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Top 12 Apostles attractions

Spend a day or more exploring the rugged and windswept coastline where the world-famous 12 Apostles sit.

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By Bonnie Jackson

Embark on a scenic 4.5-hour drive from Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road and arrive at the wondrous 12 Apostles. Rising out of the Southern Ocean, alongside Australia's famous Great Ocean Road, you'll find these spectacular, 45m (150ft) tall, limestone pillars that were once connected to the mainland cliffs. Here, there are countless ways to soak in the scenery and make the most of your coastal exploration.

See the 12 Apostles from the air

12 Apostles, Great Ocean Road, VIC © Visit Victoria

12 Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Victoria © Visit Victoria

Enjoy a panoramic view of Australia's most spectacular coastal scenery with a helicopter flight over the 12 Apostles. Flights depart throughout the day from the heliport behind the 12 Apostles Visitor Centre. Depending on the length of your flight, you might see not only the world-famous limestone stacks but the entire Shipwreck Coast all the way to Cape Otway, site of the oldest lighthouse in Australia.

Take a self-guided walk to Loch Ard Gorge

Loch Ard Gorge, Great Ocean Road, VIC © Tourism Australia

Loch Ard Gorge, Great Ocean Road, Victoria © Greg Snell Photography

Enjoy the self-guided walks at  Loch Ard Gorge , which introduce shipwreck history, geology, and coastal ecology. It was here that the Loch Ard, probably Victoria’s most famous shipwreck, was smashed against Muttonbird Island in 1878 with only two young survivors.

Visit the surrounding natural attractions

Twelve Apostles, Port Campbell National Park, VIC © Greg Snell Photography

Twelve Apostles, Port Campbell National Park, Victoria © Greg Snell Photography

Pay a visit to the neighbouring scenic stops to make the most of your trip along the Great Ocean Road. Witness the stillness of the water under  The Grotto , learn about the history of the  London Bridge which collapsed in 1990, and marvel at the surrounding Bay of Islands. The best part is, they are all within a 30-minute drive of each other.

View rock stacks from sea level

Couple in front of the Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, VIC © Visit Melbourne and Mark Watson

Great Ocean Walk, Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Victoria © Visit Melbourne and Mark Watson

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Be sure to check tide times and ocean conditions before visiting as the beach is not accessible in all conditions.

Witness the magnitude of the Gog and Magog rock stacks (not considered as part of the 12 Apostles) from ground level. Climb down the 86 stairs of  Gibson Steps to the beach and take a stroll along the soft sand which is backed by 70m (230ft) limestone cliffs. 

Walk the end of the Great Ocean Walk to the 12 Apostles

Twelve Apostles Lodge Walk, Great Ocean Road, VIC © Tourism Australia

Twelve Apostles Lodge Walk, Great Ocean Road, Victoria © Tourism Australia

Arrive at the 12 Apostles at a walker's pace. From Princetown it is a 7km (4mi) moderate walk on boardwalk, crushed gravel, steps, and rubber tiles. Savour stunning coastal views and look for kangaroos and birdlife. If you're keen to enjoy a longer walk, do the four-day  12 Apostles Lodge Walk with superb eco-retreat accommodation or take on the entire 104km (167mi)  Great Ocean Walk any number of ways.

12 apostles places to visit

Places near Melbourne to visit

Check out the shipwrecks

Great Ocean Walk, Shipwreck Coast, Great Ocean Road, VIC © Visit Victoria

Great Ocean Walk, Shipwreck Coast, Great Ocean Road, Victoria © Visit Victoria

Bass Strait was a major shipping route, bringing immigrants and supplies to  Victoria . Explore the entire Shipwreck Coast, which has more than 200 shipwrecks between Port Fairy and Cape Otway. The Historic Shipwreck Trail has 25 signposted sites leading to information plaques that overlook the cliffs where the wrecks occurred. You can see the historic shipwreck display at the 12 Apostles Visitor Information Centre in Port Campbell.

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Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, VIC © Greg Snell, Tourism Australia

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12 Apostles - Great Ocean Road - 7 Things to Do

12 Apostles - Great Ocean Road - 7 Things to Do

Australia

When Is the Best Time

The 12 Apostles is one of Australia's most iconic attractions and an amazing year-round destination. However, summer and even shoulder seasons often bring heavy crowds. Weekends are usually busier due to the proximity to Melbourne. This guide covers everything you should know before you go. Make sure to read my 7 Must-Do Things at the end of this article. 

Teddy's Lookout Lorne - Great Ocean Road

The best time to visit the Great Ocean Road and the 12 Apostles is October, November, and February until May. During the Christmas Holidays, from mid-December until late January, the 12 Apostles are heavily overrun. Regarding the crowds, spring and autumn are the best seasons for your visit. The most rainfall in winter is from June to September.

These are my recommended tours via GetYourGuide with 24 hours in the advance cancellation policy. Thx for booking via my website! With your support, I am able to provide all information first-hand. Tour prices are at no extra cost!

Seasons and Weather

12 Apostles crowded during midday

In general, the Southern Ocean has a strong influence on the climate. It keeps the winter warmer and the summer cooler. In summer, the sun is extreme, but it is not too hot, always a fresh breeze. Most stable weather in summer is from January to March. Most precipitation in the winter, from June to September. Be prepared for extremely windy conditions. While weather conditions don't vary heavily throughout the year, the tourist crowds definitely fluctuate. Thus, spring and autumn are the best time. It's frequently windy along the coast; bring a wind jacket the entire year. Rain can occur, but the wettest time is the winter until September.

Spring (September-November)

Great Ocean Road - Erskine Falls

It's getting warmer but also crowded again. Day temps are pleasant between 16°-20°C. It's cooler in the morning and evening. Expect a packed place from around 10 am onwards, even worse when the tour buses arrive around 12. However, it won't change anything about this spectacular view of the limestone pillars. The water temp, though, is cold, around 15°C. During spring break, most of the accommodations are fully booked.

Summer (December-February)

Shipwreck Walk is leading down to Loch Ard - pic from summer

Best conditions with usually dry and clear weather. Temps can climb up to almost 30°C, but usually, they stay around 22°C. It's the peak season, and the rates are at their highest (book well in advance for a nearby hotel). 12 Apostles are overrun with visitors during the day. However, come early or late in the day and enjoy the special atmosphere. Even though it is summer, it's not that hot because of the breeze from the sea. Water temps are 18°C maximum. That's still pretty cold.

Autumn (March-May)

Great Ocean Road London Bridge in autumn

Fewer visitors but still very busy. Even more so during the Easter holiday and on weekends. Midday is the worst time of the day, but it doesn't change too much of this awesome scenery. The 12 Apostles view is the busiest, and the Grotto or London Bridge are less crowded. The weather gets a little cooler. Temps can drop below 20°C, and the morning and evening temps are around 10°C only.

Winter (June-August)

12 Apostles are less busy during winter

These are the best months if you'd like to enjoy a quieter visit. However, it can still be busy at weekends. Excellent months for taking photos from the large viewing platform without hundreds of others pushing each other shoulder to shoulder. The downside is the weather: While definitely not freezing, it's cooler, and most rainfall occurs in winter. The advantage is that you may get fantastic shots with towering clouds in the back.

These are my recommended tours via GetYourGuide with 24 hours advance cancellation policy. Thx for booking via my website! With your support, I am able to provide all information first-hand. Tour prices are at no extra cost!

Time of Day and Tips for Photographer

12 Apostles - Great Ocean Road

During summer and in the shoulder seasons, the place is usually utterly crowded during the day. In summer, we arrived after midday and felt there were at least a thousand people from many different countries. It was a little difficult to enjoy the scenery with many people next to us, taking pictures or being asked to take photos of them. Usually, I appreciate taking pics for others, but even while we ate our sandwich, I got asked.

We learnt our lesson and visited the 12 Apostles two years later in spring during the morning. For this reason, come early or late in the day to dodge the crowds. The pro is that the light in the morning and the sunset are the best time of the day for magical shots from one of the most famous sights around the world. I know it's hard, I am not an early riser, but get up very early and try to be there at sunrise: Sunrise / Sunset Times Princetown

Don't miss out on my entire Great Ocean Road Guide  - 3 Days Itinerary | Top Tips | Where to Stay

Great Ocean Road Outlook

Best Hotels and Lodges Nearby  

Do you really need to stay the night nearby? YES! If you want to experience the 12 Apostles without massive crowds, then do yourself a favour and book something nearby. Enjoy the peaceful sunset and sunrise! Our 5 recommendations for an exceptional location close to the 12 Apostles, London Bridge and all other attractions of the Port Campbell National Park.

Clifton Beach Lodge - closest to the 12 Apostles

Best Months to Visit

Related Topics

Location and Tips

Australia

The Twelve Apostles are limestone rock stacks by the Great Ocean Road and belong to the "12 Apostles Marine National Park" and "The Port Campbell National Park". Although called the 12 Apostles are currently 8 rocks left. These rocks are constantly changing by the untamed ocean and by weathering. It is just a question of time before the next collapse.

It's a three-hour drive inland from Melbourne to the most famous part of the Great Ocean Road. Schedule some time to visit the collection of wave-sculpted rock formations and the Twelve Apostles. ( Google Maps Link - Melbourne to the 12 Apostles)

8 Facts About the 12 Apostles

  • How many are left? Currently, there are eight Apostles; the ninth one collapsed in 2005.
  • Opening Hours : None. You can visit at any time of the day. Early morning and evening are my preferred time.
  • Fee : No entrance fee. Even parking is free.
  • Parking : Large car park, no fee.
  • Time Spent : Most tours via busses spend about an hour here. The entire National Park is worth to visit a whole day.
  • Facilities : Kiosk and restrooms
  • View : From platforms (see below)
  • Location : Google Maps 12 Apostles

Viewing Platforms (Accessibility)

Boardwalk and Platform at the 12 Apostles Lookout

There are four connected viewing areas which are very close to each other and easily accessible from the parking area. The distance from the parking lot to the upper viewing area is approximately 280 metres and accessible for wheelchairs and strollers. The main viewing area can be reached via a staircase leading down to the platform. The platform is over 2 metres wide and quite long. Find more details about the other platforms and accessibility here: 12 Apostles Accessibility Information

7 Things to Do at the 12 Apostles - Port Campbell National Park

At the 12 Apostles Beach from Gibson Steps

Of course, there is even more, to see and do around the 12 Apostles. These are our highlights after several visits to our friend Rik in Melbourne, Victoria, and around the 12 Apostles. Plan an entire day from sunrise to sunset here, and you will experience the most beautiful parts of this little piece of the entire Great Ocean Road.

12 Apostles early morning

Definitely, one of the most photographed sides is the 12 Apostles. These limestone stacks were formed by erosion. The harsh weather conditions from the Great Southern Ocean and the wind resulted in the erosion of the soft limestone over thousands of years. Walk along the boardwalk to Castle Rock to get the best outlook for all of the left 8 “Apostles”.

