Things to do near Brae Birregurra and Forrest

Birregurra is a charming country town and offers lots of history at a relaxed pace. Approximately one and a half hours south west from Melbourne, It is located in the Otway hinterland behind The Great Ocean Road.

Bookmakers Cottage is located smack bang in the middle of the historic Main Street. In the beating heart of a quiet township with a population of around 700. There are 13 shops or businesses. Considering the population and commerce, Birregurra has awesome facilities and infrastructure that the locals are keen to share with visitors.

The Town

Next door is The Otway Artisan Bakery - close enough to smell fresh coffee and baked bread - and on the other side is the Zither House music studio from where you can hear the odd strums of the Zither harpsichords at lesson-time. The owner Angie is a collector, restorer, seller and teacher of chord zithers and autoharps.

Other Birregurra shops include The General Store (basic groceries and lots of takeaway food options for breakfast, lunch and dinner), Yield Restaurant & Providore offers quality degustation lunches and dinners, a café, a patchwork craft shop, a gift shop, a much loved clothing boutique and a hairdresser. There is a heritage listed Post Office built in 1894, hardware and farm supplies store, an op shop, and the soon-to-be-reopened Royal Mail Hotel (July 2021).

There is also a vibrant artisan, gardening and sporting community, a working mill, churches, golf course and a beautiful historic train station with services direct to Melbourne.

The historic train station is heritage listed, opened in 1877 it has just one platform. It is on the Warrnambool line.

It could be fun to catch the train to Birregurra, with a 1 km walk from the Birregurra train station to The Main Street of Birregurra. Worth considering if someone in your group wants the adventure and charm of catching a train to the country. To explore all that the Otways offers, a car is a useful option.

Historic walking tour around Birre Birregurra Heritage Map.

Local Community Sports and Facilities

Footy & Netball - Get out and see some local sport. Birre Football and Netball club, usually play at home every second weekend. Whole day affair, starting with junior in the morning up to the finale with the seniors footy to finish the day. Bar, BBQ, festive atmosphere, supporters are always welcome! Local sport is a big deal in country towns.

Birregurra Recreation Reserve for tennis courts and football oval. Anyone is welcome to turn up and play except when the reserve is used by local sport.

Also kick a footy etc. on beautifully manicured Birre Primary School oval, best grass in the district, sewn by local legend seed suppliers Lidgerwood Seeds.

Golf - $20 to play all day - yay! Bring your own clubs. Try your luck on the Niagara Falls hole - a cliff top shot!

Bowling Club - Try barefoot bowls in Birregurra.

Skate Park Birregurra is a bit of fun for the kids.

Yabbying - There's a great local dam near Birre, on public land - traps , fishing wire and instructions and map available at Bootmakers. Pack a chair, a rug and a vino.

Yoga - Jilda offers private classes, you need to book ahead.

Pat a Llama - right out the back of Bootmakers Cottage, across the road on Jenner Street.

Forrest mobile massage is excellent ring Shizu 0434 551 350 to book or Colac Otways Chinese Medicine 03 52311799 Andrew 0438 816 170. They live in Forrest but will travel.

We can even hook you up with a local Tarot card reader from Skenes Creek, call Eldritch 0413 581 536.

Zither lessons - learn to play the Zither! Super easy and fun, and completely novel. ZitherHouse is next door to Bootmakers Cottage and offers discounts for guests.

Birre Community Arts Group (BCAG) - lots on, check out http://www.birreartsgroup.com/

Markets

Birregurra Sunday Market

Main Street Birregurra Park, Birregurra, Victoria 3242 Australia

Run -10-2pm every second Sunday between Nov and April

For other markets in the Otways

www.otwayharvesttrail.org.au/country-markets

The Birregurra Festival

Birregura hosts a harvest festival over a whole weekend, each October. The town is inundated with people, music, circus acts and classic Aussie festival entertainment like wood chop, dog jump and cow pat lottery

Foodies

Birregurra is of course home to the internationally acclaimed Brae Restaurant. A reservation at Brae is often the reason our guests are drawn to the region. Book well in advance.

Brae is 2.8 km out of town or a 4 minute drive from Bookmakers Cottage. Kaye at Colac Taxis - 0498854843 is the recommended go to person for transport to and from Brae in the region.

It's common for our guests to do a Brae-Yield back to back lunch one day and dinner the next or vice versa. Yield Restaurant & Providore offers an amazing degustation menu. Book well ahead. It’s a simple stroll two minutes down Main Street from Bootmakers Cottage.

Our foodie guests also love spending time exploring the amazing farm gates, growers and producers, breweries and winemakers of the Otway Harvest Trail.

The Otway Harvest Trail is an easy-to-follow driving route through the Otway Ranges. Showcasing grassroots local businesses that bring out the best of what the Otways hinterland has to offer in the form of food produce, wine, gourmet products, and things to do in the Otway Ranges.

