What are the Twelve Apostles?

The Twelve Apostles are one of the Great Ocean Road’s most famous tourist attractions. The twelve limestone rock stacks, which emerge from the water, are named after the 12 Apostles of Jesus from the Bible stories (Simon, aka Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James, Simon the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, the traitor). These limestone pillars, estimated to be 10 – 20 million years old, were once connected to the cliffs of the mainland but the wild winds and the crashing of waves against them have caused them to erode to such a point that they are now separate. They might be cut off from the mainland but they are still a magnificent sight, standing up to 45 metres high.

The best time to photograph these beauties is at the break of dawn or at the end of the day. At sunrise, the light catches the columns first and they shine brightly against the blue backdrop of the Southern Ocean. As the sun sets, the limestone cliffs light up with a medley of yellow, gold and orange and the Apostles fade into the darkness with an electric sky behind them.

How many Apostles are left?

Actually, due to thousands of years of erosion from wind and crashing waves, only eight of the original twelve Apostles are left standing in this location. Geologists say that the current cliffs will one day become limestone stacks as well, although it may take a few thousand more years for this to happen.

So, where are the Twelve Apostles?

The Twelve Apostles are on the Great Ocean Road, 275 kilometres and a beautiful four hour scenic drive from Melbourne. This destination is certainly one that warrants an overnight stay in one of the local towns. The Apostles are located off the shore of Port Campbell National Park. The nearest town is Princeton where visitors on a budget can choose the fun Thirteenth Apostle Backpackers to spend the night or opt for one of the cosy cottages at Clifton Beach Lodge.

How to get to the 12 Apostles

You can drive along the Princes Highway for a direct and slightly shorter route to the coast but if you want a really relaxing journey, our Great Ocean Road 2 day tour makes visiting the 12 Apostles easy and fun. Our comfortable van will pick up your group and you’ll be chauffeured to the Great Ocean Road via Geelong. Simply sit back and observe the moods of the ocean as you traverse one of the most famous scenic roads in the world.

Once you arrive at the Twelve Apostles visitor centre, head to the Gibson Steps via a 1.1km section of the Great Ocean Walk. The walk starts at the back of the kiosk and sneaks under the Great Ocean Road via an underpass near the Gibson Steps viewing platform. There is beach access here too, so you can peel those socks and shoes off and feel the sand between your toes.

For an extra special experience, Around and About can organise a helicopter flight which takes in the whole shipwreck coast, all the way to Cape Otway.

What else is around?

Just inland from the Great Ocean Road, the Otway Ranges are a natural wonderland. You can hike through stunning rainforest on bush tracks, take a challenging cross country bike trail, visit waterfalls and see native animals in the wild. For those who want to see the world from on high, there is the famous Otway Fly, a treetop walk suspended 30 metres above the forest floor.

The Great Ocean Road is punctuated by lovely little seaside towns with world class cafes and restaurants. Check out The Coast restaurant, an oyster and pizza bar in Anglesea or enjoy Spanish tapas at Movida in Lorne. Further along in the quieter Apollo Bay La Bimba is the place to be.

In Warrnambool, don’t miss Flagstaff Hill, the recreation of the convict settlement and the story of the Shipwreck Coast (more in our next blog).

Have you ever been to see the 12 Apostles? What do you remember most about the experience?

Share your Great Ocean Road stories with us.

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Sunset of the 12 Aposltes