The Twelve Apostles are unique rock formations on the southern Australian coast in the Port Campbell National Park. The 12 Apostles are one of the many geological sites in the Bay of Islands, which is along the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne to Adelaide.
WHAT ARE THE TWELVE APOSTLES AND HOW WERE THE FORMED?
The 45m tall rock stacks were formed through erosion. First, storms and salt water beat into the limestone cliffs, creating caves. As the southern weather continued its relentless battering, the caves slowly became arches, and then when they fell, the limestone rock stacks were formed. There are only 8 of the 12 Apostles left, but due to continuing erosion, the current cliffs are expected to become rock stacks. Who knows, in five years there could be fourteen apostles!
FUN FACTS ABOUT THE TWELVE APOSTLES
Early maps name the rock formations as the Sow and Piglets. The Sow referred to the Mutton Bird Island, at the mouth of Loch Ard Gorge, while the Piglets were the rock formations to the east.
Loch Ard Gorge was named for the Loch Ard, a ship that sunk in 1878 with only two survivors.
The rocks are collectively known as the 12 Apostles, but are not individually named for the biblical Apostles.
You have never been able to see twelve rock formations – supposedly, there have never been twelve, despite the name that lives on through the tourism industry. However… the first map to plot the rock formations (Governor La Trobe’s 1846 map) does show more than 12.
Not all of the stacks are visible from the current viewpoint. Historically, the rock stacks were revealed along the drive from Princetown to Port Campbell.
The last collapse at the 12 Apostles was in 2009, when one of the largest rock stacks collapsed into the ocean. No one was hurt. In 1990, two tourists had to be rescued after a stack collapsed.
HOW TO GET HERE
To visit the 12 Apostles, drive west on the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne; this drive takes around 4 hours one way. The visitor centre is 6km west of the township of Princetown and 12km east of the township of Port Campbell. Parking at the site is designed to accommodate the millions of visitors each year, but the parking site 1km down the road (for two small rock stacks), is not. You are advised to stay at the main car park and walk.
HOW TO VIEW THE 12 APOSTLES
From the Visitors Centre, there is a walkway and an extensive boardwalk to view the rocks from. Meander along the cliffs for different perspectives. You can walk the entire length of the Great Ocean Road over the course of however any days you would like, or walk the 7km from Princetown in a day. Don’t forget to walk down the beach to view Gog and Magog as well!
If you prefer a more exhilarating way to see the 12 Apostles and the Bay of Islands, consider a helicopter tour. There are several to choose from; the aptly named 12 Apostles Helicopters run tours to suit various budgets. Do not miss the bird’s eye view of the stunning coastline!
If flying over them is not your cup of tea, why not take a boat out to get even more up close and personal?
TWELVE APOSTLES ACCOMMODATION
The best time to view the 12 Apostles is at sunrise or sunset, because of the vibrant hues that the sun reflects onto the sandstone. You can camp in the area for perfect viewing times, or stay at a nearby bed and breakfast in Princetown or Port Campbell.
Apostles Camping Park and Cabins: 32 Post Office Road, Princetown, VIC 3269
Port Campbell Hostel: 18 Tregea St, Port Campbell, Victoria 3269
BED AND BREAKFAST/GUESTHOUSE RECOMMENDATIONS
Arabella Country House: 7219 Great Ocean Road, Princetown, VIC 3269
Twelve Apostles Cottages: 7711 Great Ocean Road, Princetown, 3269, Victoria