Otway Ranges, south western Victoria

Otway Ranges, south western Victoria, Australia

The Otway Ranges. The quiet, the stillness. Water. Running water. In the creeks. Down little - and big! waterfalls. Rain! Weeaproinah in the Otways is the wettest place in Victoria.

Aussie Stories - telling about Australia in words and pictures

Joe Mortelliti's life long love, from when he was first given a Brownie camera as a boy, was photography. It was the focus of his work life for many years. He loved to travel with his wife Marion to as many parts of Australia as he could. He had the ability to 'see' the beauty of our land in such a way that he could photograph it for the delight of others. These photos are a legacy that he has left us. Used by permission and with appreciation.
Aussie Stories - telling about Australia in words and pictures

Red toadstools, near Hopetoun Falls, Otways Forest, Victoria, Australia
Red toadstools, near Hopetoun Falls, Otways Forest, Victoria, Australia. My wife Marion spotted these along the roadside from the car as we headed for Hopetoun Falls. We went back and forth looking for a grouping that looked attractive and we nearly gave up, but then decided to head down an adjoining track. A little way in brought us to this shot. Of all our shots, people seem always to get excited about the red fungi. April 2003.

Copyright © Joe Mortelliti Photography

You have to look carefully to see the leprechauns! :)

The toadstool's scientific name is Amanita muscaria, or 'Fly Agaric', a well-known introduced species usually found among deciduous and pine trees, but also now in eucalypt forests. They have white gills, white spore print, bright red cap with white flecks, white stem with a pronounced ring, and a broadened base of stem. They are poisonous and psychoactive, although some reckon you can eat them if you cook them carefully and the right way.

More info on this and other fungi at Bill Leithhead's Web Site.

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Big Hill Track, Otways Forest, Victoria, Australia
Big Hill Track, Otways Forest, Victoria, Australia. This track travels through a section of the Otways in Victoria. It is subject to seasonal closure, and is in such good condition that you do not need a 4wd to travel it. The rough appearance on the trunks of these group of trees deep in the forest caught my eye. While taking this picture in this isolated area I experienced … quiet and stillness, apart from the sounds of the forest. April 2004.

Copyright © Joe Mortelliti Photography

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Aire Crossing, Otways Forest, Victoria, Australia
Aire Crossing, Otways Forest, Victoria, Australia. At top of the range you head down Wait a While Road, while looking at the ocean above the ranges as this is a very high vantage point. Further deep down in the valley is the Aire River and this wonderful log crossing. Recent rains had swollen the river and it was running swiftly. Nearby are bush camp areas amongst the tree ferns. June 2004.

Copyright © Joe Mortelliti Photography

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A billabong, along the walking track to Lake Elizabeth, near Forrest, Otways Forest, Victoria, Australia
A billabong, along the walking track to Lake Elizabeth, near Forrest, Otways Forest, Victoria, Australia. This peaceful spot is found on the walk track to Lake Elizabeth. February 2003.

Copyright © Joe Mortelliti Photography

Lake Elizabeth is about a 1 kilometre walk from the car park. Some parts are steep, but the path is well made. This billabong is about halfway, and there is a well placed park bench to have a rest.

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Lake Elizabeth, near Forrest, Otways Forest, Victoria, Australia
Lake Elizabeth, near Forrest, Otways Forest, Victoria, Australia. Near Forrest, the fern walk to Lake Elizabeth is one of the best to be seen. Arriving at the Lake, an eerie atmosphere of dead tree trunks reflecting in very still water, makes a striking scene. March 2005.

Copyright © Joe Mortelliti Photography

In June 1952 a massive landslip dammed the course of the East Barwon River, causing the formation of what is now known as Lake Elizabeth. For some months the river was dry, to the perplexity of the locals, but in about August 1952 it started to flow again as the water had risen above the landslip. A couple of years later after some very heavy rains the top 20 metres or so of the landslip gave way and a wall of water complete with boulders and gravel went thundering downstream, threatening some local towns with flooding.

