Aire Crossing to Great Ocean Road

Verified! Steep Creek Advanced Waterfalls Winter CLASS III CLASS IV


Victoria’s Otway Ranges. Approx. 180km South-West of Melbourne.

Contributed by Mark Downie


Class: III - IV(p)

Season: After Rain

Gradient: 25m/km over middle 7km, peaking at around 40m/km at the end

Time: 1 full day

Length: Approx. 11km

Level: Minimum probably around 0.8m, but wouldn't bother unless 1m

Gauge: Just upstream of Aire Crossing on river right. No telemetric as of September 2003

Shuttle: 25km --- about 45 minutes return

Character: Flatwater, logs, waterfalls and great rapids

Suits: Creek boat is best

The first 2km is straightforward flatwater with picturesque rainforest and a few log jams. The first steep section is marked on the map as 'rapids’ then two 'falls’.

The first decent rapid is a 2m-drop spanning the river, shot towards the right. Soon after there is a fun two-stage drop far left. The first stage is 1.5m, and then there are chutes either side of a rock, with more water pushing down the left over a 2m-drop.

Next is the first waterfall.

This is a fall of 7m over a 5m distance. The portage, chicken chute and part shooting options are all on the left side. The second waterfall has a nice 4m slider into a pool river right. This pool rejoins the main waterfall but there is a log protruding river right that makes this fall a bit tricky! The remainder of the fall is about 6m of slide then 3m of vertical (it might be worth taking a saw to make this runable).

Portage is also tricky on river right above a pool. Look for a high-angled log, and descend using a 20m rope.

After this second large fall there are a few rapids before the river flattens a bit more and the topography opens, with more log jams and a few small rapids. Clearwater Creek joins from river left, signalling the start of the second steep section.

Aire Falls is a little way into this section, you should inspect from either side, but no matter how you look at it, it is big! A drop of 2m into some messy water in front of a large boulder looks like a place not to go. The water then flies out the main fall left of the boulder. This drop is around 6m. This rapid is probably shootable by extreme paddlers. Portage is on river right (through bush); it is also tricky but can be done without ropes.

After this fall the river is fairly continuous grade ‘3ish’ with read and run creeking for approximately 2km (best section of the river).

Keep an eye out for logs, and don't be complacent now that you have passed the falls, you could end up pinning a boat or losing a paddle and the walkout is hard!

The last 2km are flat, exiting at the bridge on the highway.

Shaun McManamny July 19, 2006 - Paddled the Aire on 19/07/06 after very heavy rain (140mm in the last 36 hours). The river was running at 1.4 at the put in gauge. Was a great run, the rapids are definitely in the class 4 and 4+ range at this level, with Aire falls still in the 5 to 5+ range.

The log mentioned in the description was still there and still in the way and there is a very big log standing upright in Aire falls, currently making it unrunable if you were so inclined. The section after Aire falls was continuous class 3+ with 1 section of 4+.

Dave Matters November 7, 2007 - Because the Aire River only flows high enough to paddle after massive storms, I’d recommend packing a chain saw if possible. We had to move many trees from across roads which in turn nearly stopped us from starting a truly awesome trip.

Someone has kindly drawn a gauge on the down stream side of the river right pylon at the Great Ocean Road take out. This marker gives I think a more accurate and useful measure than the one at the put in because of where the one at the put has been placed --- before a weir.

The river dropped half a metre in the time that it took us to finish our trip. Be prepared and scout.

Shane Pennicuik January 30 2011 - We paddled this section at a very low level and noticed on Aire Falls that most of the water lands on a rock shelf that at a slightly higher level would be covered and you would not see it. The only way you could run the drop and not get smashed is HARD left, but its only a small area to go for and if you miss your landing on a flat rock from about 6m up.

If your going to consider running this drop you MUST check for yourself the depth and location of the rock shelf. Also, the big log is still in the drop but thats on the right where you don't want to go anyway. If your good enough to run this drop the log shouldn't worry you, because if you go that way (right) your stuffed anyway. Enjoy

Aire Falls. © Shane Pennicuik 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Putting In: From Colac (150km South-West of Melbourne on the Princess Highway) take the Colac-Lavers Hill Rd to Ferguson (41km) (T-intersection). Turn right; 9km on left is Wait A While Road. Follow this for 4km then turn left into Aire Crossing track.

Taking Out: Great Ocean Rd between Apollo Bay and Lavers Hill

Camping: Aire River Crossing

Entry Date: 14 October 2003

Verified Date: 19 July 2006

Verified by: Shaun McManamny


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