By Bina Joseph
What is the link between a sow and her piglets and the twelve apostles? The answer is found at “the end of the end of the world.”
One of Australia’s most visited landmarks was originally known as the Sow and Piglets! Muttonbird Island, near Loch Ard Gorge, was the Sow, and the smaller surrounding rock stacks, the Piglets. This unromantic moniker was converted to the esoteric Twelve Apostles — although there were only nine stacks, of which eight remain — in 1922 when construction of the Great Ocean Road began.
This highway, stretching over 151 miles from Torquay to Allansford, was built as a monument to those who lost their lives in WWI. The portion between Lorne and Apollo Bay is acknowledged as being the most picturesque. From Apollo Bay the road traverses the center of the Great Otway National Park with its lush, untouched rain forests before following the coast for the entire length of the Port Campbell National Park. This most famous section of the Great Ocean Road is home to the Twelve Apostles.
It is a panoramic cliffside drive unfolding in endlessly dramatic scenery, rest stops, and viewing points for the limestone rock formations rising from the sea. Viewing boardwalks have been constructed from the visitor center. Scenic helicopter flights are also available.
The Twelve Apostles is a collection of eight miocene limestone rock stacks jutting from the Southern Ocean in Port Campbell National Park between Princetown and Peterborough. These incredible formations were carved through millennia of erosion of soft limestone areas by wind and wave, creating caves in the shoreline cliffs. These further wore away into domes and arches. In time, they disintegrated and detached from the mainland into stacks, towers, and islands rising from the ocean. The cliffs rise to nearly 230 feet at their highest, the highest Apostle spanning approximately 164 feet from base to tip.
The continuous action and rate of erosion at the existing headlands is expected to form new limestone structures in the future. Monstrous cliffs, immense rock stacks, fierce, restless surf, secluded coves, pristine beaches, unspoilt rain forests, and exciting resort towns are part and parcel of this magnificent vacationland vista.
The Apostles are a sight to behold and well worth the long drive. At sunrise and sunset they change color from dark and foreboding shadows to brilliant golden yellow or rust red under a full sun. And there are other awe-inspiring rock formations on the coast and towering out of the sea: the Gibson Steps, the Loch Ard Gorge, The Arch, the London Bridge, and the Grotto (http://www.visitvictoria.com).
Having made the trek so far it is advisable to plan for a few days rather than the hurried trip most tourists end up making just to see the Apostles. This is a vacation destination with much more, though admittedly the Apostles are the star attraction. But the national parks, the towns and beaches, the touring and activity options, and the variety of accommodations all along the stunning Victorian coastline and inland areas offer just about everything that a holidaymaker desires, in typical, laid back, inimitable Aussie style.
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