Stretching 243km along the southern coast of Victoria, Australia, sits one of the most spectacular road trips in the world. Between the years of 1919 and 1932, the Great Ocean Road was built in memory of the soldiers who did not return home from the First World War. This natural shrine of remembrance has some of the most beautiful sights in Australia, perfect for a two day Great Ocean Road trip. With golden beaches, crashing waves and towering cliffs just waiting to be discovered, this is not a route to be missed. One of the most impressive of these sights is none other than the Twelve Apostles sea columns. This is your ultimate guide to the 12 Apostles in Victoria, Australia, including everything you need to know about this incredible part of the world.   Twelve Apostles pinterest image     Listed below are some of the main points discussed in this guide. We will explore each of these in greater detail later on in the article.
  • What are the 12 Apostles?
  • How to Get to the 12 Apostles
  • When is the Best Time to Visit the Twelve Apostles
  • What You Will Find at the 12 Apostles
  • Other Sights Along the Great Ocean Road
  • How to Prepare for the Great Ocean Road
 

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The Twelve Apostles – The Complete Guide

 

What are the Twelve Apostles?

The Twelve Apostles are a natural wonder of Australia, consisting of a group of limestone sea columns off the shore of southern Victoria. At one point in its life, the 12 Apostles had a total of nine stacks, however, in 2005 one collapsed during a storm and one other collapsed at an unknown date, leaving only seven columns today. The columns are believed to have been previously known as the Sow and Piglets, however, local folklore states that they were believed to exude such awe and power that they received their biblical name, the Twelve Apostles. This is reflected by the way visitors can stand and stare at the sea columns immensity for hours and hours. As with most things in nature, these incredible stacks will not last forever. One day, the last of the Twelve Apostles will tumble once more to the ground and rest beneath the waves. This may happen tomorrow or it may happen in 1000 years, however, it is up to you to make sure you see them before they disappear.  
Sunset over the twelve apostles
A golden sky over the stunning natural wonder of the 12 Apostles.
   

Also Read – Great Ocean Road Itinerary -Two Days Along the Coast

   

How to Get to the Twelve Apostles

The Twelve Apostles can be found along the winding route of Victoria’s southern coast. The 243km Great Ocean Road trip features countless beautiful sights and stunning coastal views, just one of which being the 12 Apostles. Situated near the end of the route, the 12 Apostles are one of the most famous spots of this route. These sea columns can be found just 11km from the quaint town of Port Campbell. To get to this beautiful, natural phenomenon, you have a few choices of transport. The most popular option for tourists and visitors to Adelaide and Melbourne is to enjoy an organised tour from the city centre. Other options are to either rent a car or campervan and tour this route at your own pace, or better yet, buy a campervan and incorporate this road trip into your epic Australian adventure.  

Organised Tours of the Great Ocean Road

The easiest, most popular and most expensive option for viewing the 12 Apostles is to join a group or private tour from Melbourne or Adelaide. These tours tend to be in the form of a one day or two-day tour and show you all of the most popular sights along the Great Ocean Road. The downside of this option is the rushed experience you may get, as you try to race from point to point and see as much as you can. Even the 2-day tours do not promise a more relaxed pace, as they tend to cram in more sights to maximise your experience of this route. If you simply want to see these sights for yourself and are up for a busy day filled with adventure, these Great Ocean Road tours are perfect for you. They offer a stress-free, follow-the-leader experience, where all you will need to do is show up and be amazed. Most even include food and drink, so you don’t need to worry about a thing. Browse a full list of the tours available here.
 

Hiring a Vehicle to Self-Drive the Great Ocean Road

The next most popular method of viewing the 12 Apostles is to rent a car or a campervan and tour the Great Ocean Road the way YOU want to. This means a more relaxed pace for the road trip and also gives you the freedom of when you want to see each sight, which will play a key part in your experience, as we discuss later on.   Car and Van Rentals The most popular way of renting a car from Melbourne or Adelaide is with Europcar rentals. These guys provide cheap and reliable rental vehicles of all shapes and sizes, perfect for a weekend trip away. If you do decide to rent a car or van, we recommend you rent for 48hrs to make the most of your time on the road. The rental offices will not open until 9am, which means you will not be able to hit the road until 9.30am at the earliest. By renting for two days you will be able to spend a full day exploring the Great Ocean Road and then get up early the next day for another full day of adventure.   Campervan Rentals The best way to rent a campervan in Melbourne or Adelaide is by using the platform Camplify. This is like the Airbnb of campervan rentals, offering cheap and reliable rental vehicles for short or long term users. This platform allows owners to rent out their campervans when they are not using them, which means they are well looked after and a lot cheaper than van rental companies. Browse the full selection of rental vans available for your Great Ocean Road trip here.  
A couple sitting on a campervan overlooking the sea
Living the van life dream
   

