A truly charming village and quite possibly the most popular holiday location for people visiting Victoria’s Great Ocean Road is the beautiful town of Lorne:
Lorne is located a short drive from the laid back village of Angelsea and is the first town the Great Ocean Road passes through from where it officially begins. Along the Great Ocean Road from the north of Lorne there are a number of areas to pull over and take pictures of picturesque Lorne tucked in along the steep hillsides of the Great Otway Ranges:
Lorne was originally named Louttit Bay it is believed in 1846 after a sea captain who transported wood that was chopped down off the heavily forested hillsides in the area. It is known that a family moved to Lorne around 1850 because the graves of two children who died when a sand tunnel they built collapsed on them near the mouth of the Erskine River:
More settlers to Lorne arrived in 1853 and some even brought cattle with them. Looking at the rugged, thickly wooded hillsides of Lorne today does not make one immediately think this would be a great place to establish a cattle ranch and predictably the cattle ranch quit operating in the 1860’s. In 1871 the growing seaside village changed its name from Louttit Bay to Lorne. This change was made in honor of the Marquis of Lorne who married a daughter of Queen Victoria in 1870. The city continued to slowly grow and became a prime beach holiday location for visitors from Melbourne when the Great Ocean Road was completed through the town in 1924.
Today Lorne is still a bustling beach holiday town with probably more hotel resorts then the rest of the Great Ocean Road towns combined. As busy as Lorne can be on the weekends it is not what I consider to be overwhelming and the town has a really good vibe to it as well. The town is filled with many great restaurants and specialty shops, but without a doubt its beach is what most people head for first:
I have been to Lorne on three different occasions and each time I have not found the beach overly packed with visitors:
The water is a bit cool though so some of you visiting Melbourne from warmer climates may find swimming ocean undesirable due to the water temperature. If you don’t feel like swimming you can always just continue to tan on the beach like many visitors do or head back to downtown that is literally less then a hundred yards away:
For those that are want to do something other then hang out at the beach there are plenty of hiking trails in the nearby mountains to explore. The first place to check out is Teddy’s Lookout which is a high hill that overlooks Lorne. Here is a view of the hill from the Great Ocean Road just south of Lorne:
Here is the spectacular view from Teddy’s Lookout lookout looking south with a view of the Great Ocean Road as its continues its winding journey south towards Apollo Bay:
Teddy’s Lookout can either be reached by foot or by car. Likewise another popular attraction near Lorne, the Erskine Falls is another area that can be reached on foot or by car. The drive to the falls takes visitors high up into the Great Otway Ranges before the road suddenly steeply drops down into a deep gorge. This gorge will definitely give your vehicle a good brake check.
At the bottom of the gorge is the carpark and it is only a short walk to the view point:
The viewpoint does provide a nice view of Erskine Falls, but to really appreciate the falls it is best to hike down to the bottom of the gorge. The hike down the gorge is a steep one and the trail down the gorge had a plethora of warning signs:
Let’s see the trail has the dangers of slipping, being caught in a flood, trees following on me, and being bitten by snakes; sounds like my kind of trail so I definitely was going to check this out. Going down was of course pretty easy as the trail was well maintained and featured 250 steps. At the bottom of the trail was a sign that described Erskine Falls as being 300 meters above sea level and 88 meters in height:
The view of the falls from the bottom of the gorge is really stunning:
Here is a closer look at the falls:
Erskine Falls is located in a temperate rainforest causing the surrounding foliage to be extremely thick and dense with some of the biggest fern trees I have ever seen:
The temperate rainforest along the Great Otway Ranges has a number of giant mountain ash trees. The mountain ash trees are considered the world’s tallest flowering plant and can grow to over 100 meters in height. Unfortunately the large mountain ash trees near Lorne were either cut down by loggers in prior decades or burned down during the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983 that devastated large areas of the Otways to include the hills outside Lorne. The fire burned 41,200 hectares, destroyed 800 homes in the Otways, and caused the deaths of three people.
Fortunately as can be seen around Erskine Falls the vegetation has completely recovered and no evidence of the Ash Wednesday fire can even be seen today:
After checking out the falls my wife and I began the 250 step climb back up the gorge which was much more difficult then going down obviously. Fortunately we made it back up the gorge without slipping, getting swept away by a flood, having a tree fall on us, or being bit by a snake. I guess we were just lucky. It is actually possible to hike to Erskine Falls all the way from Lorne by following a trail along the Erskine River. Next time I’m in Lorne and I have time, I would love to do this hike sometime.
Overall though, the beauty of the Lorne area is really quite stunning and you don’t have to take my word for it take Rudyard Kipling’s word instead. Kipling visited Lorne in 1891 and was so enchanted with the place he wrote his poem “Flowers” which included the lines, “Gathered where the Erskine leaps, Down the road to Lorne…” My wife and I always look forward to when we can go back down the road to Lorne again ourselves.