The 12 Apostles
Great Otway National Park
Sea mist covers the bay and mountains as we depart from Apollo Bay, we head into the Great Otway National Park, the road takes us through the tall trees of the gum forest, high up in the trees we spot a sleeping Koala and its youngster.
Through the forest the road is narrow, it is a beautiful landscape, on reaching Cape Otway lighthouse we decide to take a look around the grounds and the lighthouse building. We climb the tower and talk to the guide who explains this was the most important lighthouse in Australia as it was the first light ships would see when they arrived from England after months at sea. 90 km south is King Island in the middle of the Bass Strait, the light used to protect shipping passing through this gap.This morning the sea is still hazy, have a walk outside on the viewing platform, certainly winding up here.
On our way back to the Great Ocean Road we stop at an eerie place in the forest, where a forest fire has burnt back the bush, all the trees bleached bone white and the undergrowth only now beginning to come back to life.
Back on the Great Ocean Road, the next 20km are very twisty, curving around the headlands, the road clings to the cliff face. We climb up and over Lavers Hill inland then down the steep road back towards the coast, rejoining the ocean at Princetown.
After Princetown the next stretch is the most visited part of the Great Ocean Road, lots of visitors are transported here from Melbourne one the main A1 highway, so we have to join the tourist crowd to see the Twelve Apostles. The first stop is at Gibson Steps about 1km from the main visitor center. A staircase has been cut into the cliff face leading down to the beach 90m below, it’s spectacular, the waves roll onto the beach underneath the towering cliff face. There are two sea stacks on this side of the 12 Apostles, Moag and Zoag ?
It is a good decision to stop here as its the only way down onto the beach, further along it is too dangerous to allow the thousands of visitors onto the beach. Thousands, yes all at once ! you are suddenly part of the tourist crowd, the viewing platforms overlooking the 12 Apostles provide spectacular views, beautiful and breathtaking, but you have to fight for your place to photograph anything, it’s packed with people ! That’s not in the guide books.
The twelve Apostles is a beautiful place to be just don’t be put off by the crowds, they are all coming to see the same thing, ignore them. Further along the coast our next stop is the Loch Ard Gorge, with it’s sea cave and arches, this part offers a a wide and expansive viewpoint which is totally stunning and mesmerising. The remaining sea stacks form strange shapes in the sea, they seem to defy gravity, but I suppose only for so long….
The Razorbacks are two stacks, impossibly thin and tall its strength is mostly formats length, we spent a long time here, the view is incredible. One stack has a face I don’t know its name, so I’ll call it Aladdine Sane for Mr. Bowie .
The Arch and London Bridge ( it collapsed in 2009 with two people still on it) are the last visits of the day as we head on past Warrnambool towards Port Fairy for our nights stay.
Check out the visitors website : Port Cambell National Park all the information about visiting the Twelve Apostle and Loch Ard Gorge.
Cape Otway Lighthouse station a number of historical building to see, climb the lighthouse or visit the original telegraph station.
Where : on the Southern Ocean, the Great Ocean Road from Apollo Bay to London Bridge. Victoria, Australia.
Travelling : 190km from Apollo Bay to Port Fairy, take the B100 which is the Great Ocean Road until it heads inland and turns towards Warrnambool as the A1, carry on through to Port Fairy. It’s a long day with many stops and other tourists, chill out in Port Fairy.
Camping or Campervan: Southcombe Caravan Park, Port Fairy. Big caravan site, we were there before the holiday season really got going, it is near the seafront and Griffiths Island.
Don’t tell anyone: Gibson Steps most tourist are delivered to the Twelve Apostle visitors centre, avoid it if you can, Gibson Steps allows a walk down to the beach, it#s stunning. The car park is small so you need a bit of luck, or patience.
Next up: Halls Gap, Grampians National Park.
pjbourne is a full time architect, urban masterplanner and sustainability designer. In his free time he’s outside with a camera, running, wandering or mountain biking through the Alps where he lives or indoors in front of the iMac planning another long road trip in a campervan to the other side of the world.
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