Otway Coast

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Overall Area
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

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 occurs within the shires of Colac-Otway and Surf Coast while the Traditional Owners are the Wadawurrung in the east and the Eastern Maar to the west of Painkalac Creek.

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The Great Otway National Park extends through 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.

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.

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 (18 max at Apollo Bay and Lorne, 11 and 9 min at Apollo Bay and Lorne respectively).  The major towns are Anglesea, Lorne and Apollo Bay.  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 occurring across the area.

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 (not yet considered threatened under legislation but have undergone significant population decline over recent decades).

Of particular significance to the area 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. Additionally, the Great Otway National Park extends throughout this landscape and features rugged coastlines, sandy beaches, rock platforms and windswept heathlands.

A number of important wetlands occur along the coastal fringe near Hordern Vale west of Cape Otway and include 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.