For decades, visitors from around the globe have been streaming to the Great Ocean Road to visit one specific attraction – to see the 12 Apostles.
The jewel in the crown of Victoria’s best-known road trip will take your breath away and leave you with memories–and photographs–never to forget. But the Great Ocean Road is so much more than just one key landmark. A stunning landscape with magnificent scenery, white sandy surf beaches, small coastal towns, communities rich in history and culture, and plenty of wildlife is just around the corner from the 12 Apostles.
To fully experience the region and its highlights, take a little time out to enjoy the ride and be amazed how easy it is to fill your itinerary with enough variety for a weekend, a week–or even longer!
The closest town to stay in with plenty of shops and cafes is Port Campbell.
The 12 Apostles are part of the Port Campbell National Park, stretching over 30 kilometres along the coast from Princetown to Peterborough. The 12 Apostles are about halfway between Princetown, the closest town, and Port Campbell. With its famous jetty and a Visitor Information Centre (where the knowledge of the friendly team of locals here is second to none), this is a great place to find out the best things to see and do along this section of the Great Ocean Road.
Only eight of the original Apostles are left, although there are 30 rock formations along this stretch of the coastline. With continual erosion affecting the limestone stacks and cliffs, the number of rock stacks are likely to keep changing.
Sunrise and sunset are generally the best time to visit them when the light reflects beautifully off the stacks. Sunset can get quite busy, so why not check them out first thing in the morning? Or for the more adventurous, tick something off from the bucket list and see the 12 Apostles from above on a 12 Apostles Helicopter tour or with Skydive 12 Apostles!
You can even duck into the Port Campbell Visitor Information Centre and hire binoculars and other equipment to get a more in-depth experience.
Port Campbell National Park, where the 12 Apostles are located, stretches from Princetown to Peterborough and also offers many other amazing limestone formations.
Leave yourself plenty of time as there is a lot to see and do in the National Park! Take a short walk on the Princetown wetland boardwalk–or hike the 7km section of the Great Ocean Walk from there to the 12 Apostles. A short 1km walk south of the Apostles are two impressive offshore stacks–Gog and Magog–at the Gibson Steps. The magnitude of the cliff face and coastline here is humbling.
North-west of the 12 Apostles is the magnificent Loch Ard Gorge. This stop is a must for spectacular offshore stacks, blowholes and the indescribable scenery of formations including the Razorback, Island Arch and Thunder Cave. Make sure to grab a picnic and a blanket to soak in the beauty of the beach and its natural amphitheatre here.
A little further along the coast are the Bakers Oven and Sparks Gully.
West of Port Campbell, the Arch is spectacular to visit in the afternoons when bathed in golden light. Each evening, you can also observe little penguins returning to shore from the London Bridge lookout.
A short distance south-east of Peterborough is The Grotto, another beautiful spot to take a break and catch your breath – and for that classic photo.
There is no admission fee for the 12 Apostles, and the lookouts and walking trails are open 365 days a year from dawn to dusk. Consider staying overnight to see their incredible beauty at first light – also the quietest time of the day.
From the large sealed car park, 300 metres of paths lead to the Visitor Centre, lookouts and walkways. Some lookout paths are accessible for prams and wheelchairs, but the eastern viewing platform is steep and unsuitable for those with limited mobility.
The 12 Apostles are 275 kilometres from Melbourne, so about a 4-hour drive along the Great Ocean Road. This leg has SO much to see, that you would be crazy to miss what the Surf Coast, Apollo Bay and the Otways have to offer along the way. So instead of visiting on a rushed eight-hour round trip–not including breaks and sightseeing stops!–consider slowing down and staying a little longer to really experience the best of the region.
The Great Ocean Road journey is so full of mesmerising seascapes, endless beaches, cliffs, a bountiful hinterland and gorgeous small towns, that visiting all its attractions could easily fill a holiday itinerary of a weekend, a week or more!
Once you have seen the 12 Apostles and the Port Campbell National Park, take the hinterland route home to discover even more. The inland route has you winding through dormant volcanoes like Mount Elephant and Mount Noorat, Australia’s largest dry volcanic crater, and historic goldfields. A completely different landscape from only a stone’s throw from the coast.
If you have extra time, spend it in Timboon where you will want to stay so you have time to sample all of the tasty artisan treats like Timboon Fine Ie Cream, Schulz Organic Creamery & Cafe, Timboon Railway Shed Distillery, and more. Port Campbell holds its own with the beautiful town, cafes and walks. Only 200 kilometres from Melbourne, the Great Otway National Park has magnificent waterfalls and walking trails.
The Great Ocean Road is rich in lakes, rivers and volcanic plains. Volcanic activity drastically changed the Victorian landscape thousands of years ago, so visitors today can explore biodiversity hotspots such as the Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve. Whether you want to go fishing, sit on the edge of a lake with your feet in the water or go kayaking, the variety of experiences has something for everyone.
The spectacular coastal scenery of this section of the Great Ocean Road is worth taking the time to see. Visiting the 12 Apostles is just one attraction of so many! Factor in at least two or three days to be sure you have plenty of time.
Get in touch with the friendly Port Campbell Visitor Information Centre team for more ideas about what to see and do along this stunning stretch of the coast. Talking to an experienced local will ensure you make the most of your journey and get expert help, so your visit becomes even more memorable, plus they know all the hidden secrets!
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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.