The 12 Apostles was for me the highlight of my recent tour of Australia’s famous Great Ocean Road, which winds along the coast of Victoria and is very accessible from Melbourne. During the afternoon at the 12 Apostles, a huge, roiling smoke cloud from a Parks Victoria planned burn-off gave things a faintly apocalyptic air. But must have things well under control as the flames and smoke were almost entirely gone by the end of the afternoon.
After dinner in Port Campbell I went back to join the big camera lense toting crew for sunset at the 12 Apostles. It wasn’t a spectacular sunset in the usual sense but there was a very soft, magical light against which the wonderful striations of the cliffs and rock stacks stood out. You could see where one sedimentary layer on the cliff matched with one on a stack. Long shadows reach out across an impassable divide, cast by the 12 Apostles trying to touch the coast to which they once belonged.
The flat orange disc of the sun sank uneventfully – the golden light had long departed from the 12 Apostles. But it had a last flourish to share – a pink underlight flung up across the delicate clouds spread across the heavens.
And the final act … around 15 minutes later a tiny dark shape appears in the shallows down below the 12 Apostles. One Little Penguin, then two, then four. The sea is calm and pacific but they still struggle ashore, sucked and pulled back by the receding waves; stopping and waiting for the incoming waves to help. Higher up the beach is criss crossed with their footprints.
My experience of sunset at the 12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road far exceeded my expectations, partly because the weather forecast was for a mess of wind and rain.
Where to stay to see the 12 Apostles
Port Campbell is 12 kilometres from the 12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road and has cute museums and craft shops and plenty of accommodation options. Port Campbell has a few options for eating, or enjoying a takeaway on the beachfront. The 12 Bar cafe is the best spot for a drink on the balcony overlooking the port, watching the wharf in silhouette against the still warm evening sun. Seagulls strut and people stroll on the beach; local kids run down to swim, yelping with excitement.
By Natasha von Geldern