Located 43 km south of Colac on the northern edge of the Otway
Ranges, Beech Forest is a tiny township which achieved its moment
of national fame in 1983 when a 61-year-old local potato farmer,
Cliff Young, won the Sydney to Melbourne Ultra Marathon. Now
Beech Forest is the home to many wonderful food and primary
producers as well as the centre of the Otway Harvest Trail.
The town was named after the Beech (myrtle) trees which abound
in the local area. It was first settled by Europeans in the
1880s as a result of pressure to open the Otway Ranges to
settlement. The first land selection occurred in 1884 and the
first pub was built four years later. It is claimed that the
pub was completed using timber from a single giant mountain
With the abundance of this kind of timber, Beech Forest quickly
became a major centre for the local timber industry. There
were 29 timber mills in district at one point.
This was compounded when, in 1902, the railway from Colac
arrived. It was a narrow gauge railway and when it was extended to
Crowes it became the longest narrow gauge railway in
Victoria. The railway provided transport for local timber and
huge stands of beech, blackwood and ash were cut down. This
historic route is now home to the popular Old Beechy Rail Trail,
where walkers or cyclists can experience picturesque forests,
farmland and abundant wildlife.
During the period from the end of World War I the town became a
major centre for potato production because of its acclaimed fertile
soil. In 1919 a bushfire destroyed the town and was rebuilt
to the east of the original site.
Beech Forest is a central point to access some of the Otways
beautiful waterfalls and scenic drives:
- Triplet Falls & Little Aire Falls - 4 km west of Beech
- Beauchamp Falls & Hopetoun Falls - approximately 7km south
east of Beech Forest
- Old Beech Rail Trail
- California Redwoods - a spectacular forest of giant Californian
Redwoods (Sequoia trees) planted in 1939.
- Turtons Track - east of Beech Forest this is a beautiful 17km
tourist route through thick rainforest vegetation.
- Otway Fly Treetop Adventures - a spectacular 600 metre long, 25
metre high elevated treetop walk.
Download a copy of the Walks &
Waterfalls Guide here