Otways Harvest Trail- You can download the harvest trail map and brochure here.

Breweries, Winery and Distilleries

The Otways Harvest Trail map shows the locations:

https://www.otwayharvesttrail.org.au/

Has links to :

  • Heroes Vineyard
  • Babenorek Estate
  • Blakes Estate
  • Brown Magpie Wines
  • Colac Distillery
  • Dinny Goonan Wines
  • Forrest Brewing Company
  • Forrest Distillery (from Forrest General Store)
  • Otway Estate Bar And Cafe (Hand-crafted Prickly Moses Beers and Ciders )
  • Cafe Otway Hinterland Wines

Also

Forrest

The nearby township of Forrest (20 minutes) is a quaint little timber town nestled on the edge of the Otways National Park. Since the demise of old growth timber felling, it has been reborn as a hub for mountain biking, with world-class mountain bike trails.

www.visitvictoria.com/Regions/Great-Ocean-Road/Destinations/Forrest

65 kilometres of sign-posted single track that circles the town. The purpose built trails wind through striking landscapes and pristine rainforest, fern gullies and bushland.

While the mountain bike trails host several internationally renowned events each year attracting thousands to the region. Don’t think you need to be a super athlete or lycra legend to enjoy riding through the rain forest. A bit like ski runs, the trails are colour coded into levels of intensity. There are maps all over town.

Click here to download the trail maps

Forrest has a historic walk with information boards throughout the town.

Forrest has four great options for food and dining, showcasing predominantly local produce:

For Vintage and retro lovers. Forrest Retro Road at 12 Station Street has 5 rooms of stuff. Open weekends or you can call Mara 0428502323 at other times to make an appointment to view. Retro Road also sells local artwork and locally made clothes.

Forrest Common:

The original site of the Forrest train station, the Common is a great place to kick the footy, have a free hit of tennis and there’s a playground for the littlies. Shady trees, public toilets, BBQ and shelter with a table, make it a great place to picnic no matter the weather.

For all things Forrest Community:

https://www.forrestvictoria.com

Nature Walks

West Barwon Reservoir:

Take a 20 minute stroll or 5 minute ride along the Forrest Loop track through forest and meandering parkland along the river to the West Barwon Dam with stunning views where Monday Creek and the Barwon River meet. BBQ’s, toilets and a picturesque picnic ground complete the picture and read about the history of the dam construction and the environment at the information board. Keep an eye out for the birdlife, including the Superb fairy wrens that call the reservoir home. It is also an easy drive to the carpark accessible from the main road to Apollo Bay.

Fern Gully walk:

On the road to the West Barwon Reservoir, turn off at the Fern Gully Walk sign and take a short 15 minute walk into a magical valley where the ferns tower overhead and you feel like you have entered another world. You pop out on the Forrest Loop and can make your way back to the reservoir or onto the Forrest township.

Lake Elizabeth

Lake Elizabeth is 4km from Forrest, located deep in the Otway Ranges. Created in 1951 when a landslide dammed the river, the lake’s calm waters are punctured by the tattered trunks of manna gums and surrounded by dense rainforest on all sides.

Revel in the majestic scenery and listen to the sounds of the forest on one of the nearby walking trails, and stop to gaze at mountains streams and towering eucalypts. It’s a photographer's dream.

Wildlife spotting including bird watching, platypus at dawn and glow worms after dark.

Guided Platypus tour

The 1km walk in, puts most people off carrying in a canoe. Bruce has this covered with x 2 canoes permanently housed ( by old school chain and lock) on the lake. Bruce is so seasoned at spotting these elusive and ancient creatures in their habitat. He claims a 95% sighting success rate. He offers a guarantee. If you don't spot one you can come back again at no cost for another guided trip on the misty and enchanted lake.

Stevensons Falls

16 minutes or 11km from Forrest, 40 minutes from Birregurra.

Probably the easiest and most accessible waterfall.

The short walk is 500m return. Start at the day carpark via the second bridge.

The longer 4.6km walk begins at the campground

and meanders along the edge of the Gellibrand River to the day visitor area. From there, the walking track crosses the river and continues through stands of Douglas Fir trees and then back down to the river. The track ends at the viewing platform at the base of the falls.

  • Other Otways Waterfalls below

TIGER Trail

The Tiger Rail Trail or Birregurra-Forrest Rail Trail follows the route of the former Forrest branch railway line. After the line was dis-used by trains, a passenger service was introduced, ferrying residents to and from Forrest along the rails. The car was painted yellow with black stripes.

Some of the trail is along the road, some bits wind off into the forest. You can walk or cycle.

