Otway Coast


Overall Area256,247 hectares
Climate1,732 mm per annum at Beech Forest
1,078 mm per annum at Gellibrand
628 mm per annum at Aireys Inlet
Main TownsAnglesea
Apollo Bay
Land UseConservation
Grazing of sheep and cattle
Main Industries
Commercial fishing
Main Natural FeaturesOtway Ranges
The Great Otway National Park
Aire River
Gellibrand River
Barham River
Anglesea River
Various Smaller Coastal Rivers and Streams
Map of the Otway Coast Landscape System including link to NRM Portal
Click on map to access Natural Resource Management Portal interactive mapping


The Otway Coast landscape system occurs along the southern edge of the region between the Geelong, Bellarine and Heytesbury landscape systems.  To its north is the Barwon Plains system and it comprises part of the Otway Coast drainage basin and is within the Otway Ranges bioregion.  It sits within the shires of Colac-Otway and Surf Coast ; the Traditional Owners are the Wadawurrung in the east and the Eastern Maar to the west of Painkalac Creek.

The Great Otway National Park extends across the landscape system and features rugged coastlines, sandy beaches, rock platforms and windswept heathland in the south. In the north, the park features tall forests, ferny gullies, magnificent waterfalls and tranquil lakes. This area, which includes the Great Ocean Road, draws visitors from all over the world for its significant environmental, cultural, social and economic values.

Many of the major waterways in this system are drinking water sources (eg Gellibrand and Barham catchments) and they contain threatened native fish populations (Australian grayling, Australian mudfish and Yarra Pygmy Perch) as well as River blackfish in the Gellibrand catchment.( The latter is not yet considered threatened under legislation but has undergone significant population decline over recent decades.)

Of particular significance is the Aire River, being the only river in the Corangamite region listed under the Heritage Rivers Act 1992, and possessing important nature conservation, scenic, recreational and cultural values.

A number of important wetlands are sited along the coastal fringe near Hordern Vale west of Cape Otway including Lake Costin, Lake Craven, Lake Calder and Lake Horden. Rivers such as the Elliot and Parker to the east of Cape Otway also retain high levels of naturalness.

Key values identified in the Otway Coast landscape system include:
• known rare and threatened species
• significant Ecological Vegetation Classes
• significant native fish and bird species
• recreation including swimming, camping, fishing, picnicking, sightseeing, walking tracks, game hunting and non-motor boating
• urban or rural township water sources
• significant aquatic invertebrate communities.


As a result of the national park, conservation is the largest land use in the zone, which is indicative of the rugged landscape and coastline remaining largely inaccessible to early European settlers, protecting large areas of native forest for the conservation of wildlife. This also means that a large portion of this landscape system is under the management of Parks Victoria.

While the Otway Coast is predominantly public land, the soil productivity on private agricultural land is relatively high for the Corangamite region. Its few patches of relatively low soil productivity are around Anglesea on the coast on the eastern edge, while the western edge of the Otway Coast (bordering the Heytesbury area) is consistently of highest productivity.

The major threats to land and its use within this landscape system is landslides, soil structure decline, soil nutrient decline, water logging, soil acidification, sheet/rill erosion and gully/tunnel erosion.

The land use in this area is predominantly for conservation purposes and forestry with the majority of land managed for this purpose within national parks and reserves systems.  Grazing of sheep and cattle is the major agricultural pursuit in this landscape zone followed by dairying.  The major private land use is forestry with large plantations of pines and blue gums for commercial harvesting across the area.

As with a number of coastal areas, there is a high proportion of absentee land owners with many using this area as their holiday location. The large number of tourists that flock to the area also has a proportional impact on the wellbeing of these townships, with many geared towards servicing the tourism industry.


The Otway Coast has a population of around 9,100 – around 2.25% of the total Corangamite region population and is the third least populated area. The most densely populated areas of the Otway Coast are along the coastline, in the townships of Apollo Bay, Lorne, Airey’s Inlet and Anglesea.

The climate is relatively wet and cool with high rainfall (1050 mm over 125 days at Apollo Bay and 924 mm over 117 days at Lorne) and lower maximum temperatures (18o max at Apollo Bay and Lorne, 11o and 9o min at Apollo Bay and Lorne respectively).  The major towns are Anglesea, Lorne and Apollo Bay.  Property prices play a key role in land ownership with the high values associated with purchasing in this area often prohibitive. This is also a trend with properties within the coastal hinterland, with larger properties being purchased for lifestyle purposes.

Landcare groups within this landscape include Princetown, Hordern Vale Glenaire, Otway Barham Catchment, Otway Coast Regenerative Farmers, Beech Forest Ferguson (The Ridge), Apollo Bay, Wye to Wongarra, Forrest, East Otway and Torquay Landcare Groups.

Coastal view