Gibson Steps down to 12 Apostles Beach

One km to the east side are the Gibson Steps. There is a small car park only. During the day and in the peak season, you have to walk 1.2 km from the 12 Apostles car park to get there. 86 cliff-stairs lead down to the spectacular beach. It’s the only beach access where you get to two offshore limestone stacks; Magog and Gog. The steps are closed by a gate during high tide. If you want to get a closer look at the beach and the rock formations, check out the tides before. Tide Times 12 Apostles Marine Park

Loch Ard Gorge - Port Campbell National Park

Four km to the west is the next popular stop, the Loch Ard Gorge. The site is named after the clipper, which sank here in 1878. Just two of the 54 passengers survived the disaster. Get more insights into the dramatic shipwreck coast at the Marine Museum in Warrnambool. It’s a 300 m walk down to the beach and gorge. Read the whole story about the Loch Ard Clipper on boards along the short walk. The history of the sunken ship is as fascinating as the scenery. You will love this beach, especially during the summer.

The Razorback - Port Campbell National Park

From the Loch Ard Gorge Parking, you can get to The Razorback, which is on the left. To the right leads the trail to Muttonbird Island and Thunder Cave. The Razorback got its name from the sharp edges caused by the strong sea breeze and spray.

The collapsed London Bridge

Another famous stop within 18 km distance of the 12 Apostles is the collapsed London Bridge. This rock formation and the coastline are constantly attacked by waves (one wave every 14 seconds), rain, and wind, which cause erosions. The collapse of the first arch was just a question of time. Also, the second exposed arch will collapse one day by the forces of nature, leaving two stacks. "The Arch", another rock stack, is nearby but less spectacular.

The Grotto during low tide

Drive another two kilometres along the Great Ocean Road to get to the picturesque Grotto. During low tide, the Grotto looks like in my picture.

Helicopter Tour at the 12 Apostles

A helicopter tour is by far the most thrilling way to view the 12 Apostles. However, it’s also the most expensive one. You’ll not only be amazed by this view of the 12 Apostles, but you’ll also notice that the whole fantastic coastline looks different from the air. Most visitors who did this ride loved it.

Information Centre 12 Apostles

Open seven days a week from 9 am-5 pm. They provide you with information and maps; souvenirs are available as well. A small kiosk offers snacks, coffee, and beverages. Expect to line up during the busy time of the day. It is said restrooms are open day and night, but we experienced them closed before 9 am and in the evening.

Parking at the 12 Apostles

There is plenty of parking at the main attraction, though it can be pretty full during the summer. All other parking areas are smaller and tend to be full around midday. However, wait just a couple of minutes until the next car leaves. Limited parking at Gibson Steps better walk the kilometre from the parking at the visitor centre.

Venemous tiger snake close to the 12 Apostles Lookout

Don't leave the walking and hiking trails along the Great Ocean Road. Venomous snakes are common here. We always spotted a tiger snake when visiting the 12 Apostles. They are common to the coastal areas in the south of Australia.

12 Apostles sunset

Everything Victoria

The Ultimate Guide to Visiting the Twelve Apostles in 2024

The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s most iconic road trips. Stretching along the southern coast of Victoria, from Torquay to Allansford, driving this route will take you on one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives.

And the main attraction of the Great Ocean Road?

It has to be the Twelve Apostles: a collection of limestone rock formations (spoiler: there’s only eight) that are more than 20 million years old. What we love most about these impressive structures is that each “apostle” has its own shape and size — some as tall as 45 metres (or 150 feet) — yet, they all rise majestically out of the waves, almost like ancient sentinels, guarding the coastline.

If you ask us, the Twelve Apostles is an attraction that you should absolutely have on your Australian bucket list. It’s well worth the hype.

Dave and I live in Melbourne, so have taken countless visits out to the Twelve Apostles. Specifically, we first visited in 2009, then most recently in November 2023 — and we’ve checked out these structures over a dozen times in between.

What can we say? We can’t get enough of these iconic coastal rock formations.

Today, we’re going to share everything you need to know about planning your perfect trip to the 12 Apostles.

The History of the Twelve Apostles

Several of the 12 Apostles just off the coast along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia

The history of the Twelve Apostles begins millions of years ago — twenty million, in fact — when Australia was still part of the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana. The limestone rock formations that make up the Twelve Apostles were created thanks to the accumulation of marine sediment and skeletal debris on the ocean floor.

Over millions of years, these sediments were compressed and cemented together to form the rocks we see today.

It’s believed the Twelve Apostles were originally part of a much larger limestone cliff formation known as the Port Campbell Limestone. Over time, the softer parts of the cliff eroded away, leaving behind the distinctive rock stacks that we see today.

Despite the name, there were never actually twelve apostles. In fact, the name was given to the rock formations back in the 1920s as a way to attract tourists to the area. At the time, there were only nine stacks visible from the shoreline. And today, due to erosion, there are eight still standing.

While the history of the Twelve Apostles is primarily geological in nature, they have become an important cultural and historical symbol for the people of Australia. They’re a testament to the incredible power of nature, and a reminder of the beauty and wonder that can still be found on our planet.

The Best Time of Day to Visit the 12 Apostles

12 apostles places to visit

The vast majority of people arrive at the 12 Apostles in the early afternoon.

Yes, between midday and 3 p.m. is when a chaotic blend of tour groups and day trippers arrive from Melbourne. The crowds can be intense. And what that means is that you’re going to be seeing the Twelve Apostles at the worst possible time.

First of all: that swarming mass of tourists? You guessed it; they’re far from quiet. You’ll be surrounded by rampaging children, chattering tour groups, and an army of tripods. The level of annoyance obviously depends on your tolerance level, but it’s safe to say the crowds can be quite overwhelming during those peak hours.

12 apostles places to visit

And it’s not just the level of the noise that you’ll have to contend with: it’s also difficult to find a parking spot and there’s an extended wait time for the viewing areas — especially if you’re hoping to grab a photo of yourself without anybody else in the frame!

Dave and I have visited the 12 Apostles at almost every time of day you can think of: at 7 a.m. after spending the night in Port Campbell , in the middle of the day after driving down from Halls Gap , in mid-afternoon while on a day trip from Melbourne , and several times at sunset. For us, there’s no question that the afternoon is the worst possible time to get there.

Does that mean that you should skip the 12 Apostles if your only option is an afternoon visit?

Absolutely not.

Seeing the 12 Apostles with a few extra people is still more special than not seeing them at all. Just prepare for a mass of people and you won’t be disappointed by the experience.

12 apostles places to visit

So when is the best time to see the 12 Apostles?

I personally love the early morning, at around 7 or 8 a.m. At this time, none of the day trippers have yet arrived, so you’re only sharing the structures with the people who have stayed overnight — and most of those will have opted to see it at sunset the night before.

Because of the orientation of the 12 Apostles, the sun rises from behind the main viewing platform, meaning the structures will be perfectly illuminated in its warm golden glow. There’s usually a bit of sea mist hanging around in the morning, too, which adds to the other-worldly feel of the destination. And there’s only a dozen or so people to share the views with, so you almost feel as though you have it all to yourself.

Dave’s favourite time to visit, however, is at sunset.

I have to confess it’s a pretty magical time to be there.

12 apostles places to visit

On one occasion, we made it to the viewing platform at 5:10 p.m. on a sunny April afternoon — sunset at that time of year is at 6:15. Immediately, we chastised ourselves for having not opted to see the 12 Apostles at sunset before. It was a beautiful experience.

And to our great surprise, there was hardly anybody else there. We shared the viewing area with around 20 other people and, unlike at midday, it was silent. People spoke in hushed tones of awe as we all stared out at millions of years’ worth of natural history.

An hour later, however, as if by magic, several hundred other people had materialised to stand beside us.

12 apostles places to visit

Yep, sunset is yet another time of day that attracts the crowds.

Having said that, the vibe was the exact opposite to the one you’ll encounter at midday: everybody was quiet and calm, snapping photos and whispering to each other. You can usually squeeze into a gap in the railings to take your shot — there’s enough space for everyone — so you won’t have to jostle too hard with the other visitors.

And once the sun has officially dropped below the horizon, don’t you dare think about leaving.

The 30 minutes beyond sunset are when the sky truly grows aflame; often bringing up more impressive colours than those that you’ll see beforehand. And once those 30 minutes are up, something truly wonderful takes place.

You Can See Fairy Penguins if You Hang Around Until Dusk

12 apostles places to visit

I’ll let you in on a secret: there’s a colony of Fairy Penguins — or Little Penguins, as they’re alternatively known — that live on the beach of the 12 Apostles.

And just like the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island , if you stick around until dusk, you’ll be able to watch them make their way across the sand. Unfortunately, you can’t get up close and personal with these ones, as they’re only viewable from the lookout platforms, but it’s still a remarkable experience to witness.

Is it worth it? We think so. An impressive 800 penguins call this part of the world home, so you can definitely make them out from up high. (Your photos are most likely going to be terrible, though, as it’s pretty dark by the time the penguins decide to leave the ocean.)

The only major thing to keep in mind is that if you’re going to be staying overnight in Port Campbell, you’ll need to plan your penguin-viewing around your dinner-eating.

Almost all of the restaurants in Port Campbell stop serving food at around 8 p.m., so you’ll need to make sure that sunset doesn’t interfere with these plans. In particular, during the summer months, when sunset is around 8 p.m., you should plan to eat dinner first; in winter, the sunset rolls in at around at 5-6 p.m., so you’ll have time to eat afterwards.

However, I highly recommend eating an early dinner at the Apollo Bay Fishermen’s Co-Op, which is located on the Great Ocean Road, around 75 minutes before you arrive at the Twelve Apostles. They serve up some of the best fish and chips that I’ve ever had, so offer a significantly better food option than eating in Port Campbell.

Speaking of Port Campbell:

If You Can Stay Overnight, You Should

12 apostles places to visit

The vast majority of visitors to the Twelve Apostles do so on a day trip, and we think that’s a big mistake. In fact, we tell almost everybody who asks us that they should absolutely split the driving across two days.

There are so many advantages to staying overnight.

First of all, it means you’ll be able to watch the sun set over the Twelve Apostles, then follow it up the next day with a peaceful early-morning visit. As I mentioned above: these are easily the best times of day to be there; you’ll be avoiding the crowds that gather during those peak afternoon hours.

Additionally, while the Twelve Apostles are the most famous part of Port Campbell National Park, they’re not the only part.

You’ve also got London Bridge, Loch Ard Gorge, the Grotto, and several other notable rock formations. In my opinion, some of these structures are even more impressive than the Twelve Apostles, but because they’re not as well-known, not as many people visit them. In other words, you could easily spend two or three hours exploring just this section of the coastline. On a Great Ocean Road day trip, that’s simply not possible; you won’t have enough time.

And finally, it’s exhausting.

It takes five hours to get to the Twelve Apostles from Melbourne via the Great Ocean Road — and that’s without factoring in the 30-odd stops you’ll be making for beaches, lookouts, and villages along the way.

By the time you get to the Apostles? You won’t be feeling all that excited about turning back around and driving it all again. Even the non-scenic inland road from the Twelve Apostles to Melbourne takes three hours — it’s a long slog.

The only thing I’d say about staying overnight: if you’re going to be driving to Port Campbell after sunset, keep your eyes peeled for wild animals. On two of our late-night drives in the area we’ve had numerous animals plant themselves in front of our car: kangaroos, wallabies, a koala sitting in the middle of the road; we’ve seen it all! And we could have hit just about all of them if we hadn’t been paying attention.