Rail trail -Birregurra to Forrest.

https://www.railtrails.org.au/

Trees Adventure Yeodene Park

15 mins from Birregurra or Forrest

  • Not to be confused with The more famous Otways Fly (below)

Tree surfing in harnesses is a climbing nature walk. It is a 3D obstacle course, strung through a forest of trees. The harness system allows you to move between obstacles and zip lines without ever un-buckling. At times you are up pretty high so it can be scary. It is a wonderful activity to do with kids, they are physically and mentally challenged at every obstacle. It is a great team building activity. It’s fun.

Fungi Tours are also available in Forrest, book ahead May to July. If they don't identify 10 different species, you get your money back.

Further Afield

Other Otway’s waterfalls are near Beech Forest, an hour away from Birregurra. The road is windy, so it is worth doing several activities in this area on a day trip, like the redwood forest, waterfalls, a picnic and the Otways Fly.

https://www.visitotways.com/wa... Falls- A beautiful 20-metre waterfall rewards a reasonably challenging walk from a picnic area just off the Aire Valley Road from Beech Forest Road. It’s about a three-kilometre return walk to and from the viewing platform, however there is no access to the falls.

Hopetoun Falls, which falls 30 metres into the Aire River, also in the Great Otway National Park. You can take in the falls from an upper platform which is just a short walk from the car park, or you can descend about 200 stairs to the base of the falls, which is about a one-kilometre round trip.

Triplet Falls- one of more renowned waterfalls. 3km past The Otway Fly. The pristine waterfalls are beautifully set in ancient forest, with the area providing views into the lower cascades and the main falls. There is a small picnic area, as well as a car park and public toilet facilities, and from which the waterfalls are about a two-kilometre round trip.

Other popular waterfalls, picnic and walking spots easily accessible from Forrest and Birregurra include :

Little Aire Falls, off Phillips Track in the Great Otway National Park, Carisbrook Falls, about a 300-metre walk off the Great Ocean Road near Apollo Bay, and Erskine Falls near Lorne, 53 minutes drive from Birregurra.

Here is a further guide to Walks and Waterfalls in the Otways.

Californian Redwood Forest

The Redwood Forest near Beech Forest was planted in 1939 as an experiment in logging. It was never logged so the trees have grown to a height of around 60m. The tallest tree in the world is a 115m Redwood in California. It has got an eerie feel, quiet and powerful. A great location for a game of hide and seek and a picnic.

www.visitotways.com

Otway E bikes

Also near Beech Forest

Ride electric power assisted bicycles along the beautiful Old Beechy Rail Trail on a 1.5 hour tour. Guide Nathan explains the ecology, takes you to some historic sites, guides you to some great coastal views and even demonstrates how to forage for bush tucker.

www.otwayebikes.com.au

The Otway Fly

Also near Beech Forest

This is the best starting point to learn about the Otways Ranges rainforest and how it works. The massive Mountain Ash trees are truly spectacular and rival Californian Redwoods for the world’s tallest tree. It’s the longest and highest rainforest skywalk in the world. If you are scared of heights, it can be a bit unnerving. It also has zip lining for adults and larger kids.

www.otwayfly.com

The Old Beechy Rail Trail goes from Beech Forest all the way to Colac. The bit from Beech Forest to Bangarook is the best part.

Other notable mentions

Rae Street Relics Colac- great Vintage retro wares.

A few days doing the spectacular Great Ocean Walk.

A drive to beach-side towns of Lorne, Anglesea, Aries Inlet and Apollo Bay or the 12 Apostles. Here is a guide to the Otways Coastal Hamlets.

For those interested in indiginous history, here's a guide.


Our favourites:

1) Otway Artisan Bakery Birregurra for coffee and breakfast roll

2) Lunch at Yield in Birregurra.

3 ) Dinner at Brae

4) Forrest Brewery for breakfast, lunch , dinner or drinks. During and after mountain biking through the rain forest in Forrest.

5 )Lake Elizabeth at dawn when it's misty and the bird life is most active and the platypus are out. It's also good at dusk for spotting platypus, great photos and glow worms.

6) Californian Redwood Forest. Plus Hopetoun, Triplet and Beauchamp Falls while you are in the area. Round out the day at Otway Fly tree top walk.

7) A drive to the beach-side towns of Lorne, Anglesea, Aries Inlet and Apollo Bay for a surf and swim.

8) Forrest General Store homemade pies and a great spread of local goods.

9 Prickly Moses Brewery

10 Timboon Distillery

11) Tree surfing- Trees Adventure, Yeodene Park

12) Digging around for treasure at Forrest Retro Road and Rae Street Relics

Also check out Rae Street Relics in Colac for more Vintage and Retro stuff.

13 ) Otways Harvest Trail



Where to Stay

Bootmakers Cottage - Birregurra

Otways Loft - Forrest

Steam Carriage - Forrest



Mike 11-06-2021