Well, a nice trip for firsts (or near enough…) – a slightly lost Eucalyptus Regnans (tallest flowering plant in the world) down in Frog Flats, a couple of adventurous guests and a virgin guide down to the ‘real’ KO Falls (don’t believe everything Chapman says…), a sneaky swim in the gorge at the base of D’Alton Falls (best swimming hole on the OT?) and a fellow guide from the Great Ocean Road Walk in Vicco and a 62yo Pom in an arvo jaunt up the Gatepost.
Unfortunately, I was walking with a highly unsuitable SMC Pentax-M 50/f1.4 short-tele prime, so I captured almost none of it 🙂
Here’s some tips if you want something a bit extra out of your OT adventure…
– The Gatepost – About 7mins past the Du Cane Gap high-point (heading south) there will be a big area of pineapple grass to the left of the track. Through this you will find a faint pad, follow this into the paperbarks and it becomes more defined and heads straight up the hill. Beware as there’s a few sections where fallen trees have caused false-leads to open up. Also, there’s a few sections where it will reach steep rock faces – false-leads have opened up as people try to go around, but the actual track heads straight up. It’s an easy enough to follow but it would be best if you’re used to following pads (rather than marked tracks) and a degree of fitness and comfort with heights is required. If you’ve struggled with the Overland to this point it’s probably not for you… Expect roughly 1.5hrs return from the OT.
– D’Alton Falls swimming hole – Instead of turning right (upstream) to the normal viewing ledge, continue left (downstream) for about 20m until you find a very steep gully leading downwards. Climb down until you find yourself in a broad gorge at river level. Downstream the gorge narrows into an impressive slot-canyon of sorts with a cool chockstone. If you want to swim, walk upstream as far as you can and then swim the last section till you find the deep hole at the base of the falls. Disclaimer: to get down here is exceptionally steep and slippery and you essentially have to hang off tree-roots to make the climb. Once you get down the bottom the mudstone rocks are also very slippery and it would be very easy to fall into the gorge (next stop Boulder Falls…). The swimming hole itself is only useable at low water. ATTEMPT AT OWN RISK!
– Kia Ora Falls – There is no track to KO Falls. To get there from the KO National Parks Hut, follow the Overland Track south for a few minutes till you get to KO Creek. Head off the track and into the scrub, following the western bank. From here it is essentially a 1km scrub-bash through thick tea-tree, buttongrass and eucalyptus. There is the odd pad, but if you can’t find it (you probably won’t) just stay close to the creek. There are two reasonably sized falls and a bunch of cascades on the way down, but the ‘real’ KO Falls has about a 10m drop into a myrtle beech filled depression – you’ll know it when you see it. The picture labelled ‘Kia Ora Falls’ in Chapmans OT guidebook is NOT Kia Ora Falls – it’s one of the smaller ones upstream. To view the falls once you get down there you’ll need to get to the bottom. To do this, descend very steeply down the embankment – this last part is by far the hardest and most dangerous of the walk. Very impressive when flooding! Disclaimer: There is NO TRACK TO KO FALLS! It’s not too hard to follow the creek, but this should only be attempted by people comfortable with off-track navigation.Wear gators.