Colac is located 148 km west of Melbourne, on the southern shore of Lake Colac, one of many lakes in the district, and at the eastern end of the rich agricultural area known as the 'Western District'. Colac lies at an elevation of 134 metres, and is the first major town on the Princes Highway (A1) west of Geelong, providing a faster route to the attractions and towns of the western Victorian coast than the Great Ocean Road.
Colac is a commercial, service and local government centre of nearly 11,000 people located at the eastern edge of the world's third-largest volcanic plain, a landscape scattered with craters and cones, that has shaped the evolution of the district. Its fertile soil results in a productive area with agricultural, pastoral and dairying industries, noted for its onions, potatoes, cattle, pigs, poultry, timber, sheep and milk products. The area's prosperity is evident in a number of fine homesteads.
Colac is also known by some as the 'Gateway to the Otways
', a reference to the nearby Otway Ranges and the surrounding forests lying to the south of town.
To the south of Colac lie the Otway Ranges, which include a pocket of temperate rainforest rich in flora and wildlife. The forests include the tallest flowering plants in the world, the mighty mountain ashes (Eucalyptus regnans), which can reach as much as 100 m in height. Prolific understorey plants include the blackwoods (Acacia melanoxylon), revered as a craft wood, and the superb soft tree ferns (Dicksonia antarctica) which line many damp, shaded gullies. After the construction of the narrow-gauge railway line from Colac to Crowes at the turn of the twentieth century, much of this timber was exploited for construction purposes in the rest of the State, and even today some logging persists and the tree ferns continue to be harvested.
The recently established Great Otway National Park incorporates the former Otway National Park and Angahook-Lorne, Carlisle and Melba Gully State Parks, as well as areas of State forest and other Crown land. The new park covers 103,000 hectares, an increase in park area of more than 60,000 hectares. The park not only includes the tall wet rainforests but the drier forests of inland slopes and the diverse heathlands and woodlands, fringed by a spectacularly rugged coastline.
What more could any motorcyclist want than to travel the roads located in and around the Otway Rangers Branch?