Port Cambell National Park travel guide
Port Campbell National Park
is perhaps the most spectacular part of the Victorian coast. Packed with outstanding examples of wave-cut land formations, this is one of Australia’s most unusual coastlines and a must-visit for anyone travelling to this area.
The premier attraction here is the Twelve Apostles
, a series of towering rock stacks which have graced the front of a thousand picture postcards and seem instantly familiar and yet spectacularly unlikely at the same time.
Formed by the wind and waves over hundreds of years, these rugged pinnacles which jut out of the Southern Ocean are constantly being undercut by the water beneath them and some seem as if they must be on the verge of collapse – indeed in 2005 one of the stacks did suddenly crash into the sea, altering the iconic view forever.
For the best view of this unlikely line-up arrive either first thing in the morning or late in the day when crowds are minimal. At these times, and especially immediately after sunset, you will also have a good chance of seeing fairy penguins waddle into shore. But Port Campbell National Park is much more than just the famous Twelve Apostles. This whole coastline has been eroded into a series of fascinating formations and no visit would be complete without taking in some of these lesser known but equally spectacular attractions.
Approaching from the east you will come first to Gibson’s Steps
. Originally built by the Aboriginals, then maintained by Hugh Gibson of the Glenample Homestead, this steep and slippery flight of rocky steps gives access to a wild, kelp-covered beach beneath the towering cliffs.
The vertical limestone mass of the mainland and the vast height of the two rock stacks out to sea, Gog and MaGog
, make visitors feel dwarfed and it’s here that the sheer size of the rock formations along this coast really starts to sink in.
On the other side of the Twelve Apostles, don’t miss Loch Ard Gorge
, the scene of the wreck of the Lord Ard. Hope for rough weather: the ocean roars through the narrow opening between the towering cliffs, putting on quite a show and exhibiting the awesome power which has dashed so many ships, created such unique sights and continues to erode this entire coastline. Spend some time here exploring the network of short walks which take visitors around the gorge to a series of viewpoints, including the Blowhole
, which in the right weather, spurts blasts of water into the air. Also look out for muttonbirds, which nest in the area from October to April and create an impressive sight as they return to their burrows en masse in early evening.
More limestone formations can be found past the town of Port Campbell. Some 6km west of town The Arch
is a natural rock arch best seen during rough seas when the water crashes through and around it. The viewing platform here also has great views back to the Twelve Apostles. Further west, London Bridge
was a natural arched bridge from the mainland to an offshore rock stack until 1990 when it unexpectedly crashed into the sea and became a bridge without a middle, and The Grotto
is a calm, still rock pool which contrasts beautifully with the crashing ocean seen behind it, providing some great picture opportunities.
Viewing these formations from land may be impressive but for something truly sensational, why not take to the skies on a scenic helicopter flight? Get a different perspective on a flight from the Twelve Apostles heliport which takes in the famous rock stacks as well as Loch Ard Gorge, the Glenample Homestead and the town of Port Campbell, or travel even further to see London Bridge and The Arch from above or even the nearby cluster of stacks at the Bay of Islands
- an impressively large collection of mammoth rock outcrops scattered across the ocean just offshore – a striking sight often overlooked by tourists and consequently one you may well get all to yourself.
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