Although the Great Ocean Road in Australia stretches from the city of Torquay to Allansford in Victoria, most bus tours starting from Melbourne only go up till the Twelve Apostles before returning to Melbourne via an inland route. I guess no more is possible in a single day tour.
The Twelve Apostles are a group of magnificent limestone stacks, located off the shore of the Port Campbell national park. Eight of these limestone stacks were located quite close to each other and became a major tourist attraction on the Great Ocean Road tours.
Originally known as the Pinnacles (and sometimes as the Sow and Piglets!), their name was officially changed to Twelve Apostles, probably for marketing purposes. This, even though the formation only had eight stacks at the time. In 2005, a 160-foot stack called ‘Judas’ collapsed and now there are only seven stacks left standing at the Twelve Apostles view point. A picture of the pre-collapse view can be seen here.
On reaching the Twelve Apostles, we first make our way to the Twelve Apostles’ Visitors’ Center. The Center has washrooms, a coffee shop, and souvenirs for sale.
Information boards near the Twelve Apostles Visitor’s Center tell us that the Twelve Apostles are actually small islands that turned into stacks due to constant erosion over millions of years.
The extreme weather conditions of the Southern Ocean with its tempestuous winds and powerful surf gradually erode the soft limestone to form caves in the cliffs. These caves then become arches, which eventually collapse to form standalone rock stacks up to 160 feet high. Isolated from the shore, these stacks become even more susceptible to erosion from waves. It is believed that due to waves eroding the cliffs, the existing headlands will also turn into limestone stacks or apostles in the future.
From the Visitors’ Center, you can follow the walking tracks to the Twelve Apostles lookout, Castle Rock, and the Gibson’s Steps lookout.
The walking track to the Twelve Apostles lookout is broad, even, and accessible to wheelchair users. The shrubbery on the sides is quite distinctive and dramatic. The track ends in a boardwalk leading to the lookout, which gets quite crowded by the time we reach there.
Once you reach the lookout, it is clear why nobody is ready to leave. The view is spellbinding and magnificent. You can walk around and see them from different angles and try to count all the stacks still standing.
We too linger till the last possible moment before returning to our bus.
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