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Port Campbell

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Victoria, Australia

Port Campbell
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• Great Ocean Road
• Shipwreck Coast
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Port Campbell - Cities, Towns and Localities
The coastal village of Port Campbell, ‘Port’ to the locals, is a great place to base yourself when exploring the magnificent region. Part of the Great Ocean Road and Shipwreck Coast scenic drives, the village lies in a horse-shoe shaped bay surrounded by national park that stretches up and down the coast.

It is close to some of the most visited attractions on this scenic drive, with the iconic Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, Gibsons Beach and Princetown just to the east. To the west of Port Campbell are The Arch, London Bridge, The Grotto, the Bay of Martyrs and the Bay of Islands.

The Twelve Apostles is a popular attraction, whether you are visiting during summer or winter. During the warmer seasons, you can sit for hours and marvel at the sheer beauty of mother nature and god, the varied ocean hues and the colours of those limestone sculptures, as the sun slowly sets.

During the blustery, cold windy conditions of winter, when nature whips up the power of the Great Southern Ocean, crashing it into the rocks and coastline, the Twelve Apostles still makes for spectacular viewing. Lightning strikes across a blacken sky only serve to heighten the atmospheric beauty, of this stretch of the Victorian coastline.

Port Campbell is located at the heart of the Port Campbell National Park and Bay of Islands Coastal Park, that stretches in both directions up an down the coast. There are a number of lookouts where you can take in the spectacular coastline. It is also part of the Shipwreck Coast, with the famous Loch Ard, being wrecked in 1878 of the coast of Port Campbell.

If it is underwater adventure you are looking for, this coastal drive overlooks the Twelve Apostles Marine National Park. There is also the opportunity to explore a small offshore site just east of Port Campbell that is home to some of Victoria's most spectacular underwater limestone formations, and protected within The Arches Marine Sanctuary.

The creeks and harbour also offer some good fishing, whilst the surf at Two Mile Bay is said to by one of the best big-wave breaks in Australia. There are also boating tours or you can just enjoy some of the self-guided walks.

Check out our listing of Port Campbell accommodation, Great Ocean Road accommodation and Shipwreck Coast accommodation. In addition to our listed online travel guide information, contact the local tourism visitor centre for your destination for more attractions, tours, local maps and other information.

Information Centre

Port Campbell Visitor Information Centre
26 Morris Street
Ph: 03 5598 6089
Ph: 1300 137 255
Daily 9 am - 5 pm
Closed Christmas Day
Hours may vary, contact visitor centre
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Port Campbell Attractions

Twelve Apostles Marine National Park & The Arches Marine Sanctuary
• With the famous image of the crumbling pillars of the Twelve Apostles, for the adventurous, there is a paradise to explore below the water. Shrouded beneath the wild and sometimes calm waters is a remarkable underwater seascape of towering canyons, caves, arches and walls. Here in this submarine labyrinth, there are colourful seaweeds and sponge gardens, with aquatic creatures going about their daily business, whilst above you may see Australian fur seals and dolphins at play. All of this just off the coastline, protected by the Twelve Apostles Marine National Park.

But there is more to explore, as just east of Port Campbell, is a small offshore site known as The Arches Marine Sanctuary. This area protects some of Victoria's most spectacular underwater limestone formations. Diving here is a thrilling experience as you explore the amazing canyons, arches and tunnels.

Check out the Park Notes/Maps: Twelve Apostles Marine National Park (PDF)
The Twelve Apostles
• The Twelve Apostles is the iconic attraction along the Great Ocean Road scenic drive, whether you are visiting during summer or winter. During the warmer months, you can find just the right spot to sit for hours and marvel at the sheer beauty of the vista, the blue sky, the limestone sculptures against the changing turquoise and aqua ocean hues, even as the sun slowly sets.

During the colder months, when winter chills and blustery conditions prevail, the Apostles are still a splendid sight, with mother nature whipping up the power of the Great Southern Ocean, as it crashes into the rocks and coastline. Lightning strikes across a darkened sky only serve to heighten the atmosphere, bringing into profile ghostly silhouettes.

Of course, if you plan to make a sunrise or sunset visit to capture that incredible photos, we do recommend that you factor in at least 30 minutes, to give yourself enough time to walk to your selected ‘Apostles’ viewing platform and to set yourself up for the best vantage point.
The Loch Ard
• Australian's European history has numerous stories of shipwrecks, and one of the worst tragedies was the story of the Loch Ard. Wrecked on Mutton Bird Island reefs in 1878, just off the Shipwreck Coast in Victoria, Australia.

The Loch Ard was an iron-hulled three masted clipper ship, whose name comes from a lake just west of the village of Aberfoyle in Scotland. It was on a non-stop voyage from London to Melbourne with passengers that included members of the Carmichael family. Three month out from London, after days of fog and haze that prevented Captain Gibb from calculating his position for the critical pass into Bass Strait's western entrance (a 90 km passage between the coast and King Island), on the 1st June, 1878, the captain tried to take evasive action when he saw how close they were to the cliffs. This was to no avail when the ship struck the reefs of Mutton Bird Island, just off the coast.

