12 Apostles – Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road

Monday 16th December 2019 09:22 EST

Dramatic, rugged and windswept- the coastline of Melbourne offers majestic views of the Apostles, splendid sunsets and a perfect summer getaway. Rising out of the Southern Ocean, alongside Australia's famous Great Ocean Road, are the striated pinnacles of limestone rocks, 12 Apostles. Formed about 20 million years ago by constant erosion of the limestone cliffs of the mainland, blasting waves and winds have now battered the softer limestone, forming caves in the cliffs which gave way to arches, and eventually broke them down into 45-metre (150-foot) tall columns.

With only seven of them now remaining, they were once connected to the mainland cliffs. A road trip to Melbourne is a classic way to explore the coastline while on a tour to Australia. The four-hour and about 200 miles of journey offers panoramic seascapes and sneak peaks into the Australian wildlife. Winding bends hug the coast as the Great Ocean Road crosses its protected national park, bushlands and diversified flora and fauna.

View the 12 Apostles at sunrise and sunset as they change colour from dark and foreboding in shadow to brilliant sandy yellow under a full sun. And as the sun sinks below the horizon tourists gather to watch Penguins returning from the waters after a day’s fishing to burrows beneath the main visitor lookout. Now, a series of viewing platforms connected by wooden boardwalks wind their way around the cliff tops for the closest possible experience of these Apostles.

A helicopter flight over the 12 Apostles and a view of the London Bridge

Flights depart throughout the day from the heliport behind the 12 Apostles Visitor Centre. Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge, the Grotto, Bay of Islands, and the entire Shipwreck Coast all the way to Cape Otway, site of the oldest lighthouse in Australia are some of the things to watch out for.

Explore natural attractions and ecology

The self-guided walks at Loch Ard Gorge provide an informative insight into the shipwreck history, geology, and coastal ecology. Visit the Grotto where you can often see rainbows made from wave spray and sunshine, the Arch with its spectacular views of the 12 Apostles in the late afternoon, London Bridge originally a natural archway, which collapsed in 1990, and the Bay of Islands. Climb down the 86 stairs of Gibson Steps to the beach, which is backed by 70-metre (230-foot) limestone cliffs. Make your way towards the enormous offshore rock stacks of Gog and Magog.

Walk the end of the Great Ocean Walk and look out for Kangaroos

From Princetown it is a 7-kilometre (4.3-mile) moderate trudge on boardwalk, crushed gravel, steps and rubber tiles. Savour stunning coastal views and look for kangaroos and birdlife. If you're keen to enjoy a longer walk you can take on the entire 104-kilometre (167-mile) Great Ocean Walk.

Check out the shipwrecks

See the historic shipwreck display at the 12 Apostles Visitor Information Centre in Port Campbell including a 1/60th scale model of the Loch Ard as well as its kedging anchor. Explore the entire Shipwreck Coast, which has more than 200 shipwrecks between Port Fairy and Cape Otway. The Historic Shipwreck Trail has 25 signposted sites leading to information plaques that overlook the cliffs where the wrecks occurred.

Kennett River and Koala Walk

Kennett River is home to some of the friendliest koalas around. The small hamlet is located just off Grey River Road, swarming with both colourful birds and snoozing koalas. You can also join in on the bird feeding provided, with colourful parrots, and cackling cockatoos!

Get out on the water

Take a scenic tour with Port Campbell Boat Charters to see the 12 Apostles up close. It's an invigorating, end-of-the-earth feeling to see this coastline when it's being whipped by howling winds and huge seas. fishing as well as snorkelling and diving adventure.

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