Take the Gibson Steps: They’re Totally Worth It

12 apostles places to visit

It’s time for a confession: during our first few visits to the 12 Apostles, Dave and I skipped out on going down the Gibson Steps. The small car park at their entrance was always full, so we simply reassured each other that they wouldn’t be worth it, then continued on with our drive.

When we finally did make it down the steps, however, we couldn’t stop talking about how much we’d been missing out on.

Learn from our mistakes: don’t skip the Gibson Steps.

So what even are they?

The Gibson Steps are located roughly 1 kilometre southeast of the 12 Apostles; if you’re driving from Melbourne, you’ll get to them before you get to the Apostles. They are — as the name suggests — a series of steps, and they lead you down from the top of the cliff to the beach below.

Upon reaching the sand, you’ll be greeted by the site of Gog and Magog — two limestone structures that technically aren’t part of the 12 Apostles, but look like they are, so they’re super-impressive.

12 apostles places to visit

Taking the Gibson Steps to the beach offers a unique perspective that you simply can’t get from the viewing platforms. From the bottom of the cliff, as you stroll across the beach, you’re able to get a far better idea of the sheer enormity of these structures. Not only that, but you can get relatively close to Gog and Magog from ground level, giving you a far better idea of the intricate details of these rocks: you can really see the texture!

And the crowds? They’re non-existent down here, even at midday.

12 apostles places to visit

I mentioned above that there’s a car park for the Gibson Steps, but that it’s often full: unfortunately, this is the case. It was absolutely jam-packed in the hour before sunset, and there was only one space left in the quiet early-morning hours, too. The car park holds around 20-30 cars, so there isn’t much space for parking.

There is a designated accessible parking space and that’s usually empty. (Although the steps themselves aren’t accessible to wheelchair users, there’s a viewing platform at the top of them that’s still worth a look.)

It’s not all bad news: people are always leaving the area, so if you have to circle the area for five minutes, it isn’t so bad. I’d be surprised if you had to wait longer than that for a place to space up.

If it’s too busy, you could also park your car at the main car park for the Twelve Apostles and walk back to the Gibson Steps from there, following part of the Great Ocean Walk. It’s a 1 km walk and takes 15 minutes to complete.

Are The 12 Apostles Worth Visiting if It’s Cloudy?

12 apostles places to visit

Now, if you’re anything like me, you tend to feel disheartened by cloudy skies.

I always want to see the attractions I visit at their very best, which in my eyes means with bright, blue, cloudless skies. You can insist that the clouds add drama and interest to a scene and I’ll simply scrunch up my nose in response because I just. can’t. agree.

So what happens when your parents retire and head out to Australia on their dream trip of a lifetime, Lauren? What happens when they arrive in Melbourne and you realise your designated days for driving the Great Ocean Road look decidedly unsunny?

Well, dear reader, let me tell you, because that exact scenario happened just recently, in late-2023 and it was a little bit heartbreaking, to be honest. I wanted them to be able to see the Twelve Apostles at their best. Alas! It wasn’t to be.

You can’t control the weather, you can only control your reaction to the weather.

And as I said above, I strongly believe that seeing the Twelve Apostles in less-than-perfect circumstances is certainly better than not seeing them at all.

But was it worth it?

Well. You can see my photo above. There’s no denying that it’s not quite as eye-catching as the other scenes I’ve shared in this article. It was, however, still quite dramatic. And it was still impressive. My parents still thought it was amazing to see them in person (but of course, they’ve never seen the structures in the sunshine!)

But all that to say that yes, it is worth visiting the Twelve Apostles when it’s overcast. It’s not quite a 10/10 incredible experience, but it’s still a solid 7.5/10.

Plus, one big bonus to the clouds was that there was only around half the amount of people that normally are there at sunset.

Oh, and if you do take my advice and decide to spend the night in Port Campbell and see the Twelve Apostles the next morning, that gives you a second chance to catch those sunny skies! We had far less cloud cover the following morning, so got to see the Apostles illuminated through blue-sky gaps.

What About Visiting if It’s Raining?

12 apostles places to visit

Dave and I always joke about the time that we drove all the way to Port Campbell to see the… Two and a Half Apostles.

As you can see from my photo above, it was kind of accurate!

If you’ve already planned a trip along the Great Ocean Road — maybe you’ve booked to do one of the popular day tours or can’t move your road trip itinerary around — and the weather looks awful, then yes, I would recommend still tackling the drive.

(If you have the ability to move things around and visit during better weather, however, you should absolutely do that!)

You’ll likely be switching up your plans for the drive due to the wet weather — trading sunbathing on the beach for hitting up some hot springs; panoramic lookouts for wine-tasting and cheese-sampling — but there are plenty of indoor highlights on the Great Ocean Road, and the Twelve Apostles will still be waiting for you.

In fact, the best thing about visiting the Twelve Apostles in the pouring rain is that there’ll be about three other people at the viewing platforms at the same time as you. When Dave and I visited and took the above photo, there wasn’t a single other person there with us!

(Yes, there was a reason for that — you could barely see anything! — but it was still an experience few people get to have.)

So pull on your warm clothes, make sure you’ve got a waterproof jacket, and pack on an umbrella. You never know: the rain may have stopped by the time you get there!

Which brings me to my final point about the weather in this part of the world:

Dress for the Weather (And the Potential Weather)

In general, summer brings the best weather to the Great Ocean Road while winter brings the worst. But as my photo in the previous section displays: you can just as easily find yourself in a misty thunderstorm in the middle of February!

This is a part of the world that’s famous for its changeable weather — and it’s nearly always windy — so dressing appropriately will minimise any discomfort. Check the weather forecast before leaving, but prepare for any eventuality.

We once drove the Great Ocean Road in January when the forecast was for rain, but by the time we reached the Twelve Apostles, the clouds had cleared and we had nothing but blue skies.

We also once tackled the Great Ocean Road in 27°C sunshine — perfect weather — but it was so windy at the Twelve Apostles that we were frozen in shorts and a T-shirt. The icy southerly wind had caused the temperature to drop by about 10°C!

It goes both ways.

One thing I do recommend is bringing some shoes with good grip if you plan on making the trek down Gibson Steps. The stairs can be quite slippery when wet, so you’ll want some decent tread as you make your way down.

On that note: if the tide’s coming in at Gibson Steps, be careful!

My dad was happily wandering up to Gog and Magog to take photos when a huge wave swept in, engulfed his legs, and reached all the way to the cliff at the back of the beach! Needless to say, he then had to walk around in soaking-wet shoes for the next couple of hours. If the tide’s coming in and the waves are strong, you could find yourself without any sand to stand on.

12 apostles places to visit

Jump On a Helicopter Tour for a Different Viewpoint

The views are unbeatable: Seeing the Twelve Apostles from above is an experience that simply can’t be replicated on the ground.

From the air, you’ll get a bird’s eye view of these towering limestone stacks, as well as the surrounding coastline, rugged cliffs, and pristine beaches.

During your helicopter tour, you’ll have a knowledgeable pilot to guide you and provide interesting insights into the area’s history and geography. You’ll learn about the Twelve Apostles and the surrounding natural wonders, as well as the history of the Great Ocean Road and the local culture and traditions.

Prices start from $165 per person and can be booked at 12 Apostles Helicopters .

12 apostles places to visit

Respect the Environment While You’re There

Okay, so when you do visit the Twelve Apostles, it’s so important that you remember you’re visiting a fragile ecosystem that is home to a diverse range of plants and animals. Here’s how you can ensure you act as a responsible traveller:

Stay on the designated paths: The Twelve Apostles has strict rules in place to protect the natural environment. One of these rules is to stay on the designated walking trails and avoid trampling on delicate vegetation. Stick to the boardwalks and viewing platforms to help protect the plants and animals that call this area home.

And if you don’t do it for the environment, do it to avoid the snakes!

12 apostles places to visit

Leave no trace: When visiting the Twelve Apostles, it’s important to leave the area as you found it. This means taking all your rubbish with you, including food waste and cigarette butts. Don’t disturb any rocks or shells, and avoid collecting any souvenirs or natural materials. Remember, the less you disturb the environment, the better it will be for future visitors and the natural ecosystem.

Respect the wildlife: The Twelve Apostles are home to a range of wildlife, including seabirds and marine mammals such as seals and whales. When visiting the area, it’s important to respect the animals and keep a safe distance. Don’t feed or disturb them, and avoid making loud noises or sudden movements that could frighten them. Remember, you’re a guest in their home, so treat them with the respect they deserve.

All images copyright Everything Victoria unless otherwise noted

Photo of author

One half of the team behind Everything Victoria, Lauren loves road trips, great food, and seeking out the best beaches in the world. Originally from the U.K., she moved to Melbourne after ten years spent exploring the planet as a travel writer; she believes she's chosen the best city in the world to live.

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Great Ocean Road Insider

Exploring The Iconic Twelve Apostles: A Complete Guide

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This comprehensive article will take you through every aspect of visiting this natural wonder, from the geological formation and cultural significance, to the best spots for photography and the nearby attractions worth exploring. Discover how to get there, what facilities are available, and what activities you can enjoy. With safety tips and personal anecdotes woven throughout, this guide aims to equip readers with all the essential information to have an unforgettable experience at the Twelve Apostles.

Table of Contents

Introduction to the Twelve Apostles

Located along the stunning Great Ocean Road, the Twelve Apostles are a truly awe-inspiring natural wonder. Despite their name, there are actually only eight remaining limestone stacks that make up the Twelve Apostles, as several have fallen victim to the powerful forces of nature over time. The symbol of the Great Ocean Road, these magnificent formations have been shaped by millions of years of erosion, resulting in towering pillars that emerge majestically from the Southern Ocean.

Getting There and Location

To reach the Twelve Apostles, you have a few options. If you’re driving, you can take the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne, following the scenic coastal route. The drive takes approximately three hours and offers breathtaking views along the way. If you prefer not to drive, there are also various transportation options available, including guided tours and public transportation services.

Scenic Beauty and Views

Prepare to be captivated by the unrivaled coastal beauty and awe-inspiring rock formations that await you at the Twelve Apostles. As you gaze out across the vast expanse of the Southern Ocean, you’ll be treated to stunning panoramic views that stretch as far as the eye can see. The limestone stacks, with their unique shapes and textures, create a truly remarkable sight. Don’t forget your camera, as there are plenty of opportunities for breathtaking photography.

Visitor Facilities

To ensure a comfortable visit, there are visitor centers conveniently located near the Twelve Apostles. Here, you can gather information, ask questions, and learn more about the area’s geological and environmental significance. Additionally, you’ll find a range of amenities available at the site, including parking facilities and clean restrooms. Accessibility considerations have also been taken into account, with designated paths and wheelchair ramps provided for those with mobility issues.

Exploring The Iconic Twelve Apostles: A Complete Guide

Activities and Exploration

Exploring the Twelve Apostles goes beyond admiring their beauty from afar. Take advantage of the various walking trails that wind their way through the surrounding coastal landscapes and discover hidden gems along the way. For those seeking a more immersive experience, guided tours are available, allowing you to learn about the area’s unique ecosystem and wildlife. Keep an eye out for native birds, seals, and even whales that can often be spotted offshore.