Lake Elizabeth today is a tranquil place with delightful walks and seating. It is about a 1 kilometre walk from the car park and camping grounds to the Lake, with a further 5 kilometres of walks around the Lake.

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Erskine Falls, near Lorne, Otways Forest, Victoria, Australia
Erskine Falls, near Lorne, Otways Forest, Victoria, Australia. Located near Lorne. The flow at these Falls has considerably reduced due to the drought of the last several years. March 2003.

Copyright © Joe Mortelliti Photography

I have visited Erskine Falls numerous times. It's a steep walk down to the base of the Falls, with a lookout near the top as well. If I counted correctly, there are 315 stairs on the pathway down to the falls, and 315 on the way up, too! You'll know you've been out for a walk by the time you get back. It is good that there are seats provided at several spots along the way because the climb is quite steep. I might suggest also that more seating on or near the viewing platform at the base of the Falls would be very useful.

The water level on Erskine Falls is much better this year - 2013 - than it was when the pic was taken ten years ago. The drought has broken!

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Erskine Falls, near Lorne, Otways Forest, Victoria, Australia
Erskine Falls, near Lorne, Otways Forest, Victoria, Australia. Erskine falls ten years later. Significantly more water flow, a fallen tree across the falls, and otherwise much the same. What you can't see in the picture is the viewing platform that has been built since 2003. June 2013.

Copyright © Jessica Prins.

Scorched Otways, near Anglesea, Otways Forest, Victoria, Australia
Scorched Otways, near Anglesea, Otways Forest, Victoria, Australia. The damage done by recent fires to this area of the Otways near Anglesea took our eye. The contrast of black, blue and burnt orange totally transforming how the area normally looked. June 2003.

Copyright © Joe Mortelliti Photography

For a discussion on the causes of bushfires and how we can limit their dangers, read Bushfire!.

More info on bushfires in Victoria at State Library of Victoria.

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Autumn rain, at Forrest, Otways Forest, Victoria, Australia
Autumn rain, at Forrest, Otways Forest, Victoria, Australia. Autumn rains soften a rural landscape near Forrest. March 2005

Copyright © Joe Mortelliti Photography

Forrest is a small town in the Otways, with a population in 2006 of 170, that was established in 1891. The football team that was established that year is still going strong now, more than 120 years later. The railway didn't do so well, closing in 1957 after also being established in 1891.

The West Barwon River runs through the town and the West Barwon Dam, which is a main water supply for Geelong, is a few kilometres south of Forrest on the road to Skene's Creek and Apollo Bay.

Forrest is attracting attention as an alternative holiday place as house and land prices in the coastal towns such as Apollo Bay, Kennett River and Lorne climb ever higher.

More info on Forrest at Wikipedia

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Aire River, near Cape Otway, Otways Forest, Victoria, Australia
Aire River, near Cape Otway, Otways Forest, Victoria, Australia. We camped by the river which is accessed via Hordern Vale in the Parks Victoria camp ground, known as Aire River East. This is another spectacular scenic area of the Otway region. The bridge is close to being rebuilt after being hit by lightning and catching fire. The bridge links Aire River East and Aire River West camp grounds. April 2005.

Copyright © Joe Mortelliti Photography

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Farm, between Apollo Bay and White Hawk, Otways Forest, Victoria, Australia
Farm, between Apollo Bay and White Hawk, Otways Forest, Victoria, Australia. Dramatic hills between Apollo Bay and White Hawk.

This shot was taken standing on what was the original dirt Great Ocean Road that twisted through this area perched very high on these hills without guard rails. Locals recall a number of deaths from cars going over the edge along this section. The road was so narrow that when vehicles approached each other they would often both come to a stop and carefully “shuffle” past each other.

The road was re-aligned by the Country Roads Board in the early 1970s to provided ready access to the area of the Twelve Apostles and the Port Campbell National Park. February 2003.

Copyright © Joe Mortelliti Photography

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