Also Read – Buying a Campervan in Australia – The Complete Guide for Backpackers

   

When Should You Visit the Twelve Apostles

As it is one of the most popular sights along the Great Ocean Road, the twelve apostles are a very busy location. Visiting this incredible place at the right time is therefore very important. As the day goes on, this spot tends to get busier and busier, climaxing at sunset, when all of the tours arrive.

If you are on an organised tour this section is not for you, as the tours will normally reach the Twelve Apostles for sunset. People descend on the viewing platform by the hundreds and you will struggle to get a space to enjoy the view for yourself. Don’t get me wrong, the twelve apostles at sunset are still an incredible sight, however, if you wish to enjoy the view in peace we recommend you visit at another time.

The best time to see the Twelve Apostles is during the first hour of daylight of the day. Especially during the busy summer months, not many people will brave the early sunrise time to reach this spot by then, so you will most likely have it all to yourself. If you do not wish to get up for sunrise, as long as you visit before midday, it should still be quiet enough to enjoy the view.

For those exploring the Great Ocean Road by campervan, sunrise is a much easier task due to the proximity of your resting spot to the Twelve Apostles. There are a few wild camping spots along the Great Ocean Road that are perfect for visiting the Twelve Apostles for sunrise.

Check out our full guide to the best free camping spots along the Great Ocean Road.

 
The beautiful coastline of the Great Ocean Road
Rugged coastline for miles and miles along the Great Ocean Road.
   

Also Read – The Most Instagrammable Places in Melbourne – The Ultimate Guide

   

What You Will Find at the Twelve Apostles

Cost of Parking – FREE

Admission Fee – FREE

Given how popular an attraction it is, the Twelve Apostles is one of the most developed sights along the Great Ocean Road. There is a large car park, perfect for vehicles of any and all shapes and sizes, and a small visitor centre with toilets and a shop. The visitor centre has information boards telling you all about the history of the Twelve Apostles, perfect for reading up on the natural marvels you are about to see. As you walk around the visitor centre to the other side from the car park, you will see a wheelchair-accessible path leading down beneath the road towards the sea. The viewing platforms over the 12 Apostles are well constructed and span around the edge of the cliffs. This provides a full, panoramic view of the coastline and the fascinating sea stacks in front of you. Spend some time admiring the incredible view, listening to the crashing waves and lose yourself in the awesome power of nature.  
 
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Also Read – Free Stuff Melbourne – Cheap things to do in Melbourne

   

Other Sights on the Great Ocean Road

Erskine Falls

One of the most popular waterfalls in the Great Otway National park, this 30m spectacle is an easy walk from your car and a must-see spot on your Great Ocean Road trip. From the car park you will have the choice of a 5 minute walk to view the waterfall from above, or brave the 240-step descent to enjoy the beauty of the waterfall from below. Overall the path is very well maintained, with frequent benches and resting areas to stop and catch your breath. The walk down to the falls is definitely suitable for families and the setup at the bottom protects you from getting too close to the waterfall itself. This is a very peaceful spot to enjoy the raw power of nature. For all the information you need, read our full guide to Erskine Falls over here.  
Erskine Falls
The jungle vibes of the Erskine falls are a complete contrast to the Great Ocean Road.
 

Split Point Lighthouse

Sitting just before the start of the Great Ocean Road and outside the small town of Lorne, this old lighthouse is a beautiful spot to admire the coastal views below. Built in 1891, this lighthouse was constructed to warn passing ships of the rocky shores nearby. There are daily tours of the lighthouse, showing you the fascinating history and culture behind this part of the country. These must be booked online, which can be done here.  
Split Point Lighthouse
The fascinating Split Point Lighthouse in Lorne.
 

Gibson Steps

Another stunning area of the Great Ocean Road, the cliffs of Gibsons Steps are truly jaw-dropping. If you visit this spot at low tide you will be able to walk down the steps to the beach, where you can marvel at the size of the cliffs above. Be careful when you are on the beach, however, as the waves are large and strong and if you are not paying attention you will easily get your feet wet, or possibly worse..  
 