Historical and Cultural Context

The Twelve Apostles are not just a geological wonder, but also hold historical and cultural significance. These formations have been shaped by millions of years of natural processes. The area is also of importance to the Indigenous communities, with connections to their traditional stories and heritage. Take the time to learn about the rich history and cultural significance of the Twelve Apostles, gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation for this remarkable location.

Exploring The Iconic Twelve Apostles: A Complete Guide

Best Times to Visit

For the best experience and views, it’s important to consider the optimal times to visit the Twelve Apostles. Early morning and late afternoon are often recommended, as the soft golden light enhances the beauty of the rock formations and coastline. As for the best time of year, it largely depends on personal preferences. Spring and autumn offer mild temperatures and lower tourist numbers, while winter can provide dramatic stormy skies. Summer tends to be the busiest period, so plan accordingly.

Safety Tips

While visiting the Twelve Apostles, it’s crucial to prioritize safety. Stick to designated paths and viewpoints, as venturing off can be dangerous and result in erosion damage. Be aware of changing weather conditions, particularly during the winter months when strong winds and rough seas are common. Stay up to date with local weather forecasts and be prepared with appropriate clothing and footwear. Finally, always follow any safety instructions or warnings provided by park rangers or staff.

Nearby Attractions

If you’re looking to enhance your visit to the Twelve Apostles, there are plenty of nearby attractions worth exploring. the Great Ocean Road itself offers countless scenic viewpoints and stunning coastal landscapes. Visit Loch Ard Gorge , a breathtaking cove with a tragic shipwreck tale, or venture to the Great Otway National Park and immerse yourself in lush rainforests. Don’t miss the opportunity to see the London Arch , formerly known as the London Bridge, another natural arch formation along the Great Ocean Road.

Visitor Experience

Visiting the Twelve Apostles is an experience that will leave an indelible mark on your memory. Time and time again, visitors are awestruck by the sheer magnificence of these natural wonders. As you stand on the observation points, surrounded by the beauty of the Southern Ocean and the towering limestone stacks, you can’t help but feel a deep sense of wonder and reverence for nature’s forces. The Twelve Apostles truly are a must-see destination that will forever remain etched in your heart.

In conclusion, the Twelve Apostles along the Great Ocean Road are a testament to the power and beauty of nature. The awe-inspiring coastal views, unique rock formations, and cultural significance make this location a must-visit for any nature enthusiast or traveler. By following the provided guide, you can ensure a memorable and fulfilling experience at the Twelve Apostles, leaving you with lasting memories and a profound appreciation for this extraordinary natural wonder.

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The Great Ocean Road Collective

Stunning sunset view of Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road

Your Guide to Visiting the Twelve Apostles Australia

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.

Table of Contents

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.

the most famous of Great Ocean Road attractions, the 12 Apostles in Port Campbell National Park

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.

12 apostles places to visit

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 foreve r. 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.

Tourists visiting the Twelve Apostles by the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia

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.

12 Apostles

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.

If you are taking a self drive road trip don’t miss this two-day itinerary , or if you have bit more time this three day showcases the best of this scenic stretch.

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.

Great Ocean Road, Australia

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.

Port Campbell National Park sign

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.

visiting the 12 apostles

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.

Loch Ard Gorge on a cloudy and stormy day, Great Ocean Road, Australia

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.

Gibsons Steps

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.

gibsons steps near the 12 Apostles

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.

Read Next: The Top 20 Great Ocean Road Attractions You Must See

The 12 Apostles is the a centerpiece of the Great Ocean Road. If you are visiting the area don’t miss this iconic sight!

What time of year will you visit the 12 Apostles?

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The Twelve Apostles

Towering 45 metres above the mighty Southern Ocean on the Great Ocean Road & Shipwreck Coast are the 12 Apostles.

Visited by more tourists than any other natural attraction in Australia, the Apostles are in the Port Campbell National Park which gets pretty busy with over 2,500,000 visitors each year.

Over the last 15-20 million years, the oceans’ erosion has created these huge stacks from the Sandstone & Limestone coastline that formed at the bottom of a super deep ocean.

The 12 Apostles are pretty impressive and a highlight along this coastline, but just one of the many wonders of the Great Ocean Road and nearby area.

The Eight 12 Apostles

There are eight ’12 Apostles’ and there has only ever been nine of them, since they were renamed in the 1920s.

You can see just five of them from the 12 Apostles viewing area and need to drive a few kilometers down the road to the Loch Ard Gorge car park then go for a short walk to the Razorback to see the other three.

Each of the eight Sandstone and Limestone ‘stacks’ that make up the ’12’ Apostles are just one group of them along this incredible coastline. Heading further west, from the Apostles right deep into South Australia, you’ll find hundreds more, although the 12 Apostles are by far the most well known and potentially the most impressive.

Five Of The Eight 12 Apostles

Getting to the 12 Apostles from Melbourne

It’s not just the amazing group of sandstone stacks that makes so many people want to travel here. The Apostles are the main attraction in the area, although they’re surrounded by hundreds of kilometers incredible coastline and forest that attracts millions of people each year

It is possible to get to the Twelve Apostles in less than three hours from Melbourne by taking the inland and most direct route, although it’s most commonly one of the last visits on a single or multi-day Great Ocean Road trip.

History of the 12 Apostles

This coastline is the tragic site for hundreds of shipwrecks, most of which occurred in the 1850’s during the Australian gold rush era, when tens of thousands of Europeans and Chinese rushed to Melbourne on the hunt for wealth.

The 12 Apostles were first seen by large amounts of Europeans and Chinese in the 1800’s, although it was inhabited for tens of thousands of years prior by the local Indigenous people.

Geologically, the intriguing history of the 12 Apostles spans back a much longer amount of time.

How The Twelve Apostles were formed - why are there 12 Apostles?

The 12 Apostles are eight 45 metre tall Limestone Stacks shaped by erosion.

Over 20 millions years ago the area where the 12 Apostles are today was a super deep ocean for a really long time.

Plant and animal matter that died and sunk to the ocean floor, along with sand from the rivers and other ocean debris that ended up down there slowly compacted over thousands of years from the massive pressure of the huge amount of water above. This created the Sandstone and Limestone (Limestone is Sandstone where 50% or more is made up of fossils) right along the Great Ocean Road.

The water level has changed many times, it’s current level has remained similar for the last 6,000 years, since the end of the last Ice Age. The wind and ocean have eroded the stone at a rate of about 1.5-2cms per year.

At first, the erosion causes caves to form at sea level. Eventually, the caves will turn into passages tunneling through the stone. Some parts of the stone will erode faster than others, depending on its’ make up. In time, the tunnels will get so big that the roof will fall out in areas and the entry or other parts of the tunnel turn into large arch ways. With a bit more time, the centre of the arch way will collapse, leaving what is called a Limestone ‘stack’.

In the future, more Apostles and similar stacks will collapse, although many more of these stacks will form along the Limestone coastline that stretches for hundreds of kilometers across the south of Australia.

Sow & Piglets renamed 12 Apostles

The original name came from George Bass in 1798 when he was exploring the area by sea, then the name was used commonly by new immigrants to identify the landmark that meant they were close to the end of their long voyage.

During the 1800’s, particularly from the 1830’s when immigration from Europe to Australia started to increase, then in the 1850’s right up to the early 1900’s during the gold rush era, ships use to take the ‘Clipper Route’ from England to Melbourne.

The Clipper Route went south of Africa, using the the Roaring Forties (strong winds below Africa & Australia) to sail thousands of kilometers east where no land would be seen until the 12 Apostles and surrounding area.

As ships sailed past a small sandstone island that is now known as ‘ Mutton Bird Island ‘ and the stacks now known as the 12 Apostles, they’d refer to the landmark as the ‘Sow and Piglets’. Mutton Bird Island was the ‘Sow’ (mother Pig) and the Apostles were the Piglets.

It’s said that when the gold rush ended in 1918 due to the last large gold mine closing in Ballarat, less people would travel past the Sow & Piglets, the beauty of this place was less talked about and tourism was down.

A few years later in the 1920’s, the locals started investigating why such a lack of people wanted to visit the incredible Sow and Piglets. After a short while, it was determined that the name wasn’t too attractive so in order to give a bit of justice to the incredible coastline, it was renamed ‘The Apostles’.

Some locals say that originally there was no ’12’ in the name, then due to the bible reference and some other natural stone formations around the world being named the ’12 Apostles’, tour agents begun referring to them as the ’12 Apostles of the Great Ocean Road’ and the Sow & Piglets name was forgotten.

Tips for visiting the 12 Apostles

Being the most visited tourist attraction in Australia and hours from the capital city, it’s worth being prepared for your visit so that you can get the absolute most out of your trip to the 12 Apostles.

How to get the best photo of the 12 Apostles

Morning. Sunny Day, Some Clouds. East, Facing West.

You’ll just need to take a look at a small sample of photos of the 12 Apostles to see that some are breathtakingly incredible, others look like a photo of a dirty rock or overcrowded boardwalk.

Millions of people visit the Apostles every year, so it’s best to get there early in the morning, before the loads of buses arrive from Melbourne.

From the car park and visitor information centre, head straight to the furthest part of the walk that you can go, which is out to a point called Castle Rock at the main Apostles viewing area . It’s tempting to stop and take photos as soon as you get to the area where the Apostles can be seen, but if you keep walking you’ll get an insanely better view with another huge 45 metre sandstone stack that you won’t be able to see from the first viewing area.

At this area, if you face east (towards Melbourne), you’ll actually be looking at Gog & Magog , which are also Sandstone stacks, but they aren’t part of the 12 Apostles. Make sure you’re facing west and you’ll be able to see five of the 12 Apostles. It looks like you can see more than five stacks, but a lot of the what you see is actually still attached to the mainland.

To view the other remaining three of the 12 Apostles, you’ll need to drive for few minutes west to Loch Ard Gorge and walk about 300 metres to the Razor Back (it’s all well signed) Once you get to the Razor Back, look past it and you’ll be able to see the other three of the eight 12 Apostles.

Due to the position of the sun, you’ll get the best photo in the morning as the main viewing platform faces west, otherwise if you arrive in the afternoon, you’ll still be able to get an amazing photo of Gog & Magog or just head down the road to Loch Ard Gorge (we actually think it’s more fun down at Loch Ard Gorge anyway!).

Eva getting a photo infront of the 12 Apostles

When to visit

It starts getting busy at about 10:30am and peaks in the mid afternoon at about 3:30pm. Summer is much busier than any other time of the year, the most busiest week being from Boxing Day (26th of December) to the New Year.

It’s definitely best to visit in the morning! It gets extremely busy here, there have been times in recent years where tens of thousands of visitors have headed there from Melbourne on the same day.

Most of the tour companies aim to leave Melbourne between 7:00-7:45am. The majority of the tour companies and tourists traveling in their own cars will go via the Great Ocean Road and arrive at the 12 Apostles at about 3:00-4:00pm, however it’s becoming pretty popular for the tour groups to head straight to the Apostles first, getting there between 10:00-11:00am. People heading directly to the Apostles from Melbourne also usually arrive from about 10:00am onwards and it’s common to still find a crowed there long after the sun goes down.

