Home to so much more than the Twelve Apostles.
Located just over 3hrs from Melbourne, Port Campbell is a colourful seaside village that provokes all those nostalgic feels about simpler times, of childhood summer holidays. You’ll find everything that epitomises the Great Ocean Road right on your doorstep – sandy beaches, iconic views, delicious regional focused dining and boutique accommodation that makes you dream of sea changes. You’ll also find things you’ll never see anywhere else in the world – The Twelve Apostles are undeniably great, as are the many unmissable landmarks of the Port Campbell National Park.
As soon as we walked into our oceanfront Sea Foam Villa the office we’d left a few hours ago now felt like a million miles away. From your private balcony you feel the sea breeze on your face and can nearly step straight onto the sand of Port Campbell Bay, it’s right across the road. Everything you need is on your doorsteps, but tonight was for sitting back on the balcony and watching life in this relaxed seaside village go by.
With a takeaway coffee in hand from Grassroots Deli Café (great coffee!) we set out to discover the area. The Port Campbell Discovery Walk was a great place to start. This 2.5h gentle stroll starts just over the new architecturally designed swing bridge stretching over Port Campbell Creek, a favourite swimming spot for young families. The well-maintained path meanders along the clifftops showcasing panoramic views of Port Campbell Harbour. You might have to share your walk with the native wildlife, they love using this track too.
The clifftop walk gave us a taste of taking in Port Campbell from great heights. But we wanted to get higher still. Next up, a Twelve Apostles to Bay of Islands tour with Twelve Apostles Helicopters. In 25 minutes we travelled over 90km in a luxury helicopter, soaring over 9 landmarks of the Great Ocean Road. Our knowledgeable pilot Ally pointed out the Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, The Sentinel, The Arch, London Bridge, The Grotto, Bay of Martyrs and the Bay of Islands. If those great icons aren’t enough you’ll also be mesmerised by the dramatic cliffs, craggy stacks, pristine bays, crashing waves… and maybe even a pod of dolphins or even a whale.
We couldn’t have a had better weather for exploring Port Campbell – 27degrees and sunny, the ocean was blue water perfection. We couldn’t wait to immerse ourselves in it, just as much as the scenery. Port Campbell Harbour creates a naturally safe cove, perfect for swimming or playing in the waves. And the famous jetty is the perfect launch pad if you feel like jumping straight in. Sailors have sheltered here from the wildness of the Shipwreck Coast for decades and the Bay’s softly sloping grassy hill makes for a great, wind protected picnic spot.
It’s easy to while away the hours on the harbour. And before we could even think about what local restaurant to hit up for dinner, a seaside market popped up around us bursting with stalls full of fresh local produce, gifts, crafts and refreshments. A wandering degustation for dinner coming right up!
Rumour had it Port Campbell would also serve up a special sunset that night so picnic blanket in hand we set off to Loch Ard Gorge – one of our favourite sites from the helicopter tour. It’s understandable why millions of tourists flock to this pristine bay just three minutes from the Twelve Apostles but we were lucky to nearly have it to ourselves. The last of the sun’s light was gorgeous as it slowly faded from the two yellow-washed cliff faces that hug the inlet. Spectacular.
Port Campbell is home to so much more than the iconic Twelve Apostles.
But those magnificent 45m tall limestone structures rising out of the dramatic Southern Ocean, especially at sunrise are undeniably, great! As the first light of the day hits they emerge from the shadows to glow a brilliant sandy yellow. From the viewing platform you can understand how the blasting winds have eroded the soft limestone creating these craggy stacks, caves and cliffs.
A short 1km walk away you can see for yourself how tall these cliffs are. Make your way down to the beach via 86 of the Gibson Steps to visit Gog and Magog, the nicknames for the two limestone pillars rising out of the sea to greet you. You’ll feel tiny as you look up at them and the 70m cliffs towering above you.
Our helicopter pilot said that The Grotto was a must see, so we must see it! The still water of the hidden cave feels so different to the dynamic fast, moving ocean behind it. It’s like a furious, washing machine.
All this site-seeing worked up an appetite, time for lunch at REAL Pizza Pasta Salads. An adventure in itself, Real offers a bespoke dining experience where you choose your own ingredients sourced from local, environmentally responsible providers. Tastes great and feels great too. And with our final bite of lunch our weekend was done.
However you choose to spend your weekend – from the creek to the cafes, views to seafront villas, The Discovery Bay Walk to simply unwinding, you’re guaranteed to have a great weekend in Port Campbell.
There are two main routes for getting to Port Campbell from Melbourne, the most direct of which is the Princes Highway, 3h and 15 mins. But, for those who feel the journey is just as important as the destination itself, the scenic route via the Great Ocean Road takes 4 hours and 30 minutes without stops.
Seeing Victorian icons from land and air
Having world famous beaches nearly to yourself
Waking up to the ocean on your doorstep
Great quality, fresh local dining experiences
Taking in what epitomises the Great Ocean Road all in one place
There’s so much to discover in Port Campbell, we’re just getting started! Join me for another great weekend next week.
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Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Great Ocean Road region the Wadawurrung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging. We recognise and respect their unique cultural heritage and the connection to their traditional lands. We commit to building genuine and lasting partnerships that recognise, embrace and support the spirit of reconciliation, working towards self-determination, equity of outcomes and an equal voice for Australia’s first people.