Continued wet weather over winter and spring has delayed construction activities at Maits Rest, which is now scheduled to open early next year. A full refurbishment of the boardwalk will see the sensitive rainforest ecosystem better protected, and improve the visitor experience at one of the Great Ocean Road’s favourite walks.
Part of a $2.5 million investment package to improve visitor facilities in the Great Otway National Park, the refurbished Maits Rest will welcome visitors with a wider raised walkway and introduces a range of viewing areas at special points of interest, allowing both intimate and larger groups to gather and share their experience reducing congestion along the walk. New seating and rest spots along the 800m walk will provide opportunities for repose and reflection.
The new raised walkway not only improves the experience of visitors, but also better protects the forest ecosystem. In dispersing visitors along the trail with wider boardwalks and dedicated gathering points, there will be less inclination to step off the pathways alleviating pressures to the forest floor and delicate ecosystem.
Higher than anticipated rainfall impacted construction activities, with almost ten per cent above the average rainfall falling in the area. Approximately 40 per cent of the July to October rainfall fell in the first two months of construction, seeing works frequently halted to ensure workplace safety and reduce impacts to the sensitive environment.
One weather event saw the creek in Maits Rest rise to extraordinary levels and temporarily detour from its natural alignment into the work zone, realigning as the water receded.
With improved weather, works are progressing well with foundation elements complete and pre-fabricated elements now able to be installed. Over the next month, the boardwalk, seating and balustrading will be completed, along with minor carpark improvements to better facilitate over 150,000 annual visitors that come to see the ancient landscape.
While Maits Rest is closed, nearby Melba Gully continues to impress visitors with its rainforest walk and opportunity to see the famed glow worms as well as the Otway Black Snail, endemic to the region and one of five carnivorous snails in Australia. Melba Gully is a must for any visitor to the region and is equipped with picnic and toilet facilities and ample car parking.
Stretching from Anglesea to Princetown and up through the Otways hinterland, the 100,000-hectare Great Otway National Park is one of Victoria’s largest and most important environmental and tourism locations.
Quotes, attributed to Jason Borg, Western Regional, Parks Victoria
“Parks Victoria is committed to building nature-based tourism assets that connect people with the outdoors. Smart construction better protects the environment and creates immersive and memorable experiences for visitors.”
“A refurbished Maits Rest will provide a new opportunity for visitors to engage with an ancient landscape full of wonders.”