A city girl moved to the country. A Diploma in Horticulture (Parks and Gardens), a Diploma in Fashion Design (pattern making), a degree in Communication (Journalism)...the perpetual student of life
Published September 21st 2014
A short side trip
A reference to the ancient volcanic activity of the Western Plains of Victoria is plainly visible in the geographic formation that is the Hopkins Falls. One of the widest waterfalls in Australia, at 90metres wide, the Hopkins Falls are worth a short side trip on any drive through the area.
The Hopkins Falls are on a section of the Hopkins River, named in 1836 by Major Thomas Mitchell after his friend Sir John Paul Hopkins, which runs through dairy farming country just 13 kilometers Northeast of Warrnambool and just off the Princes Highway.
The short 11km drive from the highway to the falls is quite well signposted and it doesn't take long to reach the well maintained parking area. The lookout area has a couple of great viewing spots complete with camera supports to get that perfect picture, but the best spot is a short walk down an easy track to get a view across the river to the base of the falls.
Very informative signs give the visitor a great deal of information about the wildlife in the area, including information about the river's elusive inhabitant, the Platypus. If you were extremely lucky you might even get to see one rummaging around the river bank for food, but don't be disappointed if you don't as they are very hard to spot!
What seems like a quiet river meandering its way to sea is actually a hotbed of activity at some stages of the year as the Hopkins River also plays a part in the reproductive cycle of the Short Finned Eel.
The Eels are spawned in the Coral Sea off Queensland then make their way eventually down the coast to river estuaries including the Hopkins River Estuary at Warrnambool. They then start swimming upstream to become adults; the Hopkins Falls presents a bit of an obstacle to their travels, but the intrepid Eel youngsters can crawl overland to bypass them.
Once the adult Eels reach their reproductive age, they leave their homes in more northern reaches of the Hopkins River and its tributaries and head back downstream and out into the ocean to start the cycle once again.
At my first visit the water flow over the 11 meter drop was limited due to the drought conditions of the time, but the next time I went the flow was much more impressive as there had been rain storms over the previous days.
Added bonuses at the car park are well maintained toilet facilities and picnic areas set amongst gardens nicely landscaped with local flora.
The Hopkins Falls are an interesting example of the way the area around Warrnambool had been for time immemorial, a place where Aboriginal people gathered and fished and hunted. Today the Hopkins Falls are a great place to visit and to witness the beauty of water cascading over rock formations.