To avoid as many people as you can, aim at arriving at about 9:30am. There will still be some tourists around, but not many and then you’ll be able to get one of the best coffee’s that can be found anywhere on the Great Ocean Road when the visitor information centre opens at 10:00am.

Crowds at 12 Apostles Viewing Area

Single Day Visit versus a Multi Day Trip

We’ve met people that only want to see the 12 Apostles and don’t care for anything else, so of course it makes sense for these people to head directly to the 12 Apostles from Melbourne and then return again in one day.

It takes about three hours to get to the Apostles directly from Melbourne. Allow one-two hours to check the place out.

We suggest at least heading along the Great Ocean Road on a full day or multi-day trip . The Great Ocean Road is incredible! It starts about one and a half hours south-west of Melbourne or 25 minutes from Geelong.

Although you can drive along the entire 243 kms of the Great Ocean Road, visit the 12 Apostles and return to Melbourne in one day, there’s so much to see along the way and past the Apostles. We have taken people on nine night tours along the Great Ocean Road, into South Australia to the Limestone Coast, returning to Melbourne via the Grampians. In short, the more time, the better!

Tours to the 12 Apostles

It’s possible to do express tours to the 12 Apostles from Melbourne or Geelong. But it’s a long way to see just one of the dozens of incredible sights along the Great Ocean Road.

A 12 Apostles express tour isn’t recommend but contact us if this is what you’re after – we can take you or give you some other options on how to do this.

Typically, Great Ocean Road tours are just single day tours, which means they are long! Usually, tour groups leave Melbourne between 7:00-8:00am and return about 12 hours later. It is a good day, but you only experience a fraction of the Great Ocean Road and Otways Forest.

There’s a huge amount of variety in these tours. The most common “small group tour” is still on a 25 seat bus, which leaves people with quite a few complaints by the end of the day in regards to comfort and the lack of time spent at each destination. It is possible to book a seat on a larger coach for a bit more comfort, but the bigger the bus, the less places it can visit.

If you have the time, we strongly suggest booking an over night tour so that you can really experience the Great Ocean Road. A week could easily be spent traveling the road, so a single day tour just isn’t enough time but if that’s all you can do, it’s still definitely worth it!

BPTRV run tours for with a maximum of three passengers (unless booked well in advance so there’s time to hire a larger vehicle). Whether it be that you just have time for a one day tour or are wanting to spend several days exploring the Great Ocean Road, chat to us at [email protected] and we’ll figure out the best tour for you. Otherwise, if you want information on any other tours for whatever reason, feel free to email us as Guy has worked for a bunch of different Great Ocean Road tour operators.

Accommodation & camping near the 12 Apostles

If you’re lucky enough to be spending the night along the Great Ocean Road, staying at a hotel, hostel or camping near the 12 Apostles could be the ideal location.

Depending where you’re coming from and where you’re going, the location works well. If you’ve left Melbourne to head along the Great Ocean Road, the Apostles are almost at the end of your journey, making it a great choice for your first or second nights accommodation. On the other hand, if you’ve come from Adelaide, the Grampians or anywhere else, camping near the 12 Apostles allows you to be right at the start/end of the Great Ocean Road so that you can explore it on your way to Melbourne the following day.

There are no camp grounds or hotels at the Apostles, but a 5-10 minute drive along the Great Ocean Road in either direction will take you to small towns with loads of options.

Heading east (towards Melbourne) for 10 kms brings you to Princetown . There is some budget accommodation in the centre of Princtown called the 12 Apostles Inn or set-up your caravan or tent across the road at the Apostles Camping Park & Cabins . The camping park here is our preferred place to stay as it’s small and quiet with good, clean facilities.

If you want to camp right next to Kangaroos and hear the roar of the Southern Ocean breaking into the Gellibrand River Mouth , then head down to the Princetown Recreational Reserve where you can can camp on the oval at one of the most affordable campsites on the Great Ocean Road. There are showers and toilets here but not much else. The reason you’d chose this camp is due to the nearby wildlife and short walk to the mighty Southern Ocean, not for comfort and the facilities.

You can take part of the Great Ocean Walk and head to the 12 Apostles by foot from Princetown. It’ll take a couple of hours but the view is well worth it! Here’s some more information on Princetown .

If you’re heading to Port Campbell or further west to Warrnambool, consider staying at Choice Hotels .

Heading west from the 12 Apostles for about 11kms will take you to Port Campbell which has to be one of the most beautiful towns along the entire Great Ocean Road.

Here, there are dozens of accommodation options, from luxurious beach houses to a backpackers hostel, motels and campgrounds.

Port Campbell is the last town on the Great Ocean Road that has shops, restaurants and accommodation (although Warrnambool is much larger and only a ten minute drive west from the official end of the Great Ocean Road Allansford or it’s about one hour from the 12 Apostles). You can read more about Port Campbell here .

Looking for somewhere a bit more remote? If you’re willing to drive for another hour or so into the Great Otway National Park, back along the Great Ocean Road towards Melbourne, then you could be treated with a campsite in the rain forest at Aire Crossing or camp just behind the incredible 3.6km beach at Johnanna Beach Campground .

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Great Ocean Road & 12 Apostles, Australia | Tourism Information

The Great Ocean Road Map of Best Things To See

Page Contents

The Great Ocean Road map highlights 50 of the best attractions, recommended places to stop, and things to do on a self-drive holiday along the Victorian coast to the 12 Apostles and Port Campbell National Park. Explore the cool temperate rainforest of the Great Otway National Park, waterfalls on Great Ocean Road, best viewpoints, koalas, and wildlife.

  • Download 50 Things to do and see along the Great Ocean Road as a PDF Ebook. PLUS download the popular free ebook guide for planning self-drive itineraries for the Great Ocean Road and into the stunning Otways National Park.
  • Read our list of 20 unique, quirky, Air BnB stays along the Great Ocean Road.

Click on any of the numbers on the map of The Great Ocean Road to read all about the attraction. To enlarge the map, click the top right icon and it will open up, full screen, in a new tab. You can also use the ‘share’ icon and share it on Facebook.

50 of the Best Attractions to see – Great Ocean Road Stops

  • Melbourne – This is usually the starting point when planning an itinerary for Great Ocean Road.
  • Geelong – The second largest city in Victoria, it is about 30 mins from the beginning of the ocean road trip and worth visiting if you have time. The esplanade is a fun place for families with an old fashioned carousel, swimming pool with a high dive board, and painted bollards to giggle at. If you wanted to stay in Geelong there is plenty of good accommodation.

Torquay Caravan and Camping Parks, Great Ocean Road,Australia

  • Anglesea is a really sweet little town with safe beaches where you can learn to surf, hire a kayak or even visit kangaroos on the local golf course ( you must go to the clubhouse and book a tour of the course). You can also stay in the local caravan park and see kangaroos there! Anglesea has a wide range of accommodation options.
  • Point Addis , the beach here is just amazing! On the way down to the point, there is a walk called the ‘Koori Cultural Walk’ which is well worth doing. You can walk to a lookout point and return or continue on a number of tracks, one leads down to the beach from the lookout point.
  • Aireys Inlet is another sweet little seaside town with great beaches, surfing, cafes, and a relaxed vibe. Visit the Split Point Lighthouse which was the location of the kid’s TV show ‘Round The Twist’, follow walking trails along the cliff tops and beaches.

Memorial Arch, Great Ocean Road, Australia

  • Beach stop with parking for longer vehicles – So close to Lorne, this lovely beach has a large parking area so it is good for caravans etc. Walking tracks opposite lead up to Teddy’s Lookout and beyond. Swim, rock hop, or hike!
  • Sheoak Falls – The falls are worth stopping for as the walk is quite pretty and the views good, an 11 km loop walk leads off from here for anyone wanting to extend their hiking. Sheoak Picnic Ground , which is further inland is also a good base to do waterfall walks. Best seen in the winter or after heavy rains. Chasing waterfalls? Find more of them listed here.

Cumberland River Holiday Park Walking Tracks

  • Mt Defiance Lookout – A small car park area with good views looking along the coast and an information plaque.
  • Shipwreck Memorial – The W.B. Godfrey was built in Greenock, Scotland, and was shipwrecked at this site in 1891. Some remnants of the iron hull can still be seen at low tide. Worth stopping to read more of this fascinating history.
  • Wye River – A good beach stop to break up the journey and a popular pub with views. ‘Wye Not’  stop for a cuppa, book accommodation, camp or book a cabin overnight in the Big 4 Holiday Park. Lots of the properties here are named with a ‘wye…’ Wye Worry, Wye Up , etc…

See a koala in the wild, Kennett River

  • Cape Patton Lookout – Another good viewpoint to stop and stretch your legs after driving the winding Great Ocean Road! Fantastic views along to Apollo Bay.
  • Carisbrook Waterfall – If you fancy another stop, this waterfall is a nice walk, uphill, with some good views.  Best seen in winter/spring and after heavy rains. Find out about other waterfalls in the Otways.
  • Rocks and Cairns @ Carisbrook Creek – People started making cairns from the rocks on the beach here a few years ago and it has really caught on! After heavy seas, they tend to get knocked over, but people keep building them again. A good bit of fun, especially if you have kids in the car.

Bay on the Great Ocean Road, Australia

  • Marriners Lookout – Spectacular views over Apollo Bay and a top spot to watch the sunset, take a picnic perhaps. You can walk from Apollo Bay or drive to the car park and then walk a short way. The road is quite steep and the parking limited, but worth a visit.
  • Elliot River – If you have time, this is a nice diversion and usually a quiet area to explore. The ‘Great Ocean Walk’ which is a 7-day hike to the 12 apostles from Apollo Bay passes by here. You could even stay in Apollo Bay and do some hiking along this section of the walk.

Trees along the Maits Rest Rainforest Bush Walking Track, Cape Otway Great Ocean Road Australia

  • Aire River – There is a fab camping ground here, booked via Parks Victoria. No showers, just a long drop loo. Lovely walks, a pretty river to canoe on (byo canoe). Nearby cottages are available to rent if you want to stay awhile to relax in this area.
  • Johanna Beaches – Not ideal for swimming due to strong currents, but very popular with surfers! Camping near the dunes, this is a perfect spot if you want a bit of serenity.
  • Lavers Hill – The crossroads, turn left to continue on the Great Ocean Road (about 45 minutes to the 12 Apostles) or turn right to visit waterfalls and the Otway Fly Tree Tops Walk. There is a small choice of good accommodation if you want to make this an overnight base to visit waterfalls etc.

Triplet Waterfalls, Great Otway National Park, Australia

  • Hopetoun Falls – Just gorgeous, the walk to these falls is not very far, though it does involve steps.

Californian Redwood Forest, Binns Road, Great Ocean Road, Australia

  • Mt Sabine Waterfall – The walking track into Sabine Falls is about 2.5 hours each way. These are the highest and most remote of the waterfalls in the Great Otway National Park. Apollo Bay is a good base to stay to access some of these waterfalls. The viewing platform is a bit distant from the falls, which is disappointing, but the walk is amazing and does not usually get really busy.

