Falling For Water – The Naming of Otways Waterfalls

Shivanee Catherine Mansfield, also known as Philip Larkin, has a passion for falling water that led her on a quest to find, map and name waterfalls hitherto not known to non-Aboriginal people.

During the late 1970’s and 80’s, Shivanee, who at the time worked for the Melbourne Map Centre, traversed the rugged terrain in a bid to map up to 75 waterfalls in the rivers and streams system of the Otways. Shivanee estimates that there are over 500 waterfalls in the Otways with many of them unmapped.

Shivanee named the waterfalls after searching through historical records and consulting with locals. Where there were no previous names, Shivanee created names for them based on their natural features and surrounds. For example, Allambee Beek Falls means ‘to tumble down’ .


02C Birchs Falls On The Aire River Otway RangesThey were so named because “the falls tumble down a large rock face of about twenty metres into a beautiful pool setting.”

It is an age -old belief that close proximity to waterfalls leads to an improved sense of health and well-being. Similar benefits are felt by being close to the ocean with the negative ions produced by moving water.

This belief can be attested to by Sivanee who often experienced “ peace, freedom and serenity as I sat beside a waterfall, feeling the spray on my face, the breeze and the smells of the forest. It enlivened all my senses.”

02C Kyles Falls Lorne 102C Cumberland Falls Lorne 1

Galliebarinda simply means “waterfall”. The name has been given
to falls in the Cumberland River Valley which are extremely wide.
Shivanee said she could not find an Aboriginal word in the
Victorian Tribes to describe “wide” so chose the Aboriginal word
for “waterfall”.

02C Ethel May Falls Apollo Bay 302C Lower Kalimna Falls Lorne 6


Monomeath means beautiful or serene. This name has been given
to falls near Skenes Creek which Shivanee said are set in one of
the Otways’ most splendid river valleys in a serene setting rarely
visited by man”.

02C Margaret Falls Lorne 302C Parsons Falls Cora Lynn Creek Lorne 1


02C Phantom Falls Lorne 0102C Sheoak Falls Lorne 05




12C Yannathan Falls 02Beauchamp Falls SM 4j






Unfortunately Shivanee, who is now in her early 70’s, is unable to pursue her love of walking through the Otways due to health reasons. However, the mountains of research she has collected over decades enables Shivanee to continue to provide advice and collaborate on books such as:

‘Waterfalls of Victoria’ by Dacre Smith 1988
‘250 Victorian Waterfalls’ by Ray Barber and Ian Wace 2011
‘Melbourne’s Waterfalls – 314 within 100 kms of Melbourne’ by Travis Easton 2015

Shivanee’s wish for the future of the Cumberland River Valley from Langdale Pike SM 1jOtways include:
• A Trans-Otways Walking Trail loop to be established from Stevenson’s Falls to Cape Otway via triplet Falls.
• A designated walking/viewing track linking the dozen or so waterfalls in the Mt Sabine Waterfall area.
• The Otway’s flora and fauna being preserved for future generations.
• More knowledge and use of bush foods and bush medicine.
• Consideration in the Great Otway National Park planning for people who pursue ‘passive recreational’ pursuits such as art, bird watching and botanic forays.
Here are some of the waterfalls Shivanee mapped and named:

Category No. 3.
Grid reference : Mt Cowley 7620.1.4. 479257.
Primary reference: Aboriginal Place Names by A.. W Reed.
Meaning : Waterfall.
Reason : These falls are very wide in width and approximately
two metres in height They are set in a very beautiful location of the
Cumberland River Valley. Could not find an Aboriginal word in
the Victorian Tribes to describe “wide”. Therefore chosen waterfall
as being the most appropriate in Aboriginal language.

Category No. 1.
Grid reference : Boonah 7621.2.2. 594375.
Primary reference : Pen & Ink Sketches at Lorne by Brougham
Austin 1890
Waterfalls of Victoria by Darce Smyth 1988.
Meaning : A curved bar of iron with a flat face, shaped to fit the
rim of a horse’s hoof, to which it is nailed for protection.

Category No. 3.
Grid reference : Skenes Creek 7620.4.2. 355168.
Primary reference : Daniel Bunce The Aborigines of Victoria
Vol. No.2 by R Brough Snyth 1876.
Meaning :Agree, amity, appreciate, approve, beauty,
benevolence., bravo, generosity, gentle, mild, well done, charming,
comely, commendation- darling, a favourite, desert, worthy,
elevant, endearment, enjoyment, fair, beautiful, famous, fidelity,
honesty, good, indulgent, kindness, kind, benevolent, laud, to
praise, merit, odoriferous, sweet, pleasant, precious, costly, pretty,
handsome, prime, first-rate, properly, pure, in a fit sense, not
sullied, rapture, delight, rejoice, relish, right, property, satisfied,
seemly, decent, serene, splendid, spotless, deserving, zest, to relish.
Reason : Name so chosen as the falls are set in one of the Otways’
most splendid river valleys. The falls are in a serene setting rarely
visited by man. These falls are approximately twenty metres in
height which are segmented into several drops, before falling to the
valley floor below. The above Aboriginal word describes these
falls in every way.

Category No. 2.
Grid reference : Glenaire 7520.2. 1. 163977.
Primary reference : Waterfalls of Victoria by Darce Smyth 1988.
Meaning : Arch showing prismatic colours in their order formed
in sky (or across cataract etc) opposite sun by reflection, double
refraction and dispersion of the sun’s rays in falling drops of rain,
spray etc; many coloured.

Category No. 3.
Grid reference : Mt. Cowley 7620.1.4.475270.
Primary reference : Daniel Bunce The Aborigines of Victoria
Vol. No.2 by R Brough Smyth 1876.
Meaning : Jaunt, to walkabout, motion, the art of moving,
perambulation, promenade, walking, ramble, to wander, roam,
rove, travel, walk.
Reason : Name so chosen as the river wanders through one of the
many small gorges, which these falls are set in. The falls drop
approximately twenty-five metres over three main sections in a
ramble fashion, thus giving the water a lot of motion through
these falls. The above Aboriginal word describes these falls in
every detail.
More about waterfalls can be found here:

3 thoughts on “Falling For Water – The Naming of Otways Waterfalls

  1. I have got all the books on Victorian waterfalls, it seems all are still incomplete, example 250 Victorian waterfalls is missing still monometh and an already mapped waterfall like congram (which is just near Hopetoun, in the aire valley) why don’t you just publish your own book and list all the Otway waterfalls, with your own pictures Philip? Another note congram falls was on the map at Stevenson falls, how can Ian and Ray publish a book like that missing simple waterfalls let alone some of your ones when they could easy made the book 300 waterfalls in Victoria ? Hmmm it’s time for a complete Victorian waterfall book with all your Otways finds and with the corrective word titling from travis Easton, (difference from a cascade to a fall) and all his new finds around greater Melbourne. This book will sell.(Anthony Attard idea)

  2. I’d love to know more about that magnificent Cumberland River valley pic from Langdale Pike that you dropped in as a miniature. Article provides very useful broader information as we scramble to submit re the Fairhaven to Skenes Creek Coastal Trail Study which is only open for comment until next Friday, 21st June, with a session at Apollo Bay Wednesday evening.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s