I will come back to the planned walk at Currawong Falls…


Rising moon above Split Point Lighthouse


Heavy rain = No sunset