Stevensons Falls, Great Ocean Road, Australia

  • Melba Gully – Another historic spot along the Ocean Road and a superb walk. If you have time, stop in an see the massive trees, follow the historic signs and, at night, you can see glow worms! Stay nearby if you want to see the glow worms at night – and take a torch to use on the track.
  • Princetown, near the 12 Apostles – Princetown is a tiny little village with some good accommodation options and cafe plus a pretty wetlands walk that is worth taking time to do if you can. There is also a camping park in the village and low-cost camping at the Princetown Recreation Reserve. Find all our camping sites along the Great Ocean Road here.
  • Information sign and lesser-known lookout – There is a small parking area with an information board here. If you follow the path a short way there is also quite a good view along the coast to the 12 Apostles.

Gibsons Beach near the Twelve Apostles in Australia

  • The Grotto – We love this spot. The Grotto is a sinkhole. The path winds down to where the ocean can be viewed through an arch.
  • Bay of Martyrs – This is an area with a sad history but very pretty. Stop in to read the information and learn more about Australian history.
  • Bay of Islands – A miniature Apostles, sort of.  Smaller limestone stacks in a sheltered bay with walking tracks along the coast and to the beaches. Local accommodation can be found in Peterborough if you plan to stay here overnight.
  • Warrnambool – Whilst visitors have now completed the Great Ocean Road trip, Warrnambool is worth visiting if you are traveling on further. During the whale watching season, there is a good viewing platform at Logan’s Beach and boat tours operate. Nearby Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve is a good spot to visit too. There are plenty of accommodation choices in Warrnambool on Booking.com. Beyond Warrnambool there is still so much more to see, Port Fairy is a beautiful little village and well worth spending time visiting too. The road trip from Melbourne to Adelaide can include Port Fairy and more coastal towns.

Great Ocean Road Walk

8 Days or so of hiking from Apollo Bay to the 12 Apostles following the coastline with views and experiences not possible by car or bus. Spectacular and diverse scenery, wildlife, byo tent or book accommodation along the way. This is one of Victoria’s best bush and ocean walks. Find out more and plan your adventure.

Walk 91 provides assistance to plan your walk along the GOR Walk, either with luxurious accommodation and meals provided or the budge self-catering option. Find out more…

Activities and Attractions on the Great Ocean Road

Along with so many natural attractions to experience, the Ocean Road also has activities to keep visitors on a self-drive tour busy for days. Ziplining, surfing, horse riding, canoes, and kayaking, to name a few…

  • Live Wire Park Ziplines, tree climbing course, and fun!
  • Health and Hire, (HAH) Lorne Beach. A super little ‘Gourmet Sustainable Cafe’ and the spot to hire a bike, surfboard, SUP (stand up paddleboarding) etc.
  • Lorne Seabaths, Gym, inground Trampolines for kids, and more.
  • Read more about what to see and do in Lorne for a weekend escape.
  • Otways Trees Adventure Park
  • Otway Fly – Tree Top Walk and Zip Lining
  • Read more about The Great Otway National Park

Helicopter Joy Rides

  • Scenic  helicopter  flights leave from near the 12 Apostles visitor center behind the car park.
  • Or how about a flight from  Apollo Bay?  These trips follow the coast, passing the Cape OtwayLight Station and parts of the coast that you can’t see or access from the road. Apollo Bay Aviation provides a variety of trips,  read more on their website.
  • Helicopter Tour from Melbourne! Well, this is one way to experience The Ocean Road in a day.  Helicopter Tours   operate out of Melbourne, offering a few different choices including a flight to the Twelve Apostles for lunch and then down to Phillip Island to see the Little Penguins come ashore. Landing by the 12 Apostles so passengers can take in the most famous section of the Ocean Road and enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch – Proposals… Anniversaries… Just because you want to…

Surf Lessons

Go-Ride a Wave! Surf lessons can be booked in Lorne, Anglesea, Torquay, and Ocean Grove.

Boat and Kayak Tours or Hire

  • Anglesea paddle boat and canoe hire.
  • Apollo Bay Surf, Stand Up Paddle Boarding & Kayak – Learn to Surf, Kayak to a Seal Colony, Bike and Walk the Otways.
  • GORATS (Great Ocean Road Adventure Tours)- Personalised tours by bike or paddling down rivers.

Horse Riding

Blazing Saddles Trail Rides, Aireys Inlet. Fabulous horse riding through the forest or down along a long golden beach. We love this place and even bought one of their horses a few years ago!

Gourmet Food Trail

  • Apostle Whey Cheese – Cooriemungle (near Port Campbell)
  • Berry World – Timboon
  • Farm Fudge – Timboon Colac Road Jancourt East
  • Gorge Chocolates – Cooriemungle
  • Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie – Bellbrae
  • Otway Blueberries – Gellibrand
  • The Place of Wonder – Port Campbell Rd, Newfield
  • Timboon Fine Icecream – Timboon

Micro Breweries & Great Pubs

  • Bells Beach Brewing – Torquay
  • Blackmans Brewery Bar – Torquay
  • Forrest Brewing Company – Forrest
  • Great Ocean Road Brewhouse – Apollo Bay
  • Otway Estate Brewery – Prickly Moses Beer – Barongarook
  • Salt Brewing Company / Rogue Wave Brewing- Aireys Inlet
  • Sow & Piglets Brewery – Port Campbell
  • Timboon Distillery – Timboon
  • Wye Beach Hotel – Wye River, Craft Beer on Tap
  • ANDY’S TRAILS – Beer, Wine, and Gourmet Food Tours. A safe option to take if you want to get the most out of a microbrewery tour experience.

Great Ocean Road Bus Tours

If you want to get the most of a day trip down the Great Ocean Road but do not want to self-drive, a bus tour will be the perfect option. We can recommend a number of excellent companies who all use smaller buses which means more time at stops and more personalized experience. Find out more here.

Heading Onwards

Many travelers continue on to Warrnambool and Adelaide or up to the Grampian Mountains while others are returning to Melbourne. Find good prices and choices of accommodation:

  • Warrnambool Accommodation
  • The Grampian Mountains and Halls Gap
  • Adelaide Accommodation
  • Melbourne Accommodation

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Things to see & do between Melbourne and the 12 Apostles

The epic road trip from Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road to the 12 Apostles features breathtaking scenery, vibrant seaside villages and inland treasures.

This four-day itinerary includes the Surf Coast towns of Torquay, Anglesea, Aireys Inlet and Lorne; then to Apollo Bay, The Otways and Port Campbell, and inland to the not to be missed volcanic plains of Camperdown and Colac.

12 apostles places to visit

Melbourne to Torquay, Anglesea, Aireys Inlet & Lorne

Find accommodation, things to do.

Pick a couple of stops, or strap yourself in for a big day of exploring the Surf Coast towns and hamlets, each with its own unique features and bucket-loads of interesting things to see and do.

Surf and Shop at Torquay

Torquay, the Surf Coast’s hottest ‘surfie’ town, has a great surfing vibe with surf shops and outlets galore. There is also boutique shopping, a variety of eateries, a day spa and the trailhead of the Surf Coast Walk . Stroll along Torquay’s esplanade, swim at Front Beach, enjoy the views from Point Danger Lookout and improve your surfing technique with a surf lesson . Alternatively, just pamper yourself with a spa treatment at RACV Torquay One Spa .

12 apostles places to visit

Action and Relaxation at Anglesea

Next stop is the town of Anglesea, where the Great Ocean Road meets the spectacular coastline. The huge expanse of white sandy beach at the mouth of the Anglesea River makes Anglesea perfect for beachgoers.

Once again, activity choices are numerous. Hire a paddle boat or a canoe to explore the Anglesea River, take a surf lesson , hike a section of the Surf Coast Walk and take in the majestic views of the jagged limestone cliffs at Point Addis Lookout.

For a change of pace, relax at Anglesea’s Lux Spa & Wellness  and choose from a range of rejuvenating treatments.

12 apostles places to visit

Outdoor Attractions at Aireys Inlet

It’s only a ten-minute drive along the scenic, winding Great Ocean Road to Aireys Inlet. Here, the Great Otway National Park almost meets the ocean and Fairhaven Beach, the longest in the area, stretches six kilometres along the coastline.

Don’t miss stopping at Split Point Lighthouse , standing 34 metres tall. This landmark is open for visitors and the nearby Lighthouse Tea Rooms are the perfect spot to enjoy a Devonshire tea, coffee and scones.

12 apostles places to visit

Stay by the Seaside at Lorne

Last stop for the day is the very popular seaside town of Lorne, where holidaymakers have been spending their summers for a century. Hit the beach for some ‘Vitamin Sea’, stroll out onto the Lorne Pier, enjoy the majestic coastal (and very Instagrammable) views from Teddy’s Lookout, or wander the main street brimming with boutique gift stores, cafes and galleries.

Just 10 kilometres away is Erskine Falls , the closest waterfall in the Otways, with water cascading down into a gorgeous ferny valley. Nearby are the pretty Kalimna Falls where the water trickles over a rocky ledge. For the thrillseekers, get amongst some adventure-filled fun at Live Wire Park set amongst the treetops of the Otways. Try the 525-metre Shockwave Zipcoaster, Super Circuit ropes course, Short Circuit ropes course, Canopy Circuit walk or the Spring Circuit trampolines.

After a day of outdoor adventure, return to Lorne for a sundowner at the local Lorne Hotel with its stunning coastal views, then try one of Lorne’s great dining options.

Surf or shop at Torquay

Paddle the Anglesea River or relax at Lux Spa & Wellness

Climb Split Point Lighthouse and grab a coffee after

Check out some waterfalls and hit Live Wire Park in Lorne

12 apostles places to visit

Apollo Bay and The Otways

The 45-minute drive from Lorne to Apollo Bay along the Great Ocean Road reveals some of the most spectacular scenery along the route. There are plenty of viewpoints where you can stop, including cliff top views and lookouts at Cumberland River, Mount Defiance, Wye River, and Cape Patton.

Wye River and Kennett River

Stop by the small town of Wye River and walk the one-kilometre stretch of sandy beach bordered by dramatic cliffs that links the town to Separation Creek.

Don’t miss the Great Ocean Road Koala Walk at Kennett River–one of the best places in Australia to spot cute koalas in the wild. Along the trail you may also spot a variety of colourful birds, including cockatoos, king parrots, eastern rosellas, and kookaburras.

12 apostles places to visit

Scenery and Seafood at Apollo Bay

After enjoying the incredible scenery from Lorne to Apollo Bay, stop for a well-earned lunch. Apollo Bay is the home of the freshest seafood on the coast. Who doesn’t enjoy salty fish and chips served in paper? You could also splurge on grilled lobster, or a box of 20 cooked prawns from the Fisherman’s Co-op .

Walk off lunch on a section of the 110-kilometre-long Great Ocean Walk that continues from Apollo Bay to the 12 Apostles–the dramatic coastal vistas are awe-inspiring.

12 apostles places to visit

The Great Otway National Park

Spend the afternoon exploring the nearby Great Otway National Park . Choose from Cape Otway and its historical lighthouse with stunning views from the balcony; a rainforest walk in the national park with wildlife and beautiful waterfalls; a treetop eco-adventure at Otway Fly Treetop Adventures ; or a guided wildlife tour with a local wildlife expert.

In the heart of the Otways at Beech Forest check out the giant Californian Redwoods , planted here in 1939. Hike to a couple of nearby waterfalls, such as Carisbrooke Falls, Hopetoun Falls or the extraordinary 20-metre-high Beauchamp Falls, just outside Beech Forest.