The mast and rigging smashed, some of it onto the deck trapping some people, others were washed overboard, then the ship began to roll. It took only fifteen minutes for the Loch Ard to sink. Of the 54 passengers and crew, there were only two survivors, Tom Pearce, a member of the crew and 18 year old Eva Carmichael, who was travelling with her family.

Tom, clinging to a overturn lifeboat was washed into a deep gorge, that now bears the name the Loch Ard Gorge. Eva, who could not swim managed to cling to some wreckage from the ship, which drifted through huge twin cliffs into a small bay of the gorge. She was too exhausted, and Tom saw her in the waves and despite being exhausted himself, swam out to rescue her and after an hour long struggle manage to bring her safely back to land. He took Eva to a cave at the end of the gorge, he then climbed the cliffs to get help, not seeing the steps that were already cut into the cliff face. He ran into a party from nearby Glenample Station who returned with him to rescue Eva.

After their recovery they never saw each other again, as Eva returned to Ireland and later married. Tom eventually became a ship's captain.

Today, the tragedy is remember with four bodied having been buried in the Loch Ard Cemetery. There are also some self-guided walk around the Loch Ard Gorge area (details on the Visit Victoria website). There are a number of viewing decks along the cliffs, as well as a stairway on the eastern wall of Loch Ard Gorge that goes down to the beach.1
The Peacock
• The cargo of the Loch Ard included a range of luxury goods. When the ship was shipwrecked most of the cargo was lost, except for a large decorative porcelain peacock made by Minton in England. The 144 cm tall porcelain peacock was thought to be headed for display at the Great Exhibition of Melbourne in 1880.

Today, the peacock is the centre piece of the museum at Flagstaff Hill in Warrnambool, and part of the retelling of the story of Loch Ard.2
The Grotto, Port Campbell National Park, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia.The Grotto
• There are boardwalk and pathway that take you to viewing platforms of The Grotto. The rock formations are accessed via many steps. There are steep gradients on the boardwalk between the two viewing platforms.

Shaping a Grotto
This charming feature has been formed by erosion from the coast... and from inland.

Water from a swampy depression has percolated through the 10-20 million year-old limestone of the escarpment here.

Weak acids in the water slowly dissolved the limestone, first forming a depression or ‘sinkhole’, and eventually hollowing out the Grotto.

Rust-coloured pebbles scattered near the top of the limestone are a product of the same swamp. Known as ‘buckshot’, they were formed when magnetic iron-rich particles were drawn together in the still waters at the bottom of the swamp.

Source: Parks Victoria -
Port Campbell National Park signage

Muttonbird Island
• Located near Loch Ard Gorge, Muttonbird Island is an important nesting place for the Muttonbird (Short-tailed Shearwter). These are remarkable birds who travel 30,000 km every year, spend their summer in the northern Pacific Ocean and then on the last week of September they return to the Bass Strait to nest in the various rookeries in the area.

The best time to see them is in the evening from January to February, although they can often be seen between October to April.
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Port Campbell Tours

VIC Tours • Outback • Eco • Adventure • National Tours
VIATOR TOURS • Book Online
Find and book our Victoria’s most popular sights, tours, and attractions. Booking ahead with Viator means you won’t miss out on popular tours and attractions.

Check out some of the listings for All Nature & Wildlife in Melbourne (including Great Ocean Road, Phillip Island, and Grampians National Park).

There are also some great All Air, Helicopter & Balloon Tours in Melbourne (including balloon flights over Melbourne region and helicopter flights over Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road.

Many tours to nearby popular destinations start from Melbourne, taking you to places including Ballarat, Bendigo, Echuca, Grampians, Great Ocean Road, Mount Buller, Mornington Peninsula, Phillip Island, Yarra Valley, etc. There are tours that let you experience some of Victoria’s popular activities and pastimes including cruises, shopping, sport, food and wineries and much more...
Melbourne | Victoria
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12 Apostles Helicopters
• Located at the 12 Apostles Information Centre / Car Park
• Enjoy a breathtaking helicopter scenic flight and then walk on down to the magnificent 12 Apostles boardwalk without getting in your car again. A range of scenic flights to choose from.
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Port Campbell Distance

Distance to Port Campbell
• Following are some approximate distances by road to Port Campbell:
• Apollo Bay 96
• Camperdown 52
• Cobden 39
• Derrinallum 94
• Lavers Hill 49
• Lorne 141
• Melbourne via Colac 229
• Peterborough 13
• Princetown 18
• Simpson 32
• Skipton 120
• Terang 52
• Timboon 17
• Warrnambool 65
Distances given are only approximation, they should be verified with the appropriate maps.
The Australian Automotive Motoring Associations also offer select access to travel trip planners.

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Port Campbell Other Links

• Port Campbell Community/Local Government Links

1 Parks Victoria - Special Places - Loch Ard. Retrieved 23 April, 2011
2 ABC South West Victoria - The Loch Ard Peacock joins the Victorian Heritage Register, 24 February, 2010. Retrieved 23 April 2011
The Grotto, Port Campbell National Park, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia.
The Grotto
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