A trip along the Great Ocean Road is not complete without a visit to the famous Twelve Apostles and other spectacular rock formations like The Razorback and Loch Ard Gorge.
Australia’s Great Ocean Road is an iconic destination that must be on the to-do list for any visitors to Melbourne. It is an easy day trip from the city – particularly if you take a tour where everything is organised for you. You only need to sit back, relax and enjoy the incredible scenery. Any tour along the Great Ocean Road will have plenty of stops. There is so much to see!
You can view koalas in the wild, see surf beaches and visit idyllic seaside towns. There is coastal landscapes, rainforest and bushland to explore. Of course, one of the most famous locations to visit along the Great Ocean Road is the Twelve Apostles. However, these are not the only limestone stacks or incredible rock formations in the area. There are many more to see!
Rock Formations on the Great Ocean Road
The Twelve Apostles
The Twelve Apostles rock formations are the most famous sight along Australia’s Great Ocean Road. The stand tall alongside the rocky cliffs, while the waves crash around them. These incredible rock formations have captured the attention of visitors to the Victorian coastline for many decades. They are as iconic to Australia as the Opera House and Uluru. It is impossible to plan a visit to Melbourne and not include the Twelve Apostles on your itinerary.
These iconic limestone stacks were first called the Sow and Piglets, before it was decided that this name was not attractive enough. So they were renamed the Twelve Apostles. They are best viewed from the Twelve Apostles Lookout – just a short walk from the carpark takes you out to the cliff edge where you can capture the incredible views. The sight is spectacular at any time of day, but we highly recommend viewing them at sunset. The ultimate way to experience the magic of this natural attraction is to stay behind when the crowds depart. You can watch at the sun set into the horizon – throwing different light and colours onto the rock and the sky above.
Loch Ard Gorge
Loch Are Gorge is a large gorge, that is quite distinctive along the Great Ocean Road. While most gorge’s along this stretch of the coast are just tall cliffs and waves crashing in – Loch And Gorge has sand. That’s right, there is a beach in Loch And Gorge that is surrounded by the tall limestone walls.
It is a spectacular places to visit. There are steps built to allow access to the beach. This means you can walk right down onto the sand and to the water’s edge. There are also some caves around the gorge which can be viewed from a short distance. Loch And Gorge is not only an incredible natural wonder, but it is also the site of an infamous shipwreck. The gorge is now named after the ship.
To learn more, read about the Loch Ard Shipwreck.
Mutton Bird Island
Mutton Bird Island is the site of the Loch Ard Shipwreck. It was during the early hours of the morning that the ship crashed into Mutton Bird Island and the two survivors were swept by the current into the gorge. Mutton Bird Island is named for the migratory birds that come to nest on the island each year during … They make an annual journey from Alaska to nest and incubate their eggs in areas such as this, along Australia’s southern coast.
Mutton Bird Island can be viewed from the Shipwreck Walk at Loch And Gorge. As well as the island, it is common to see waves crashing in the cliffs from this lookout. Particularly in winter when the southern swells pick up and create large waves. If you visit in winter, you will likely also feel the power of the southerly winds. It was these conditions which forced the Loch Ard off-course.
Gog and Magog
Gog and Magog are the biblical names given to two limestone stacks to the east of the Twelve Apostles. They can actually be viewed from the Twelve Apostles lookout. However they can be viewed from sea level (on the beach) by descending nearby Gibson Steps.
Just a short walk or drive from the Twelve Apostles Lookout is Gibson Steps. These are stairs that were originally carved into the cliff by a local farmer who wanted access to the ocean. It is debated whether the stairs were originally carved by Aboriginal Australians, however the stairs are now named after and credited to farmer Hugh Gibson.
A walk down the stairs brings you eye level with the ocean on a wind, windswept beach. At times of high tide the beach is closed as the waves come crashing right across the sand to the cliff walls. It is worth the walk down to get a feel for the sheer size and scale of the coastal cliffs and the views to the two rock formations Gog and Magog.
The Razorback is the long, narrow, yet very high, rock formation further along the coast from the Twelve Apostles. Access to view the Razorback is via the Loch And Gorge carpark. You can take a scenic walk along the coast to a viewing area that give you a close up look a the Razorback. Not only this, but you can see into the distance to further cliffs, caves and the wide Southern Ocean.
The Razorback viewing platform gives you a close up look at the wind carved top of this rock formation. The twists and turns in the rock seem almost magical. It is common to see sand blowing off the top at the erosion continues each and every day.
The Island Archway is two rock formations that used to be one. In a large gorge, an archway had formed with two large pillars on. Either side and just a thin piece of rock connecting the two on top. In 2015, the top of the arch fell, leaving two large pillars – similar in shape and size to those fo the Twelve Apostles.
The Island Archway can be viewed along the walkway from the Loch And Gorge car park to the Razorback Lookout. It is particularly spectacular just before sunset.
Frequently Asked Questions
How were the Twelve Apostles formed?
This stretch of Australia’s coastline has limestone and sandstone cliffs. Over many thousands of year the cliffs were eroded by the wind and waves. They continue to be eroded today in the same way.
With constant force from the waves crashing against the cliffs, over many years, caves were formed. Over time these caves may have collapsed, leaving the entrance to the cave standing – an archway. When eventually the top of the arch fell, what was left were large pillars of rock – which are what can be seen today.
Why are they called the Twelve Apostles?
It was a name given to them in the hope of attracting more tourists to the area. It seems to have worked as there are now hundreds of thousands of people who visit this spectacular coastline each ad every year.
How do I get to the Twelve Apostles?
The Twelve Apostles, and these other rock formations listed in this article, can be reached via the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne. Or via an inland route from the city as well. The scenic drive will take approximately 4 hours, the inland route is 2.5 hours.
Where is the Great Ocean Road?
The Great Ocean Road starts in Torquay which is just over one hours drive form Melbourne. The road stretches for just over 250km all the way to the seaside town of Peterborough.
You can visit these incredible rock formations on our Great Ocean Road Day Tour from Melbourne or the Sunset Tour of the Great Ocean Road.
Written by: Leah Furey – Digital Content Coordinator @gowest.com.au