Stop and spot some wildlife at Wye River & Kennett River

Try part of the Great Ocean Walk from Apollo Bay then grab a bite from The Fisherman’s Co-op

Spend some time in the Otways checking out waterfalls , the Redwoods and Cape Otway Lightstation

12 apostles places to visit

Port Campbell & the 12 Apostles

The Great Ocean Road detours inland on the 47-kilometre-long stretch from Apollo Bay to Lavers Hill, the highest point on the road. Lavers Hill is surrounded by the Great Otways National Park and is the ideal place to stop for a morning coffee before continuing to the 12 Apostles.

The 12 Apostles and Gibsons Steps

The Great Ocean Road curves back to the coastline as you continue towards the town of Princetown, gateway to the 12 Apostles.

Grab a map from the Port Campbell Visitor Information Centre (along with a stack of other handy hints from the friendly team) and take the walking paths to the viewing platforms overlooking these remarkable natural wonders carved from limestone by the Southern Ocean.

Don’t miss the incredible Gibson Steps–take the 86 steps down to the beach, where you will be dwarfed by the 70-metre-high vertical cliffs. Nearby are two towering rock stacks known as Gog and Magog.

12 apostles places to visit

Other Shipwreck Coast Attractions

Only minutes away by car from the 12 Apostles is the tear-shaped chasm of Loch Ard Gorge. The road continues past the town of Port Campbell to more of the Shipwreck Coast’s natural treasures at London Bridge and The Grotto.

For a bird’s eye view of the 12 Apostles and the coastline, take a tour with 12 Apostles Helicopters .

Afterwards, return to Port Campbell for the night. This vibrant seaside town on the picturesque and sheltered Port Campbell Bay is the perfect place to rest after a long day of activities.

Time to see the 12 Apostles and don’t forget nearby Gibson Steps which is equally as stunning

And spend some time at Loch Ard Gorge, The Grotto, and London Bridge to name a few more

12 apostles places to visit

Camperdown, Colac and Return to Melbourne

On the last day of your four day Great Ocean Road trip, head inland towards the volcanic lakes and plains surrounding Camperdown and Colac.

Volcanic Plains and Rock Formations at Camperdown

Located on the world’s third-largest volcanic plain and surrounded by large salt and freshwater lakes, Camperdown with its beautiful elm-lined main street and impressive clock tower is a great place to stop.

Stroll through the delightful Camperdown Botanic Gardens, an ideal spot for a picnic or BBQ lunch. Climb the lookout for magnificent views over the twin crater lakes of Lake Bullen Merri and Lake Gnotuk.

12 apostles places to visit

Noorat Stone Walls

Along the Princes Highway from Camperdown to neighbouring towns such as Noorat, you will see remnants of stone walls built in the 1800s. An attempt to keep rabbits out of farmland, as well as clearing the fields of prolific volcanic stones, the dry stone walls stretch for 3,000 kilometres.

12 apostles places to visit

Mount Elephant Extinct Volcano

Located one kilometre west of the township of Derrinallum, and 37 kilometres west of Camperdown, is the extinct volcano of Mount Elephant that erupted 180,000 years ago. Walk the 3.4-kilometre-long track up to the summit and around the crater rim of Mount Elephant for magical views.

12 apostles places to visit

Lakes and Lookouts at Colac

Before heading back to Melbourne, stop at the city of Colac on the shores of Lake Colac, the largest freshwater lake in Victoria.

Take a drive 17 kilometres north-west to the nearby Red Rock scenic lookout. The Red Rock Volcanic Complex is the youngest volcano in the area and the site of countless volcanic blasts that took place 8,000 years ago.

What an amazing place to think about how the landscapes here were formed by volcanic activity thousands of years ago!

Check out Camperdown in the Volcanic Lakes & Plains

Stop to wonder at the Noorat Stone Walls

Climb (if you dare!) the extinct volcano, Mount Elephant

Relax in Colac at the lake before heading home

So much to see and do on the Great Ocean Road

It is impossible to take a Great Ocean Road trip and see everything in just one day–so slow down, take your time, and explore all the nooks and crannies along the way. There’s so much more to see than just the 12 Apostles!

Plan your next Great Ocean Road trip so you can get off the beaten track and find some of its hidden gems. For loads of inspiration and road trip itineraries, where all the planning has already been done for you, head to Great Ocean Road Itineraries.

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The 12 Apostles – are they really worth a visit?

The 12 Apostles is probably one of the biggest natural tourist attractions in Australia (besides Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef) and a must see for every tourist along the great ocean road but is it really worth a visit?

Also check out Our Top 10 things to see and do on the Great Ocean Road (mostly free!) – This list also includes places to stay along the Great Ocean Road.

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Our Top 10 things to see and do on the Great Ocean Road (mostly free!)

Firstly tourists need to realise that there are no longer 12 apostles, due to erosion there are approx. only 8 “Apostles” left and from the main viewing point you can only see about 5 of them as the rest are scattered along the coast and are out of site from the main view area.

The best way to see all of the apostles is by helicopter however this is also the most expensive way to see them at a cost of $99 – $150 for only an 8 minute flight.

The viewing area was constructed by tourism Victoria and the national parks; they also built a large car park for all the tourist buses and cars, this makes it very easy to find a park. The visitors centre features a café, an information centre and public toilets.

A short walk away from the visitors centre is the first viewing platform of the 12 apostles.  All of these platforms are very well constructed and are situated in good a spot which offers large areas for tourists to take photos without having to be shoulder to shoulder, pushing and shoving to try and get to the front of the crowd for a good photo.

With that said we did go in winter –July- so it is possibly much busier on a summer’s day.

If you continue along the platform you are taken to another vantage point which is built out on top of a small bluff, it gives you a great view of the coast line. This area is a little smaller and a little more crowded with lots of people rushing to get into good photo spots.

Our Top 10 things to see and do on the Great Ocean Road (mostly free!)

Quick tip: Don’t forget to get your photo taken at the 12 apostles, don’t be a travel snob and think that is “too touristy” – You’re at the 12 Apostles!!

For some people this is a once in a lifetime experience! If you see a couple trying to take a “selfie”, please stop and offer to take a photo for them and they will most likely offer to do the same for you, if not there are always plenty of people around so I’m sure that someone will help out with a photo.

In conclusion “are the 12 Apostles really worth a visit”? Yes, yes they are! If you’ve travelled all the way to Melbourne and have the time (or make the time) take a day trip and see them or better yet plan to drive from Melbourne to Adelaide and take in ALL that the Great Ocean Road has to offer!

Samantha King

Sam, a seasoned traveler across four continents and 49 countries, is a leading authority in travel planning. Her website, Travelling King, offers tailored itineraries and expert guides for seamless trips. Sam's expertise in luxury travel, fast travel, and destination guides keeps her at the forefront of the travel community.

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43 Comments

Thanks Luke! It was a little cold and rainy but that is winter for you haha!

I agree! The 12 (or 8) Apostles are definitely worth a visit 🙂 The Great Ocean Road is a fabulous Australian Road Trip with so many interesting stops along the way, and the view… breathtaking!

Hey Gina! the GOR road trip is a must! had a fantastic time – although i think i would have preferred to do it in summer! Was a little chilly!

I am currently planning a trip to Australia for next year so I have added this to my list as a must visit! Thanks for sharing 🙂

I agree – definitely worth a visit! I have been many times, as I take people who visit us in Melbourne from elsewhere. They always enjoy it and so do I 🙂 We have actually never had problems taking photos or found it crowded, so perhaps you were just unlcuky? I haven’t been in a couple of years though, so perhaps it has become more popular.

I feel like this is one of those sights that is just there to make a picture and then get out of the way. I always like to sit somewhere (on a rock preferably) and start dreaming away, thinking about what I´m seeing, taking my time. Of course I´ll take a photo but I´m not the typical tourist who takes a photo and then leaves to see another side of the attraction… However, I´m afraid that is not possible at the 12 apostles. Still I´d like to see them when I´m there and hopefully find a place where me and my musings can be alone for some time =)

I feel so bad now that I haven’t even got myself there yet! (And I’m Australian) I’ll definitely make the effort now!

Hey Sharon, It wasnt “that” crowded the day we went but there was a bit of a crowd – i cant imagine what it would be like in summer or full tourist season. I would say there would have easily been over 100 people when we were there

Hey Tam! That’s ok – hope you enjoy your trip down under 🙂

Talk about timing – I just went there yesterday afternoon and this morning!! I was a bit unlucky with the weather as it was extremely windy and not sunny. In fact my pictures look just like yours! A few good spots to also see are just outside of Port Campbell.

It definitely is a beautiful part of the country along the whole Great Ocean Road. Some of the little towns are worth a visit too.

As I started reading your post, with a question you’ve asked in the mind, just seeing that first photo made me think: Hell yes, it’s worth to visit! Sad that the Apostles are disappearing – and since there are no longer 12 of them, I wonder if they should change the name of the site – kidding 🙂

We were also there at the end of winter, in a quite stormy weekend, and there were not many people. Twelve apostles or less it is an amazing natural landmark with stunning views. I agree with you, it is more than worth visiting them!!

I wouldn’t miss that – it looks gorgeous! Hopefully it won’t keep continuing each year and go down to 6 apostles…5 apostles.. that would be sad. I’d love to see that from helicopter but that’s a bit out of my budget!

How long ago were there 12 apostles? And… perhaps more to the point, how long (in your geologically professional opinion) will those last 8 continue to stand? Looks beautiful… though, I’ll be trying to pick a somewhat warmer day to go see them perhaps 😉

I don’t think I would pay $150 for an 8 minute plane ride. As cool as that would be, I just don’t think it would be worth it in my opinion. However, I would like to see the 12 Apostles from the viewing platform. Australia is somewhere that I would love to travel one day. 🙂

Of course they are worth the visit! At least that’s what they look like after reading your review of them. This landscape and scenery really reminds me of the Needles off the Isle of Wight coast in England (probably not as famous as the 12 Apostles but equally as impressive).

We love taking scenic drives along coastlines and this looks like the perfect spot to take an adventurous road trip whilst taking in some amazing landscape. We are considering heading back to Oz at the end of 2014 so maybe we will have time to taken in this awesome attraction.

Brrrrr, you guys looked cold. But what a view huh! As an Aussie who has STILL never seen these, I am so glad to read about it, it’s on my list.

This looks gorgeous! I’d love to go 🙂 It’s definitely going on my list for Australia!

Slack!!! that said I have been here for 14 years and have only just gotten around to seeing them 🙂

make the time – they are worth it 😉

NOt a problem Tam – enjoy yourself!

Hey Milene there are places to sit and relax and take in the view – maybe not secluded spots but nice spots 🙂

hey Michele! Very true – Port Fairy, Campbell town, Torquay are all beautiful places!

hey Frank! Very good point – i guess they will always be the 12 apostles -even when there is only one

hey Gabor! Thanks! I think seeing the 12 Apostles during any season is good – They are beautiful in any light!

Hey Marie-Carmen. Interesting thought – have seen a few photos of beautiful cliffs in Ireland – would love to visit one day!! yes sadly they disappear by (from memory) 2cm per year.

