About 100 km east of Melbourne, near the small town of Noojee, sits the Toorongo Falls reserve. In addition to the main falls it has the Amphitheatre Falls and a pleasant walking trail through lush forest - in a beautiful corner of Victoria worth detouring through.
I found the Toorongo Falls accidentally, while seeking a scenic route between Gippsland and the Marysville area. The road through Noojee to Yarra Junction and Warburton looked suitable, and about as direct as a road in mountainous country could be. It was indeed gorgeous. The tall forests - especially just to the east of Noojee - and hilly winding roads made it a route I'd happily do again. But it was more than just a driving route.
A little to the east of Noojee there is the turn-off to the Toorongo Falls. It looked inviting, so I took it. Allowing time in a touring schedule for random diversions like this is highly recommended.
A few kilometres through some farmland takes you up a valley into the reserve ... and lots of trees. If you appreciate forests, the setting of mostly mountain grey gum, mountain ash, manna gum and blackwood should delight. Add the Toorongo River bubbling through it all, and ferns in the damp bits, and you have the ingredients for a pleasant excursion into the natural world.
From the parking area, which has a toilet, a track climbs in zig-zag fashion straight up to the falls. The distance is only 750 metres, but it is mostly uphill and steep in places. Those of less than optimum fitness may need to take it slowly and rest occasionally ... think of it as an opportunity to better soak up the scenery.
The track ends in a small viewing platform with a view of the Toorongo Falls. Wooden railings provide support for small tripods, enabling slow exposures of blurred water. It is a pleasant spot to just rest and enjoy the sights and sounds of a lovely waterfall gushing down the hillside.
From here there are two options. You can return back down the same trail, making it a 1.5km return trip. Or you can make it a 2.2km loop by continuing across the hillside to the Amphitheatre Falls on a longer trail back to the car park.
When I was there, most people were returning directly downhill to the car park. Perhaps they were tired from the ascent, and put off by the uphill slope of the trail heading to the other waterfall. I felt curious and headed towards the other falls. After a short gentle climb the trail follows the contours then goes downhill for most of the rest of the way.
As waterfalls go, the Amphitheatre Falls are not as impressive as the Toorongo Falls - more of a series of cascades in a gently sloping stream. However the setting is pleasant, and the walk back to the car park along this route is delightful. Unlike the climb up, this trail follows a rushing stream downwards most of the way, providing some tranquil water vistas not seen on the way up. There are bits where you step down, but mostly it is an easy downhill gradient.
Detouring to the Toorongo Falls cost me a bit of time, but I felt it was well worth it. Driving through the hilly forests of this part of Victoria is quite scenic. Stopping at the falls, and walking the longer route back, is a great way to experience a beautiful part of this scenery up close.