Things to do at Lake Elizabeth & Forrest in the Otway Ranges

Lake Elizabeth is a magic place in Great Otway National Park. Surrounded by rainforest, it is a stunning spot whether you are looking for somewhere to camp, a lovely walk or want to do some wildlife spotting.

We have done the walk around the lake, canoed at dawn to see platypus and even seen some glow worms. At the nearby town of Forrest you can grab something to eat, explore on foot and it is near a mountain bike hub.

Here is a quick guide on Lake Elizabeth and why it is worth taking a small detour off the Great Ocean Road to pay it a visit.

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Lake Elizabeth
Lake Elizabeth

Getting to Lake Elizabeth

If you are doing a road trip along the Great Ocean Road, Lake Elizabeth is about 45 minutes from either Apollo Bay or Lorne. If you are near Colac looking around the volcanic lakes and plains, Lake Elizabeth is only 35 – 40 minutes away.

No matter which of these towns you approach from, you will first arrive at Forrest. From there, signs in the town direct you to Kaangland Road. Follow this for approximately 5km then take the signed turn onto Lake Elizabeth Road.

The dirt road into Lake Elizabeth is on the narrow side and not suitable for caravans or camper trailers.

At the end of Lake Elizabeth road is a day use car park and a car park for people using the campground.

Lake Elizabeth Camping
Lake Elizabeth Campground

Camping at Lake Elizabeth

You could not find a prettier forest camping spot than the Lake Elizabeth Campground. Suitable for tent camping only, there is a road that leads to a drop off point where you can unload your gear, there are no sites where you can have your car next to you.

There are about 20 unpowered sites, shared wood BBQs, non-flush toilets and picnic tables. If this is your sort of camping, you will love it here. The birdlife is great, and once day trippers leave it is a peaceful forest setting surrounded by towering eucalypts.

Read more about staying here in our Lake Elizabeth Camping Guide.

Lake Elizabeth Walking Track
Lake Elizabeth Walking Track

Walking to Lake Elizabeth

From the day visitor car park, it is about an 800m walk to Lake Elizabeth. There is an uphill gradient so it could get you puffing if you are striding out. It is a lovely walk that follows the East Barwon River, passes a small billabong then takes you to the shore of Lake Elizabeth. When the lake first comes into view it is a stunning sight.

Lake Elizabeth was created in 1952 after torrential rain caused a landslide that blocked the east arm of the Barwon River. Today when you look at the lake, there are the grey trunks of dead trees sticking up out of the dark water as a reminder of the changed landscape.

Lake Elizabeth Loop Walk

There is a moderately difficult 4km loop walk around the lake. The undulating track stays quite close to the lake, so you get some great views over the water. Lined with tree ferns and with Blackwood and mountain ash trees, it is a really pretty spot. There are seats along the way where you can stop and take in the views.

The track can get a bit muddy in places if there has been rain. We have visited here in fine and cloudy weather, and it is almost better in the gloomy, grey light – it seems to add even more atmosphere to the walk.

Dogs are allowed here on leash. When we walked here in summer we spotted a couple of snakes, so keep you dogs close.

Lake Elizabeth Platypus Tour
Lake Elizabeth

Lake Elizabeth Platypus Spotting

If you are at Lake Elizabeth at dawn or dusk, it is a fantastic spot to see a platypus. Keep an eye out for the telltale V-shaped ripples in the water. You have to be quick; they don’t stay on the surface for long!

The best way to see a platypus is from the water and if you don’t have a canoe, or you don’t want to lug it up from the car park, Otway Eco Tours run guided platypus tours.

We have done the dawn tour, and it was an incredible experience. Not only was it a beautiful time to see the lake, but we saw heaps of platypuses swimming around too.

Read more about our Otway Eco Platypus Tour here to see what to expect.

Lake Elizabeth Fern Lined Walking Track
Lake Elizabeth Fern Lined Walking Track

Look for Glow Worms

Something else to look for as you walk between the carpark and Lake Elizabeth are the local glow worms. The best place to find them is on the rock and dirt banks covered in ferns. You will see some spots like this on your left as you walk from the car park to the lake.

Obviously, it needs to be dark to see the glow worms, but if you let your eyes adjust you will be able to see the tiny threads of glowing beads.

If you shine a torch on them or use a camera flash, the glow will switch off. If you are camping at Lake Elizabeth, or you are there late for a platypus tour, keep an eye out for them.

Terminus Hotel Forrest
Terminus Hotel Forrest
Forrest Holiday Park BBQ
Forrest Brewery
Forrest Brewing Company

Things to do in Forrest

Forrest is the closest town to Lake Elizabeth. If you are doing the Otway Eco Tour, you will meet here. There is a nice general store which has a range of bakery-style snacks and other supplies.

The busiest place in town whenever we go through is Forrest Brewing. There is indoor and outdoor seating. Their beer is great, they do nice burgers, roasts and share boards too. They are open Friday and Saturday 9am – 8pm and Sunday and Monday 9am – 5pm.

There is also a well signed history trail with 24 sites that covers about 2km and following it is a fun way to explore the town. The walk starts on the main street.

If you want to do a longer walk, you can follow the Tiger Rail Trail which traces the route of the old Forrest Railway. The track starts opposite the Terminus Hotel and goes for approx. 4.5km until it intersects Birregurra-Forrest Road. You can then have someone collect you, return the way you came or do the longer loop trail back to Forrest.

You can stay in Forrest at Forrest Holiday Park.

Forrest Bike Skills Park
Forrest Bike Skills Park

Mountain Bike Riding

If you enjoy getting around on two wheels, make sure you bring your mountain bike to Forrest and Lake Elizabeth. There is a network of different level tracks just north and south of Forrest.

The Forrest Southern Trailhead is only 500m from the centre of Forrest. There is also a skills park there. Northern Forrest Yaugher Trailhead is 2.5km from Forrest.

There is a track that links Forrest and Lake Elizabeth. The 6km Barlidjaru Trail starts at the southern Trailhead and goes up to the carpark at Lake Elizabeth. You can return on the Red Carpet Trail to Forrest.

If you don’t have a bike, you can hire one from Forrest MTB Hire.

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Lake Elizabeth Otways
Lake Elizabeth Otways
Lake Elizabeth Otways
Lake Elizabeth Otways
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