VIC2021: The Walks – Cumberland River

It was with great expectations of a couple of good walks that we set out for a two night stay in a Lorne hotel that had been booked a year previously, but had been postponed twice due to Covid 19. Arriving on a wet and rainy Saturday afternoon, we planned our 8.6km circuit walk for the next day that would take in three waterfalls. However, our plans unravelled very quickly when we arrived at the setting off point, Allenvale Mill Car Park.

The planned walk would have taken us to the Phantom Falls, through The Canyon to the Won Wondah and Henderson Falls before returning to the car park. Our sighting of about dozen Parks Victoria Fire Management trucks parked in front of the hotel should have given us a clue that it was not to be.

Yes, they were in the process of some prescribed burning which so happened to be in the area of our walk, hence it being closed to the public. Undaunted we tried a couple of other track access points which were likewise closed before we reached one that was thankfully open – the track to Cumberland Falls at the Cumberland River Reserve. By this time the priority was morning tea before setting off between the campground to the west and the cliff face to the east. Following the river all the way to the falls, the track offered a wide variety of conditions from hard packed soil (which presumably gets muddy after heavy sustained rain), to mixed soil and rocks to rocks on their own and a few river crossings thrown in. Our walking poles came in very handy, especially for the river crossings.

The cascades at Jebb’s Pool

The walk was very easy to Jebb’s Pool, a handy cooling off spot, if you are inclined to venture into the water. This was the first of four river crossings, all of which had handy stepping stones, and the start of a more challenging track. At times we were clambering over and up rocks. By keeping a necessary eye on the track and rocks, it would have been easy to miss the spectacular cliff faces by keeping you head down, so we took the time to pause now and again to soak it all in.

One of the river crossings

The scenery on the way up the river was more than compensation for the disappointment when we reached the waterfall – we looked at each other and simultaneously said: ‘Is this it?’ It is probably one of the least appealing waterfalls we have visited. None the less, we sat on a large rock and had lunch in preparation for the clamber back down to the cascades at Jebb’s Pool, which, I think, are just as interesting as the waterfall.

The walk distance is 6km return with an estimated duration of 2.5 to 3 hours, longer than average due to the care required on the rocks and river crossings. It took us 3 hours.

This walk was accurately summed up by my partner – ‘it is all about the journey, not the destination’.

As an aside, the car park is adjacent to the entrance to the Cumberland River Holiday Park and has the capacity to hold 20- 30 cars. However, there are no public toilets – strange since it is also set up with picnic tables to welcome the passing Great Ocean Road traveller.

For more photographs: Cumberland River

A great resource for the walks around Lorne can be downloaded from here