It takes only 600 years for the Southern Ocean to shape and
then reclaim these monuments of the sea
Visitors to this coast are humbled by a seascape that is both ancient in design and dynamic in form. The bone jarring slaps of leviathan waves an aural reminder of a distinct lack of permanency.
Contemplate this spectacular theatre of stone, sea and sand from a network of National Parks trails and lookouts.
Limestone is a sedimentary rock. It forms in layers with the youngest rock closest to the surface. When you look at a cliff in this National Park you are looking at a vertical geological record of millions of years.
Naming the Twelve Apostles
From Piglets to Apostles. Early charts refer to the 12 Apostles as the Sow and Piglets. The Sow refers to Mutton Bird Island which is viewable from Loch Ard Gorge and the Piglets were the surrounding rock formations to the east. When Superintendent C.J. La Trobe passed through this area in 1846, his chart reflected this name.
The rocks are collectively known as the 12 Apostles and are not individually named after the biblical Apostles. The formation was renamed in the 1930's at a time when visitors were travelling along the Old Coach Road from Port Campbell to Princetown to view the formations. A collapse in 2005 reduced the number of stacks that are viewable from the main viewing platform from "8" to "7".
How many Apostles are there?
At first glance you will see seven rock stacks to the west of the main 12 Apostles viewing platform with the rest hidden by headlands and obscured by other stacks. To the east at the southern viewing area are a further 2 rock stacks referred to in local vernacular as Gog and Magog. These two rock stacks are viewable from beach level 1.1 km to the east of the Twelve Apostles. Visitors should note that while there is a small car park at Gibson Steps it is often at capacity and visitors are advised they can walk safely via the Great Ocean Walk on a 1.1 km (2.2km return) trail that leaves from the south side of the Twelve Apostles Visitor Facility.
The sculpted cliff top carpet provides an almost comical homage to the power of wind that shapes it into form. Take a closer look at the hardy clusters of plants with subtle variations in texture and form creating interest and providing a rich palette of texture and colour. This highly specialised group of plants has a delicate beauty and an important ecological role to play. Please restrict your observations to the paths and walkways provided for your use by Parks Victoria. Visitors travelling along the Great Ocean Road can marvel at the contrast presented by the ground hugging cliff top heath in proximity to the tall emerald forests of the nearby Great Otway National Park. Guides on local flora and fauna are available from the Port Campbell Visitor Information Centre in Port Campbell
Beaches of the 12 Apostles Coast
Access to beaches is limited along this wild coastline. Where cliff gives way to sheltered bays and coves the beaches are without equal.
Four estuaries break the vertical cliff lines of Port Campbell National Park. These estuaries provide significant wetland habitat for many species.
Opportunity for wildlife viewing is exceptional around the region. At sea, spot migrating whales, fur seas and penguins. On land, kangaroo, koalas, echidnas and reptiles roam free. Dusk and dawn provides best viewing for many species.
Discover this wonderful landscape together. Hunt the wind, discover amazing plants and animals and wonder at the brilliance of the night sky. Click here and find out more about our free activities and equipment loan.
Rainforest & Waterfalls
Mist cloaked fern glades; ghostly mountain ash and the crystal crash of waterfalls adorn the western Otway Ranges. The deepest, wettest gullies host the western most extremity of rain forest in southern Australia.
Volcanic Lakes & Plains
Follow meandering roads north from the coast to explore sublime volcanic landscapes and charming inland towns. Enjoy the contrast of conical peaks and deep crater lakes that punctuate the even carpet of rolling farmland.