The 12 Apostles & Shipwreck Coast

Saturday November 3, 2007 (Day 18)

The 12 Apostles & Shipwreck Coast

The Shipwreck Coast of Victoria, Australia stretches from Moonlight Head to Cape Otway, a distance of approximately 130km. This coastline is accessible via the Great Ocean Road, and is home to the limestone formations called The Twelve Apostles.

The Twelve Apostles are a collection of natural limestone stacks standing just off shore in the Port Campbell National Park, on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia. Their proximity to one another has made the site a popular tourist attraction. Originally the site was called the Sow and Piglets. The name was changed in the 1950s to the more majestic "The Twelve Apostles" to lure more visitors even though there were only nine left.

The Twelve Apostles are between the towns of Port Campbell and Princetown on the Great Ocean Road. We toured the area on foot during a terrific rainstorm. There was a helicopter tour ride around them but due to time constraints we did not attempt the ride.

The stacks have been formed by erosion, and are varying heights and thicknesses. A number have fallen over entirely as waves continually erode their bases. A 50-meter tall Apostle collapsed on July 3, 2005, leaving eight. The rate of erosion at the base of the limestone pillars is approximately 2 cm per year.

The Loch Ard Gorge is about 10 minutes drive west of The Twelve Apostles. The gorge is named after the clipper ship Loch Ard, which ran aground on nearby Muttonbird Island on 1 June 1878 approaching the end of a three-month journey from England to Melbourne. All but two of the fifty-four passengers and crew perished - Tom Pearce, a ship's apprentice and Eva Carmichael, an Irishwoman immigrating with her family, both of whom were 18 years of age. According to memorials at the site, Pearce was washed ashore, and rescued Carmichael from the water after hearing her cries for help. Pearce then proceeded to climb out of the gorge to raise the alarm to local pastoralists who immediately set into plan a rescue attempt.

Another well-known feature in Port Campbell National Park to succumb to erosion was the 'London Arch.'

The London Arch was a natural arch and was known as London Bridge because of its similarity to its namesake. The arch was one of the tourist attractions along the Great Ocean Road near Port Campbell in Victoria. This stack was formed by a gradual process of erosion, and until 1990 formed a complete double-span natural bridge. The arch closest to the shoreline collapsed unexpectedly on 15 January 1990, leaving two tourists stranded on the outer part: they were rescued by helicopter.