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Cumberland Falls in the Otways
Swimming Hole Heaven in Victoria


 
Two waterfalls fill a circular pool surrounded by sloping rock ledges at Cumberland Falls, a next level swimming hole upstream of Jebbs Pool, in the Otway Ranges south of Lorne. This pool in the Cumberland River Valley is harder to reach due to the additional river crossings, but the reward is greater isolation, slightly deeper water and a more impressive rock wall and waterfall. Swimming in Cumberland Falls in the Otways Above: The pool at Cumberland Falls (Order this image)

To reach the falls, the walk starts at the visitor parking area outside the Cumberland River Holiday Park. See my instructions for the 1 km trek from the holiday park to Jebbs Pool. After Jebbs Pool there are three further river crossings before you reach the falls, roughly 2 km further upstream. If you do not mind getting wet, you can walk through the water at all three crossings under most flow conditions. Crossing without getting wet will test both your balance and your stepping stone selection. The first crossing is at Jebbs Pool, which involves shuffling your bottom along a fallen tree trunk. The second crossing, shortly before passing the Garvey Track turnoff, is the narrowest but most difficult due to the lack of solid stepping stones and the slightly deeper water. The third crossing is relatively simple, with large boulders well spaced across the stream. The managing authority advises not to head here when water levels are high (e.g. after rainfall), when it would be more difficult to cross the river safely, and recommends that "experienced walkers only" attempt the track from Jebbs Pool onwards. Having said that, in dry conditions, an early primary school aged kid also successfully made the journey at the same time I was walking it. It would be a different story however, when the stepping stones are wet or submerged. The track itself had recently been slashed when I visited, with roughly a metre cleared either side of the track, which made for easy walking. The last 50 metres to the falls involves climbing up and over a mound of rock, but in dry conditions this was also fairly straight forward along a reasonably well defined path. Swimming at Cumberland Falls in the Otways Above: The easiest of the three river crossings from Jebbs Pool to Cumberland Falls (Order this image)

Enter and exit the pool from the downstream end, where the entry is gradual, provided you can navigate your way around the many large rocks in the water. The pool is roughly 15-20 metres in diameter, with the depth quickly increasing as you move closer to the base of the falls. The surrounding rock ledges provide a good spot to store your gear and lay down a towell, but the sections near the water's edge and around the smaller waterfall at the side of the pool are extremely slippery. Combined with the slightly steeper than comfortable slope, it is easy to slip over here and slide inadvertantly back into the water. The other advantage of this spot is the large tree at the downstream end of the pool, which provides shade over the water in the morning and the middle of the day. There are no swimming opportunities at the top of the falls.

In the unlikely event that the falls are crowded, there are also other swimming opportunities in two deep holes between the final river crossing and the falls, that are visible from the track.

Here is a video of parts of the walk to the falls and my swim in the water. It was taken in early December in dry conditions, about a week after the last heavy rainfall.

Other Information Before You Go:
Location: Cumberland River Holiday Park, Great Ocean Road, 7 km south-west of Lorne and 150 km (approx. 2 hr 15 mins) drive south west of the Melbourne CBD. Cumberland Falls is part of the Great Otway National Park.
Latitude:-38.574700 Longitude:143.949000
Getting there: Lorne can be reached from either the Great Ocean Road (B100) or inland via Deans Marsh (C151). From Lorne, head south along the Great Ocean Road until you reach the Cumberland River Holiday Park. Park in the visitor car park and follow the instructions in the text above to reach the falls.
Facilities: None at Cumberland Falls or Jebbs Pool. There are picnic tables at the visitor car park, but no public toilets. If you are staying at the holiday park, there are a range of facilities available.
Entrance fee: None
Water temperature: Cool to mild

Water clarity: Clear
Under foot: Rock and stones
Maximum water depth: Greater than 2 metres
Minimum swimming proficiency required: Experienced
Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog: No dogs, removal of firewood prohibited
Sun shade: Shade available over the pool in the morning and middle of the day. Limited shade in the afternoon and around the edge of the pool.
Opening times: Always open
Wheelchair access: None
Accommodation Options: There is no camping at Jebbs Pool or Cumberland Falls, but the Cumberland River Holiday Park is at the start of the walk to the pool and has a range of camping and cabin accommodation.
Managing authority: Parks Victoria
Nearby attractions: Jebbs Pool, roughly 2 km to the south along the same walking track.
Before you head out, make sure to read the swimming safety information and check with the managing authority for any current change of conditions. Specific to this site, the managing authority advises against trying to walk to the falls when river levels are high, and recommends "experienced walkers only from Jebbs Pool" to Cumberland Falls. Use particular caution when using the stepping stones to cross the river, as they can be unstable and slippery when wet, and be very careful on the sloping rock faces around the pool at the falls, which can be slippery when wet.
Locality Map:
The marker indicates the approximate location of the visitor carpark at the start of the walk to Cumberland Falls.
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