THE BEST DAY TRIP FOR THE TWELVE APOSTLES IN VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA
Last month I was very lucky to tick somewhere special off my bucket list – the Twelve Apostles! A collection of grand limestone stacks towering up to 50 metres above the Southern Ocean, the Twelve Apostles is located off the shore at Port Campbell National Park by the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia. The evolving shapes and proximity of the Twelve Apostles to each other has made the area a popular spot for visitors from all around the world. Before I embarked on my trip, I had no idea I could explore the area in one day. If anything it happened by complete surprise. I just jumped in the car with a friend after flying into Melbourne's Avalon airport and we drove down to the Twelve Apostles. And that’s why I have decided to write this guide – you don’t need more than a day to experience everything the Twelve Apostles and surrounding areas have to offer. So if you’re stuck for weekend plans or only have a day to explore the area, like me, I’ve written the best Twelve Apostles day trip guide that all adventurists who are time poor will enjoy!
LOCATION The Twelve Apostles is located off the shore at Port Campbell National Park by the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia. The National Park is approximately 7km east of Port Campbell, which is approximately a three hour drive from Melbourne’s CBD and Tullamarine Airport, or approximately a two hour drive from Melbourne’s Avalon Airport. The limestone stacks are the temporary remnants of a retreating coastline, under constant attack by the raging sea. Interestingly, there are only seven Apostles left with the most recent collapsing naturally into the Southern Ocean in 2005, highlighting the delicate and ever-changing landscape that makes up Victoria’s pristine coastline. Additionally, the cliff faces are being eroded at the rate of about two centimetres each year.
Twelve Apostles Exploring Time: 1.5 hours Upon arrival, I recommend you stop at the Visitors Centre. Here you will find a big car park, maps, a cafe and toilets. It’s open daily from 10am to 4.30pm and is also the gateway to the Twelve Apostles, so from here take the pathway underneath the highway directly to the various viewing platforms overlooking the majestic Twelve Apostles. There are two areas to view the Apostles and I recommend spending at least an hour here enjoying the spectacular views. It really is something special. Following this, make your way back to the Visitors Centre for a bathroom stop and grab a quick bite to eat before jumping back in the car.
Loch Ard Gorge and Island Archway Exploring Time: 2 hours Head west and drive along the coast to Loch Ard Gorge. The site of a 19th century shipwreck ‘Loch Ard’, there are now three easy walks that allow you to discover the area completely. There is great signage along the walks revealing fascinating anecdotes about the history, geology and natural features of Loch Ard Gorge. After you park the car, take the main footpath leading to the viewing platforms of Loch Ard Gorge and Island Archway. Further along the footpath on your right, there is a viewing area with a concrete wall. Take the stairs leading down to the small beach area of Loch Ard Gorge. Here you will absolutely need to spend a good hour exploring the beach, the rock formations and of course, swim in the crystal clear water. I was there on a fairly overcast day, and even then it looked magnificent. Following this, head back up the stairs and explore the remaining walks and platforms. And make sure you don't miss Thunder Cave - it's spectacular!
London Bridge Exploring Time: 1 hour Now there are only a few hours in a day, so depending on when you started the day trip in the morning, if you have time I highly recommend driving towards Peterborough and stop by London Bridge and The Grotto. All you need to do is drive further down the Great Ocean Road from Loch Ard Gorge for 15 minutes and follow the signs. When you reach the car park for London Bridge, you’ll find two footpaths. Take either one as they both lead to the main footpath, which then leads onto three separate viewing areas (tiered platforms) for London Bridge. Trust me, this gorgeous rock formation is not to be missed!
The Grotto Exploring Time: 1 hour After spending time enjoying the views from the various platforms at London Bridge, jump back in the car and drive onto the Great Ocean Road towards The Grotto, which is only another 15 minutes’ drive. Upon arrival, park the car and take the path that changes from wooden slates to small crushed rocks. The first viewing area is approximately 300 metres from the car park – but don’t linger for too long here. Head down further past the main viewing area to the beach level view of The Grotto.
STAY So after your big day trip, you’ll no doubt want to rest your weary feet. Drive a further two hours towards Torquay, one of the best surfing areas in the whole of Australia. Here you’ll find RACV Torquay Resort and this is where I stayed. Perched within the backdrop of Torquay and Jan Juc beaches, RACV Torquay Resort is set on an expansive golf course with spectacular ocean views and beach access – it is the perfect destination for a weekender. After a long day of exploring, I highly recommend indulging yourself over dinner at the Number One restaurant at the resort. My favourite dishes? The freshly shucked oysters served with red wine shallot dressing, the risotto of creamed fennel with ouse cured Petuna ocean trout, crispy barramundi with zucchini puree, ceviche scallops, pickled kipflers, mixed radish and frisee leaves, and for your sweet tooth, the rhubarb ice cream wrapped in vanilla sponge with limoncello jelly is the best dessert I’ve had. Ever.
RACV Torquay Resort Where: 1 Great Ocean Drive, Jan Juc, Victoria Australia 3228 Information and Reservations: +61 (3) 5261 1600 Website: www.racv.com.au