The hinterland of the Great Ocean Road is the Otway ranges. These are low mountains that formed in the rifting process that broke up Gondwana. The ranges were once clothed in forest and quite extensive remnants still exist in the Great Otway National Park.
Forests have everything to do with rainfall. If we look at a map of Australian Forests we find them concentrated down the east coast, across the wetter tropics and in the south-west. A rainfall map or a population density map look broadly similar. The white patch ranges from semi-arid to desert and shows how dry a continent Australia is.
I borrowed the map from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. You should have a look <HERE> if you need further information. Perhaps because Australia has relatively little forest the definition used is particularly generous. If there are trees that shade a fifth of the ground it’s a forest. Real forest, tall trees with extensive canopies such as we find in the Otways constitutes only a fraction of what’s shown on the map.
Rainfall in the Otway Ranges from 700 to 1400mm (27 – 55ins). If you lived there you’d have to mow your lawn every week not just a few times in the spring like I do.
The forest types include wet sclerophyl characterised by the magnificent Mountain Ash Eucalyptus regnans and temperate rainforest characterised by Myrtle Beech Nothofagus cunninghamii. This is the furthest west that you will find rainforest in Australia. Throw in some ferns and the odd waterfall and you have a very pretty spot for a picnic … watch out for the leeches.
Australian King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas may well join you at the picnic table while Gang Gang Cockatoos stay a little further back. The habitat is perfect for Lyrebirds and Pilotbirds but they won’t be joining you. They haven’t made it across the gap from the forests west of Melbourne. Nor has the Sooty Owl but this is the place to look for the elusive Grey Goshawk.
And there are the more common forest birds …
Some useful links …