The 12 Apostles – Discovering Australia’s Limestone Marvels

The 12 Apostles – Discovering Australia’s Limestone Marvels

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 03/22/2017

Reading time: 3 mins

Australia’s entire coastline is laced with excellent roads and scenic drives that allow you to explore both land and water from the comfort of your vehicle.

While there may be many to choose from, The Great Ocean Road along Victoria’s south coast is undoubtedly the country’s most picturesque drive. Cruising along the gently undulating roads you will enjoy a self-driven tour of some of the world’s most fascinating sights and beautiful beaches.

The 12 Apostles is one of the Great Ocean Road’s most popular stops with about 1.7 million annual visitors. Estimated to be at least 60 000 years old, these incredible limestone stacks have withstood the test of time. These pillars would have been part of the mainland as far back as 10-20 million years ago, making their tenacity in the face of Victoria’s unrelenting ocean remarkable.

While this may not be the only place along the country’s coast that you can view pillars of such beauty, it’s their proximity to one another that makes them so famous. This particular area of the shoreline is known as shipwreck coast because of the numerous ships that have met their watery end in this bay. This means that a visit to the 12 Apostles will also allow you to view Shipwreck Coast in its entirety.

Though they may be called the 12 Apostles, this name can actually be somewhat misleading. There are only 8 pillars left standing, with the 9th, and tallest, having collapsed in early July 2005. These mesmerising limestone pillars measure up to 45 m in height and grace Victoria’s windswept coastline with their resilience against the might of the ocean waves. The Apostles and the nearby cliff faces are eroding at a rate of 2cm each year.

While this may mean that we can expect more of these pillars to collapse, we can also look forward to a number of new apostles being created by the constant erosion of the land. If you take a closer look at the pillars, you will notice that they are made up of many different layers of limestone. Each of these layers has a slightly different density, which explains why some are much thinner than others, being more susceptible to the process of erosion.

Many people begin their journey along the Great Ocean Road in Melbourne, which is a total of 275km, or a 4-hour drive, east of the 12 Apostles. What this means for your tour is that you will have the chance to see many of the Great Ocean Road’s other attractions before you end your day viewing the golden-orange sunset between the 8 remaining Apostles. Once you’ve had your fill of this incredible view, you will also have the chance to explore the Port Campbell National Park which is just inland from the 12 Apostles.

Of all the epic road trips around the world, the Great Ocean Road stands out as being one of the very best. You’ll come home from the tour with a number of excellent photographs to ensure your visit was an unforgettable one. After a plethora of exciting stops along the road, what better way to end the day than with a peaceful sunset overlooking Victoria’s 12 Apostles?

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.

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