JUST AFTER WE'D ARRIVED at Cumberland River Holiday Park, I pushed open the door to the toilet block to find a man polishing the wall of the men’s urinal. I kid you not, he was on his hands and knees buffing the shiny steel surface.
He stood up and introduced himself as David Thomson, the park’s newly appointed manager who, along with his wife Libby, was clearly keen to impress travellers. And impress us they did, as they tended to the picture-perfect grounds that cater for 100 powered and unpowered sites.
We love a van park with lots of grass and Cumberland River Holiday Park is the lushest we have seen anywhere in Australia. The park is situated 7km south-west of family holiday favourite Lorne, on the Great Ocean Road. And we aren’t exaggerating when we say that this RV park is paradise.
MOUNTAINS BY THE SEA
One of my favourite pastimes during our short stay was to place my fold-up chair out on the grass and watch the clear brook babble through the park and out into Bass Strait. The best time to sit there is late afternoon as the sun sets, casting a magnificent golden reflection on the park’s towering cliffs.
Gazing up into the craggy steep cliffs, my wife Jennifer and I thought it would be a real challenge to somehow climb to the very top and enjoy what must be a majestic view over the Great Ocean Road. As luck would have it, the van park adjoins the 22,000ha Angahook-Lorne State Park (included in The Great Otways National Park), so this would be our route to try and find a suitable lookout.
On a picture-perfect day, with plenty of water, Jen and I embarked on the walk through Angahook State Park. As we took our first step on the 10km walking track, we nearly trod on a large black snake. Being regular bushwalkers, this was not an unusual sight for us, but what we saw next was: in one of the nearby gum trees nestled a large koala.
The flat walk along the Cumberland River was a memorable one, with dozens of blue pools, deep waterholes and tumbling waterfalls.
You really just need a basic level of fitness to undertake the riverside walk to Cumberland Falls, but if you are going to make the steep ascent to Castle Rock and Sheoak Falls you will need to be quite fit as it is considered a hard climb.
Walkers are strongly advised not to undertake the river section after heavy rains, as the water levels can become very high.
The riverside walk takes you through areas of ancient rainforest with towering gum trees protecting giant tree ferns. After a bite to eat at Cumberland Falls we found the steep Sheoak walking track which was to eventually lead us to Castle Rock lookout.
It took several hours in total, but when we arrived at Castle Rock, the view was unbelievable. Castle Rock overlooks the holiday park, the nearby beach and Bass Strait, and it’s well worth the effort.
Rather than go back the way we came, we continued along the track and eventually came out onto the Great Ocean Road.
From there, we walked back to the holiday park, but if you can organise to have somebody pick you up rather than walk by the roadside, this is desirable.
If the steep climb through Angahook State Park sounds a bit daunting, an easier alternative is to drive your car to the clearly marked parking area a kilometre or so back towards Lorne. From here it is a much shorter walk to Castle Rock lookout.
THE TOWN OF LORNE
Cumberland River Holiday Park, with its well-stocked shop, LPG gas supplies, ice, firewood and pay phone (mobile reception is scratchy at best), is a perfect base from which to explore the Great Ocean Road. The road itself was built between 1919 and the 1930s, much of it by returned soldiers.
Nearby Lorne is one of Victoria’s most popular coastal towns. From here you can have a swim, play golf, surf, paddle a canoe, watch a movie, dine out and do your shopping. When we pulled our RV into the parking lot of the tourist information centre we saw a lone koala high up in a gum out the front.
Koalas are not the only attraction in beautiful Lorne. The Great Otway National Park is one of Australia’s most picturesque parks and it is right at your doorstep when you stay in or around Lorne. There are several waterfalls in the national park including Erskine Falls, which dramatically plunges 30m into a small pool at the bottom of a steep, fern-studded valley.
Visit Teddy’s Lookout, above the St George River, for great views of Lorne and the surrounding coastline. Access the lookout via George Street.
We really enjoyed the Lorne beach but just bear in mind that the main beach is the only one that is patrolled during the summer months.
If you just want to look at the water rather than immerse yourself in it, take a walk along the Lorne pier. Fish caught off the pier include whiting and trevally.
The Cumberland River Holiday Park at Lorne is one of our favourite RV parks, without a doubt. The babbling brook is soothing, the majestic cliffs keep you spellbound at dusk and the Angahook-Lorne State Park is just at the rear of the campsites. On top of that, the managers will go to any length to keep travellers happy – even if they have to polish the urinals.
Cumberland River Holiday Park is 7km from Lorne on the Great Ocean Road. The park has 100 powered and unpowered sites, plus two-bedroom cabins with ensuites.
The shop sells supplies and gas cylinder refills. Fires are allowed in drums. Phone (03) 5289 1790 or visit www.cumberlandriver.com.au for more information.
Visit www.visitvictoria.com for more information about Lorne and the GOR.
WORDS AND PICS Patrick Kennedy
Source: Caravan World Jun 2012
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