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Bay of Islands

An area of the Great Ocean Road coastline that is littered with dozens of smaller limestone sea stacks. Over time, the soft coastal cliffs of Victoria have been eroded by the sea, leaving behind small islands of rock. These islands will, in turn, erode and collapse into the sea one day. The viewing platform over the Bay of Islands has beautiful views of the southern Victoria coastline as it stretches for as far as the eye can see. Silhouetted against the sea mist from the crashing waves are the outlines of these beautiful sea stacks.  
A view of the Bay of Martyrs.
The hidden views from off-the-beaten paths along the Great Ocean Road.
   

Before You Leave for the Great Ocean Road

Before you set off on your coastal adventure, there are a number of things you will need to get organised to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip. This includes packing all the necessities, sorting out travel insurance and organising your accommodation.  

Download our FREE full guide to arriving in Melbourne and getting yourself set up. This includes how to setup a bank account, superannuation and so much more!

 

Applying for an Australian Visa

If you have yet to leave for Australia then this is a section of interest for you. There are a LOT of different visa options for people arriving into Australia, from tourist visas to permanent residence visas. The most common visas, however, are the 3-month tourist visa and the Working Holiday Visa. If you are only visiting Australia for a short period of time then a tourist visa is your best option. These are easily obtained and relatively cheap, costing roughly $140AUD, and allow you to stay in the country for up to 12months. These can be applied for on the government website here.   If you wish to work and travel in Australia, a working holiday visa is your best option. These cost around $480AUD and allow you to stay in Australia for up to 12months, whilst working and earning money to travel. This visa also gives you the opportunity to extend your stay in Australia by up to 24months by working in certain job sectors.   For all of the information you need to know about the Australian Working Holiday Visa, read our full guide over here.     

What to Pack for the Great Ocean Road

Depending on the time of year that you will be exploring this coastal route, you will either be packing a lot of warm clothing or nothing at all. Since the Great Ocean Road runs along the southern coast of Victoria, the winter temperatures can plummet to below freezing as the Antarctic winds blast the mainland. However, during the summer months, the temperature along this route can reach beautiful levels, perfect for a dip in the water. Regardless of the season, we recommend you bring a good waterproof jacket with you, as you may experience the odd rain shower. Sunscreen and good walking boots are also a must all year round as the sun is strong and the walks are beautiful.  

If you need some advice on what clothing to pack, check out our packing guides for all seasons over here.

  You don’t want to forget your camera when you visit Australia and especially when you are driving along the Great Ocean Road. We brought our Canon camera, GoPro and Drone with us on this trip. Bear in mind that drones are not permitted between Gibson Steps and London Bridge due to helicopters flying in this area. You can check out what other travel tech we bring with us on our adventures here.  

What Food to Pack for the Great Ocean Road

When it comes to food, there are some restaurants in the towns on the Great Ocean Road. Some of these are listed below. We would recommend that if you are planning on cooking your own food or even for buying snacks, that you stock up at one of the larger supermarkets (such as Aldi and Coles) in Torquay as you won’t reach another until the end of the Great Ocean Road in Warrnambool. For cooking inspiration on your road trip, check out our recipes for delicious meals on the go.  

What is the Best Travel Insurance for Australia?

Insurance is one of the most important purchases you can make when preparing for any trip. Healthcare in Australia is expensive and it’s not worth breaking the bank over an accident. For hassle-free travel insurance, we highly recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance. These guys provide excellent cover, customer care, and worldwide support, all for a very reasonable cost. Get your quote for travel insurance right here.     So there you have it, your ultimate guide to the Twelve Apostles. If you are visiting this breathtaking place and have any other questions on what to expect, leave us a comment down below. We love to chat about this stuff! If you have already been, let us know how it was! What was your favourite part of the Great Ocean Road? Did you see the beautiful sunset at the Twelve Apostles? Let us know in the comments below! Also remember to share this with your friends and family that you are going to tour with. Sharing is caring and we want to inspire as many people as we can to visit this unbelievable part of the world. If you are planning an Australia trip soon then check out our other Australia content right here. Come and find us on social media to see where we are currently exploring. Tag us in your photos from the Great Ocean Road and we will share them with the rest of our community of explorers and backpackers.     Now Read:  

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