Australian Landmarks: The Twelve Apostles

The 12 Apostles stand off the Port Campbell National Park, along the southwest coast of Victoria, Australia.
The 12 Apostles stand off the Port Campbell National Park, along the southwest coast of Victoria, Australia.

The magnificent 12 Apostles is a collection of limestone rocks off the Port Campbell National Park shores. They stand tall along the southwest coast of Victoria, an Australian state. These rocks stand in close proximity to one another making a spectacular sight that attracts tourists all year round.


The formation of these rocks can be traced back to over 20 million years ago. The formation can be attributed to the fact that the southern ocean offers very harsh weather conditions to anything in its vicinity. The strong waves of the ocean led to erosion, which in turn formed the apostles. Erosion gradually wore out the soft limestone to create cliffs, then arches, which later disintegrated leaving behind rocks that stood up to 50 metres tall. The erosion that led to their creation will eventually destroy the monoliths.

These rocks have been called by different names over time. They were referred to as “Sow and Pigs” up to the year 1992, with the Muttonbird Island being the Sow, while the smaller bits of rocks formed the pigs. They have also been referred to as the Pinnacle, Razorback, Island Archway, Thunder Cave, Bakers Oven Rock, Sentinel Rocks, and the Grotto. However, the most known name is the 12 Apostles. They acquired the apostles’ name for tourism purposes. The name 12 Apostles has always been misleading, seeing as at the time the rocks received the apostle’s name, only nine stacks were remaining.


There is the threat of more stacks collapsing due to erosion, as witnessed by the previous collapse of one of the nine rocks. On July 3rd 2005, at about 9:20 am local time, the ninth of the 12 Apostles collapsed, leaving only a small rubble behind. In 2009 it was feared that one of the apostles had collapsed again. This was later proven wrong, as the collapsed rock was one of nearby The Three Sisters rock formation.

Even as erosion destroys the rocks that are standing, it is believed that the erosion on the cliffs will formulate more rocks in the future, either perfecting what is there or even adding the number of rocks. Scientists have established that the rate of erosion at this location is 2cm per year. It might take a long time, but if history is anything to go by then there will be more rocks standing where the current ones are in years to come.


The Apostles are located about 275 kilometers to the west of Melbourne and at almost a 4-hour drive along the Great Ocean Road. A lot of people travel from all over the world to marvel at these splendid landmarks. The colors and the lighting on the rocks change significantly during the day. The most spectacular is in the morning as the sunrises and in the evening as the sets. The shores of the ocean are made up of ragged cliffs over a long stretch. The viewing area has been made to accommodate wheelchairs and strollers and the same time ensure a clear view of the Apostles.

In the year 2002, the creation of a marine park at the location of the 12 Apostles faced disapproval from the Port Campbell Professional Fishermen’s Association. The opposition was however not successful for the Association. The marine park was created successfully. The Association of Fishermen got reprieve when the Victorian Government blocked the exploration by an Energy Company called Benaris Energy. This was due to the impending threat to marine life.


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