Hey Samantha! i dont think we will loose too many more any-time soon – i think from memory they erode by about 2 cm every year.

Hey Jonny, No idea to both your questions – cant say im an expert 😛 I have heard they recede by 2cm every year so who knows how long they will last?

Hey Kelly, I agree $150 for an 8 min flight is pretttty expensive! I wish it was cheaper – would love to see them from the air!

Hey Chris! the Great Ocean Road is a beautiful coastal road – fantastic scenery all the way! Its so nice to see the 12 Apostles in “real life” instead of in a picture

I’m not really a big fan of cliffs and rock formations but I really think that the name and the setting of the 12 Apostles make it worth visiting 😀

Hey! It was pretty chilly but we had lots of llayers on and a waterproof jacket so we were toasty warm 🙂 Come back and see them sometime 🙂 Lists are hard – they grow too often!

Hey Ashley, Should “pop” past on your SEA trip!

Great post – really makes me want to go! Sometimes it’s awesome to just embrace being a tourist 🙂

Glad you mentioned the Ocean Road at the end because I was going to ask if there is a good coastline road trip you could suggest. 🙂

Hey Silvia. Its always one of those places “to see” on people’s bucket list. and its fun to embrace your tourist side – nothing wrong with it

Oh yes the Great Ocean road is certainly a good coastline trip!

Helicopter tour sounds like sth I would enjoy! And I would love to see the sight, generally I would love to visit Australia!

I wish i had taken the Helicopter tour now, but give the time you are in the air compared to the price of the flight – not sure if it was worth it!

For me, just because there were so many tourists there, I preferred other places along the Great Ocean Road. They are some really amazing rock formations though, so if you can schedule your visit to not be at a peak time then it’s definitely worth it!

I love the views along the great ocean road, it is an awesome drive along the coastline. My next visit to Melbourne is in November so am hoping the family will take me to vist the 12 Apostles again. The lookouts are so well positioned and historical stories of the different spots make it all so interesting.

Great post. I was there in summer and at sunset. It was pretty packed, but still great fun. If you fancy reading about it, check it out here

There’s never been ’12’. The name was applied to the stacks in the middle of last century (from memory), when it was decided to change their name from the ‘Sow and Piglets’ (a little hard to market that…) to simply ‘The Apostles’. Somewhere along the way someone’s whacked ’12’ in front of that, which is their contemporary name. (Get the good oil about all that from John McInerny from Port Campbell Touring Company. He’s a local legend around the coastline. What he doesn’t know about them has yet to be discovered).

And they’ll be around for hundreds of years yet – no need to worry about them collapsing into the ocean in our lifetimes.

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A brand-new lookout has just opened to visitors at the 12 Apostles, with stunning views of the landmark

This new lookout is the first of several big upgrades for the popular tourist attraction

Liv Condous

The area surrounding the 12 Apostles is undergoing a big glow-up, and now the first new addition to the site is ready for visitors. 

A new $9.2 million viewing platform has just opened, situated near Princetown along the Great Ocean Road , offering a new vantage point for marvelling at the majestic 12 Apostles. 

Saddle Lookout is part of the first stage of the Shipwreck Coast master plan project, which is a massive makeover of a large portion of the Great Ocean Road coastline. It aims to support increasing visitor numbers by improving safety and accessibility, and all the upgrades are expected to be finished next year. 

A viewing platform overlooking the ocean.

The new lookout’s design was planned in consultation with the Traditional Owners of the area, the Eastern Maar community, to resemble traditional Aboriginal instruments called clapsticks. The colours used in the design represent the totemic birds of the Eastern Maar peoples, the sulphur-crested cockatoo and the red-tailed black cockatoo. 

Just down the road, a second new lookout is also being constructed at The Blowhole landmark. This huge, sculptural viewing site is expected to be completed next year. Once both lookouts are good to go, work will begin on a massive redevelopment of the 12 Apostles tourist site, which will gain a shiny new tourist hub. 

The famed limestone stacks continue to amaze visitors, consistently drawing in crowds from far and wide. So this new infrastructure should make a trip to the historic landmark a less crowded and overall better experience. Not to mention, the 12 Apostles area has also been earmarked for a swanky new hot springs , so visitors will be able to unwind after sightseeing, too. 

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COMMENTS

  1. Travel guide to the 12 Apostles

    Arrive at the 12 Apostles at a walker's pace. From Princetown it is a 7km (4mi) moderate walk on boardwalk, crushed gravel, steps, and rubber tiles. Savour stunning coastal views and look for kangaroos and birdlife. If you're keen to enjoy a longer walk, do the four-day 12 Apostles Lodge Walk with superb eco-retreat accommodation or take on the ...

  2. 12 Apostles

    The best time to visit the Great Ocean Road and the 12 Apostles is October, November, and February until May. During the Christmas Holidays, from mid-December until late January, the 12 Apostles are heavily overrun. ... 7 Things to Do at the 12 Apostles - Port Campbell National Park. Of course, there is even more, to see and do around the 12 ...

  3. The 12 Apostles

    The 12 Apostles are 275 kilometres from Melbourne, so about a 4-hour drive along the Great Ocean Road. This leg has SO much to see, that you would be crazy to miss what the Surf Coast, Apollo Bay and the Otways have to offer along the way. So instead of visiting on a rushed eight-hour round trip-not including breaks and sightseeing stops ...

  4. The Ultimate Guide to the Stunning Twelve Apostles, Victoria

    BEST TIME OF DAY TO VISIT THE TWELVE APOSTLES. It starts to get pretty busy at the Twelve Apostles from mid-morning and continues to get busier through the mid-afternoon until sunset - mostly due to day tours from Melbourne. While a few (like this day trip) have begun travelling the route in reverse, most day tours depart from Melbourne around ...

  5. The Ultimate Guide to Visiting the Twelve Apostles in 2024

    The vast majority of people arrive at the 12 Apostles in the early afternoon. Yes, between midday and 3 p.m. is when a chaotic blend of tour groups and day trippers arrive from Melbourne. The crowds can be intense. And what that means is that you're going to be seeing the Twelve Apostles at the worst possible time.

  6. Twelve Apostles

    The Twelve Apostles is a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road. There is a more direct route along the Princes Highway via Colac that takes three hours. The Twelve Apostles is a 10-minute drive from Port Campbell, where there are accommodation options and places to eat. Twelve Apostles.

  7. Exploring The Iconic Twelve Apostles: A Complete Guide

    The Twelve Apostles truly are a must-see destination that will forever remain etched in your heart. In conclusion, the Twelve Apostles along the Great Ocean Road are a testament to the power and beauty of nature. The awe-inspiring coastal views, unique rock formations, and cultural significance make this location a must-visit for any nature ...

  8. Your Guide to Visiting the Twelve Apostles Australia

    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.

  9. 12 Apostles

    The 12 Apostles are located 275 kilometres west of Melbourne - approximately a four-hour drive along the Great Ocean Road. Experience the Best of the Shipwreck Coast in Less Time.Steeped in history with fascinating stories of exploration dating back 150+ years, this Express... The 12 Apostles Air Adventure flight is a spectacular scenic ...

  10. The Twelve Apostles in Australia

    The 12 Apostles are located within the Port Campbell National Park, Victoria. The distance from Melbourne: 227.5 km / 2 hours 50 minutes on the fastest possible route or 277 km / 4 hours 25 minutes on the scenic coastal drive (definitely the best option). These times are driving only, without any stops.

  11. 12 Apostles Viewing Platforms

    A visit to the Twelve Apostles begins at the Twelve Apostles Visitor Centre. The parking area is designed to cater for the 1.2 million visitors annually that enjoy the site. A tunnel takes people under the Great Ocean Road to extensive boardwalk and viewing platforms.

  12. 12 Apostles Travel Guide

    The majority of the tour companies and tourists traveling in their own cars will go via the Great Ocean Road and arrive at the 12 Apostles at about 3:00-4:00pm, however it's becoming pretty popular for the tour groups to head straight to the Apostles first, getting there between 10:00-11:00am.

  13. TWELVE APOSTLES: All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

    The Twelve Apostles are one of the great sights of the Southern Coast. The Great Coast is the place to see this Great Ocean Road. The waves crash and smash and the Twelve Apostles stand firm against the waves of the Southern Ocean. Be sure to see the Twelve Apostles, they may not be there forever.

  14. Complete Road Trip Guide & Holiday Planner

    The Great Ocean Road map highlights 50 of the best attractions, recommended places to stop, and things to do on a self-drive holiday along the Victorian coast to the 12 Apostles and Port Campbell National Park. Explore the cool temperate rainforest of the Great Otway National Park, waterfalls on Great Ocean Road, best viewpoints, koalas, and wildlife.

  15. 12 Apostles Day Trip

    The 12 Apostles. One of the most well-known highlights of the Great Ocean Road is the 12 Apostles. Situated in the Port Campbell National Park, a 12 Apostles day trip enables you to see the massive limestone structures that tower 45 metres above the tempestuous Southern Ocean — a spot which always leaves visitors in awe at its size and beauty.

  16. Find out more about the 12 Apostles Coast & Hinterland of the Great

    Top Tourism Town Awards. Timboon is a finalist in the TAC Victorian Top Tourism Town Awards for 2024! Let's vote to crown Timboon as the ultimate Top Tiny Tourism Town. But that's not all! Our wonderful region has more stars in the running, Koroit as the Top Small Tourism Town and Warrnambool as the Top Tourism Town. VOTE NOW.

  17. From Melbourne to the 12 Apostles

    Port Campbell & the 12 Apostles. The Great Ocean Road detours inland on the 47-kilometre-long stretch from Apollo Bay to Lavers Hill, the highest point on the road. Lavers Hill is surrounded by the Great Otways National Park and is the ideal place to stop for a morning coffee before continuing to the 12 Apostles.

  18. The 12 Apostles

    The 12 Apostles is probably one of the biggest natural tourist attractions in Australia (besides Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef) and a must see for every tourist along the great ocean road but is it really worth a visit?. Also check out Our Top 10 things to see and do on the Great Ocean Road (mostly free!) - This list also includes places to stay along the Great Ocean Road.

  19. Twelve Apostles lookout opens up new views

    Victoria's world-famous Twelve Apostles are ready to welcome millions of visitors to a new experience following completion of a spectacular viewing platform overlooking the iconic rock formations. With wide paths and accessible viewing areas, the lookout opens up new views of the stunning coastline here on Keerray Woorroong Country.

  20. THE 10 BEST Things to Do Near Twelve Apostles

    Gibsons Steps. 347 Reviews. Great Ocean Road Port Campbell National Park, Port Campbell, Victoria 3269 Australia. Experiences from AU$118. See 38 Experiences. The Arch. 152 Reviews. Great Ocean Road, Port Campbell, Victoria 3269 Australia. Island Arch Lookout.

  21. A new lookout with stunning views has just opened at the 12 Apostles

    The area surrounding the 12 Apostles is undergoing a big glow-up, and now the first new addition to the site is ready for visitors. A new $9.2 million viewing platform has just opened, situated ...

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    Cities near Elektrostal. Places of interest. Pavlovskiy Posad Noginsk. Travel guide resource for your visit to Elektrostal. Discover the best of Elektrostal so you can plan your trip right.