I'm a newbie to Melbourne. I'm enjoying finding all that the city has to offer and will be sharing more of my exploits here.
Published April 9th 2014
Lake Elizabeth is situated in the depths of the Otways on the River Barwon. We stopped by on the way back from the Great Ocean Road to hunt for that most elusive of creatures - the Australian Platypus.
The Lake is signposted from the nearby town of Forrest and very easy to find which is lucky as our SATNAV was attempting to convince us the road we were driving on didn't exist. There is free parking and helpful signs pointing the way down some stairs and left for the toilets or right for the track to the lake itself. Beware - there is no drinking water in the forest and the toilets are of the composting variety.
There are several options when it comes to walking around the lake and this makes it easy to do as much or as little as you like. You can do anything from a short hour walk to the lake and back to walking a 3.5Km loop of the whole thing. Either way you will be surrounded by towering trees and beautiful ferns.
Our first stop was the start of Lake Elizabeth itself. Here there are some wooden platforms with benches where you can stake out the joint for any web-footed mammals. We sat here for an hour or so enjoying a, very hushed, picnic with eyes moving quickly from sandwich to lake. It turns out that the best time to spot platypi is at dawn or dusk after heavy rainfall so we were against the odds arriving at lunch time on a hot sunny day. Eventually, we spotted a motion by the side of the lake and a dark shadow moved just under the surface. We were rewarded with a fleeting glimpse as the critter stuck its head above water before diving away and disappearing from view. We were pretty far away but it was definitely a platypus...at least, that's what we told ourselves.
The walk down to the lake is described as moderate to steep. It can be uneven with debris from the trees and bushes but generally it was a fun and accessible walk. We chose to go as far as the 'beach' from where we could get a different view of the lake and the mystical white trees that rise from its inky depths whilst soaking up some mid-afternoon sun.
This is a great way to pass an afternoon and a good excuse to get out of the car and stretch your legs on the way back from driving along the Great Ocean Road. You can also camp here overnight which would make it easier to catch platypi at dawn or dusk. The Parks Victoria website has more information about camping if you are interested - they state that there are 15 sites available on a first come, first served basis. All this, plus the excitement of spotting a platypus in the wild.
Our family recently hiked in Lake Elizabeth over the April school holidays and besides spotting the platypus swimming in the peaceful lake faraway, we were rewarded with seeing a koala at eye level. It was one of the best moments for the kids!