For three solid days our jaws hung open in awe. Driving Australia’s Great Ocean Road is 243 kilometer trip of eye popping scenes. Miles of deserted beaches, waterfalls, cliffs, koalas and kangaroos make the road trip more of a pulling over and parking frenzy than a car ride. Like kids in a giant candy store we awaited the giant lollipop, the sighting of Australia’s 12 Apostles.
Australia’s 12 Apostles are unquestionably the most famous landmark of the Great Ocean Road. Rising majestically from the ocean floor, these rock formations make the stretch of Victoria coastline one of the most dramatic scenes in the world.
Constant erosion by wind and water of the limestone cliffs on the mainland wind and sea began 10–20 million years ago. The soft limestone had little chance against the raging forces of nature.
Gradually caves began to form in the cliffs. With relentless persistence of the elements, the caves gave way to arches. Amazing what a few million years of weather can do.
When the arches collapsed, Australia’s 12 Apostles, rising up to 45 meters high, remained off shore.
The area was originally named the Sow and Piglets but in 1922 renamed the Apostles for tourism purposes. Clearly whomever came up with the pig reference did not have a background in marketing.
Eventually Australia’s rock stacks were re-labelled the 12 Apostles, despite there only being nine stacks. Apparently a ‘close enough’ attitude was implemented for the numbering system.
In 2005 yet another of the Apostles dramatically collapsed leaving 8 of the stone stacks remaining.
When Not To Visit Australia’s 12 Apostles
Traveling in the shoulder season we busily congratulated each other on the lack of crowds on the Great Ocean Road. Breathtaking beaches to ourselves and empty parking lots became the norm.
Then we arrived at the lookout for the long awaited prize of the road trip.
There is no lack of information stating that sunrise and sunset are beautiful times for photography at the 12 Apostles. However no one mentions in any of our research when NOT to visit.
The photo above is 2:30pm on a weekday. At approximately 1:00pm the tour buses begin to arrive from Melbourne. Stuffed with people as eager as us to see these incredible rock formations the buses overflow the parking lot in a jigsaw puzzle maze.
To actually obtain a spot of the viewing platform at the top of the hill is an exercise in patience. Not to mention an elbow wielding experience. I did my best imitation of a very large, pushy salmon wiggling my way upstream.
A picture may be worth a thousand words but Dave thinks you might find a time lapse video even more valuable. Below the path to the lookout.
Our advice for stopping to see the 12 , or is that 8, Apostles, is to aim for morning, late afternoon or evening.
If you do arrive in the afternoon, take several deep breaths. At least you get to see the 12 Apostles. Even if it is with several thousand others on the viewing platform.
What is the most crowded place you have ever been?