Lake Elizabeth – A Wonderful Refuge from the Heat

With the recent abundance of warm days, I had quite the hankering for a nice cool forested walk. Seeing as though I was heading out to the Geelong region a couple of weeks ago, I thought it’d be the perfect time to finally visit the serene Lake Elizabeth located within the Great Otway Ranges.

With an abundance of tree cover, rainfall and distinct tree trunks embedded within the lake itself, this was the perfect trek for those who wish to retreat into a verdant refuge during some of those hotter days!

Why Lake Elizabeth?

One of the major factors that drew me to lake Elizabeth was the fact that it was almost entirely formed due to landslides within and around the area. This certainly made for a unique landscape – with the lake seemingly melding with the surrounding trails, contrasted with the western portion that saw little to no mudslides.

A view from the banks of lake Elizabeth – showcasing the protruding tree trunks.

The lake’s circuit trail is approximately 4.7 km in length, however, the opening track to the lake is just over a kilometre, so trekkers have some flexibility if they are pushed for time (or can’t be bothered walking all the way around!).

As you’ll soon see though, walking the whole 4.7km at some point is certainly a must as there’s a lot to enjoy from all sides of the lake.

Setting out:

I started my trek from the very convenient Lake Elizabeth campground’s parking and rest area, soon heading due east to begin along the titular walking track.

Although the weather of the day wasn’t too oppressive, I still recall vividly how tranquil and fresh the trail was even at 25 degrees or so. It’s certainly remarkable how much moisture the Otway’s retain during summer – much like portions of Gippsland!

A litany of verdant ferns heralded my entrance to Lake Elizabeth’s cooling track.

It’d been a while since I’d enjoyed the refreshing serenity of Victoria’s rainforests, so I was glad to remerge myself in the Otways after so long. Although a fan of both the rugged Aussie bush and glistening coast, I’d be lying if I said rainforests weren’t my favourite.

The cool atmospheric moisture, coupled with the abundance of overhead tree cover, makes such environments perfect for those who aren’t too keen on the harsh Australian sun (sounds like me!).

Another great feature of Lake Elizabeth in particular is that the lake itself is supplied by the Barwon river, which actually runs along the approaching track. This certainly makes the walk down particularly special.

The opening portion of the river was quite wide and relatively brisk, providing a beautiful backdrop to your trek down towards the main attraction.

A perspective shot of the opening river stretch – the rich grass showing just how cool and wet the area often is.

This particular image is also perfectly demonstrative of the surprising moisture content within the Otway Ranges, even right out of summer during the early autumn!

As you continue along, the river constricts and expands again and again. I was a particular fan of some of the tighter stretches, as these were often littered with more beautiful flora and greater stoned detail within the riverbed.

There were so many spots that I stopped to have a meditational rest at, I’d highly recommend stopping by for a snack or a spot of bird watching!

One of my favourite portions of the river approach – a tranquil stream providing the perfect spot for a relaxed picnic!

The litany of beautiful ferns:

Another splendid constant along this particular track is the absolute abundance of ferns, you’d be forgiven for mistaking that you were up in Queensland’s Daintree, or even New Zealand!

You could certainly spend half your trek just gazing at the intricate beauty of these bad boys, but I promise you, it gets even more enchanting the further you go.

I reckon it took me about 25 minutes or so until I reached the lake itself, and it was certainly a sight to see.

A verdant window onto Lake Elizabeth.

Although not overwhelmingly grand or expansive, the beauty I found within Lake Elizabeth was more from the angle of its reclusive collectedness. When I emerged out from the approaching track, I wasn’t met with the cacophony of rushing water, or the voices of other trekkers. Instead, there was simply the tranquil sounds of the passing wind, the elegant waltzing of the grass, and the soft whispering of nearby birds.

Sometimes life can just get too loud. But here, for as long as you wished, everything was calm and at peace with itself. I enjoyed that greatly.

A view from the kayak dock situated along the trail.

As you can see above, I also noticed there was a ramp for those who wish to kayak/canoe on the lake.
I will certainly be returning with my kayak when I can – if relaxing on the banks was as satisfying as it was, I’d wager doing so within the lake itself would be nothing less than bliss.

Also make sure to spy those tree trunks protruding from the lake, they certainly create a mood of stillness, as well as giving away the lake’s origins!

From there on out, you can either turn back, or continue around the lake. I did the latter and was very pleased to wander for about another 40 minutes or so amongst the ferns and the hidden birds.

Final Thoughts:

After that, I went home, refreshed, relaxed and ready to return to my louder life!

All in all, Lake Elizabeth is a hidden gem of the Otways that I couldn’t recommend more.

It’s serenity, coolness and unique qualities make it a must see for casual walkers and more experienced trekkers alike.

For further information on the walk and the surrounding region, Park’s Victoria’s page on it is a great start:

If adventuring out into our beautiful countryside is something that appeals to you, by all means feel free to check out for more insightful recollections of trips along Victoria’s abundance of trails and hikes!

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