The 12 Apostles
ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS of the Great Ocean Walk, of course, is the finale of finishing at the 12 Apostles, and they don’t disappoint.
The Apostles, (of which there’s only about 8 now – some have collapsed, but other arches have imploded to create two Apostles out of one) come into view a few kilometres away. The last part of the walk weaves closely along the coast, until it finishes at a newly built viewing platform just for hikers. And it’s quite a sight to see.
The walk officially ends here (where there’s a small dirt car park), but after securing $4.6 million in funding for the track, Parks Victoria will prioritise extending the walk right to the visitor centre for a more formal finish.
Hiker’s view of the 12 Apostles
Enjoy the hikers’ platform view and the peace and quiet while you can, for when you get to the visitor centre just a few more kilometres down the road, it can be a rude awakening back to civilisation. You’ll hear the tourist helicopters before you see the crowds. In the peak season in spring/summer, on weekends and holidays, the place will be an endless hustle and bustle as hoards of buses cruise in and out.
But as with most tourist places, there’s a reason they’re so popular – because the view is totally worth it. Snap your icon Apostles shot from an extensive viewing platform. But also leave a couple of hours to cruise another 10-15km down the coast to other spectacular and less crowded rock formations.
Along this coast, the limestone cliffs have been worn away by the roiling Southern Ocean, forming sea stacks, bridges, caves and blowholes. This area is dynamic, always changing. It was only in 2005 that the foremost Apostle – the closest one in many classic photographs – collapsed in a pile of rubble, which you can still see the remnants of today. And in 1990, the London Bridge formation famously crumbled, leaving two stranded tourists to be rescued by helicopter.
The other apostle sites
If you have the time, drive about 10km down the road to the Bay of Martyrs and Bay of Islands, which have similar, but not quite as tall sea stacks as the Apostles. The busloads of tourists don’t come this far so you can have more than a few quiet moments to yourself to take in the spectacle. Flocks of seabirds can be seen roosting on some of these sea stacks.
To get a real feel of the area, spend a night in nearby Port Campbell, just 5km from the Apostles. The sleepy town has a real SeaChange feel to it (the ABC series was filmed not so far away in Barwon Heads).
A small beach in the Loch Ard Gorge area. It was named after the ship which wrecked here in 1878. (Credit: Carolyn Barry)