The highlight of any Great Ocean Road road trip is without a doubt the 12 Apostles. Rising out the sea, these rock formations are a rite of passage for anyone visiting Victoria or Australia.
Over 2 million local and international tourists visit the 12 Apostles each year – and for good reason! They are something everyone should see at least once in their lives. We break down everything you need to know about these mystical rocks and how to explore them via the Great Ocean Road Victoria. Information on accessibility, admission, facilities, and more is all available here in your guide to visiting the Twelve Apostles Australia.
What Are The Twelve Apostles?
A must see when visiting Australia, the 12 Apostles are quite simply enormous limestone rocks, which stand at an impressive 45 meters high. Believed to have formed over 20 million years ago, these jaw-dropping structures rise out of the Southern Ocean, where they have slowly reduced in number due to harsh winds and battering waves.
There are actually more than 30 limestone stacks stretched along the coastline of Victoria, however, there are only eight of the “12 Apostles” still standing. They are visible from the tourist viewpoints at the 12 Apostles.
Why Are They Famous? The History of the 12 Apostles.
The 12 Apostles have gained popularity over the years due to their location along the famous Great Ocean Road, Australia. The stacks which we see today were originally known as the Sow and Piglets to locals. Muttonbird Island formed the “Sow” and the rock stacks formed the “Piglets”, before being renamed the 12 Apostles for marketing purposes in the 1920s.
These majestic limestone figures were slowly carved out of the rugged cliffs over millions of years, at times forming enormous arches (like London Bridge) which framed the ocean. As harsh weather lashed at the rocks, accompanied by salt and the strong winds of the Southern Ocean, the arches slowly eroded and left singular standing structures.
Geologists believe that the limestone rocks are eroding at approximately 2cm a year. This leads many tourists to want to take in the view of the rocks before they disappear forever. The last time a rock succumbed and fell into the ocean was in July 2003. However, the good news is that due to the impact of the waves on the cliffs, new limestone stacks are predicted to appear in the future.
What Is There To Do At The Twelve Apostles?
Take in the view! Visit one of the viewpoints to get a full view of the stacks. There are numerous decks and viewing areas which are easy to locate. Simply take the well-marked path until the highway from the Visitors Centre.
There are four lookout points, which give you uninterrupted views of the seven stacks and the vast ocean. Make sure to spend time on the main viewing deck, at dusk and dawn you can view little penguins making their way to shore.
Unfortunately, you can’t descend to the beach at the foot of the 12 Apostles. However, if you fancy a sandy walk or some sunbathing, head to nearby Gibson Beach. It is part of the protected area of the 12 Apostles Marine National Park.
There are numerous helicopter tours that will give you a mesmerizing birds-eye view of this iconic attraction. Seeing the Twelve Apostles from above will be a highlight of your trip to Australia. The hefty price tag is well worth the adrenaline, view and overall experience.
How Can I Get To The Twelve Apostles?
The 12 Apostles can be reached via the famous Great Ocean Road. The Great Ocean Road offers breath-taking views, with rugged cliffs and glistening shores. The drive to the 12 Apostle viewing areas can be done by car or by taking an organized tour which often includes other famous sights along the way.
Getting To The Twelve Apostles By Car
From Melbourne: If you’re traveling by car from Melbourne, the journey takes roughly 4-5 hours along The Great Ocean Road. The return trip can be done in roughly 3.5 hours via the Princess Highway, inland route.
From Adelaide: If you’re planning to see the 12 Apostles from Adelaide, it’s 6-7 hour (616km) drive. The same goes for the return journey.
A round trip from Melbourne is fairly easy as there are places to stop along the way, and if you leave early you can beat the crowds and head back to the city before sundown. From Adelaide, it’s a good idea to have some form of accommodation lined up to break up the trip.
Twelve Apostles Tours
Taking a guided tour along The Great Ocean Road is a popular and time-effective way to see the top sights. There are many options to choose from. From small groups to large with various itineraries and attractions in Victoria. We have broken down the best Great Ocean Road & 12 Apostles tours based on your preference and time availability here.
Twelve Apostles Opening Times, Admission & Facilities
The viewing decks over the 12 Apostles is open 365 days a year, from dusk til dawn. However, the visitor’s center is open from 10:00 am-4.30 pm daily.
- Facilities: At the Visitor Centre you can find toilets, basic refreshments and some interpretative displays.
- Accessibility: For disability access, wheelchairs and strollers can access the lower viewing platform, and a wheelchair-accessible toilet is open 24 hours a day at the visitor facility.
- Admission: In addition, there is no admission fee to see the 12 Apostles. Even better, the visitors car park is also free, making it a fantastic way to spend the day without spending a penny.
When Is The Best Time To Visit The Twelve Apostles?
As with most tourist attractions, visiting the 12 Apostles, Australia can get very crowded and it can be quite tricky to avoid the crowds. There certain times of the day and some months which are quieter than others.
The Best Time Of The Day
The most popular time to visit the 12 Apostles is at sunset. However, if you would prefer to avoid the crowds we suggest you visit at sunrise.
The golden glow of the rocks is complemented by the fresh morning breeze. Bring a coffee and watch the light show – its the perfect way to start your day. Although you might not be completely alone, you will avoid the rush of tour buses. After, head down to Port Campbell and explore the small town where you can find quaint shops and restaurants.
The Best Time Of The Year
Retaining their impressiveness all year round, the 12 Apostles in Victoria can be visited any time of year. But with that being said, if you prefer to visit with during the warm, dry months visit between January – March.
Alternatively, the months of June, July and August are slightly less crowded and you’ll be rewarded with the dramatic sight of the Twelve Apostles Australia against the moody winter sky. There is plenty to enjoy during the different seasons along the Great Ocean Road.
Attractions In Port Campbell National Park
Port Campbell National Park is a much-visited area which offers some of the most jaw-dropping views in the world. 12 Apostles are by far the most well known but there are some other nearby attractions along the Great Ocean Road Victoria which are world checking out.
Loch Ard Gorge
Located less than one kilometre from the Twelve Apostles
Loch Ard Gorge is a stunning stretch of sand and golden gorge with turquoise waters. You must visit it when within Port Campbell National Park! Loch Ard Gorge is a mere three minutes drive from the 12 Apostles.
Spend an afternoon exploring the beautiful bay and take a refreshing dip in the clear, blue water. If you want to learn more about the fascinating history of the area, take a guided tour or read the interpretive signage to learn about the famous shipwreck which crashed by Muttonbird Island in 1878.
Located less than one kilometre from the Twelve Apostles
Located a mere 1 kilometre from the 12 Apostles, Gibsons Steps and the beach below is truly impressive. You’ll feel incredibly tiny standing on the sand at the foot of the cliffs. This popular fishing spot with locals is the perfect place to take a stroll after a couple of hours on the Great Ocean Road, Victoria.
The steps which descend to the beach were originally carved by the Aboriginal people who lived in the area but were later maintained by early settlers. However, ensure you wear sturdy shoes if you plan on visiting the beach as the steps can be slippery when wet.
The 12 Apostles is the a centerpiece of the Great Ocean Road. If you are visiting the area don’t miss this iconic sight!