Watch in wonder as the Great Ocean Road region becomes awash with the vivid colours and outlandish shapes of Victoria's native wildflowers. Spring is the best time to see wildflowers throughout the area, although many plants do flower throughout the year.
Along the coast
Admire native wildflowers along the Surf Coast Walk, which runs from Torquay to Aireys Inlet and traverses the coastal heathlands surrounding Anglesea. Spot banksias, parrot peas and orchids on your travels. Take the Benwerrin Nature Walk at Mount Richmond, which is an extinct volcano surrounded by low, flat land. Forest, open heath and scattered swamps cover the park, and the area is noted for its spring wildflowers.
Visit the Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve to see a wide array of native flora and fauna and take a walk through the heathland of the Bay of Islands Coastal Park in springtime to see colourful wildflowers in bloom. Further along the coast, follow the Glenelg River to see common and flame heaths, proteas, boronias and orchids en route to the Princess Margaret Rose Cave.
Early settlers cleared much of the land in The Otways, but extensive forest still does remain. Not far inland, rainforests and mountain ash trees contrast with coastal heathlands and open woodlands. Towering Myrtle Beech trees and their under-storey of dense tree ferns can be seen on the Maits Rest walk and at Melba Gully.
Steep slopes combine with rich volcanic soils in this part of The Otways to produce forests filled with ferns, shrubs and tall eucalypts. Rainfall brings fast streams, waterfall cascades and rapids. South of the main Otways ridge, the most common trees are messmate stringybark, blue gum, mountain grey gum and manna gum.
Wander through Melba Gully to find glow worms and large trees such as Myrtle Beech and Blackwood. Many of the plants grow on trees here, including Kangaroo Fern, Weeping Spleenwort and Shiny Shield-fern. However, these plants are epiphytes not parasites, and they survive on decaying leaves and bark.
Hard Water-fern and Mother Shield-fern cover much of the forest floor, and more than 33 species of fern can be found across the park. Higher up, the vegetation is exposed to more sunlight and drying winds and is quite different from the flora in the gullies. Here, Young Otway Messmates can be found dispersed among Hazel Pomaderris, Musk Daisy-bush, Christmas Bush and Satin Box.
Melba Gully is located just one and a half kilometres off the Great Ocean Road and three kilometres west of Lavers Hill. The access road is narrow and steep in places, but quite suitable for conventional vehicles.