Apostle down, but so much more Great Ocean Road to know

July 16, 2005

Dont panic, the icon stacks of the 12 Apostles on Victorias Shipwreck Coast are not in a hurry to become fallen angels.

The stack which crashed at 9.18am on Sunday morning, July 3 is the first to fall in the history of Europeans in Australia, says Port Campbell pioneer family member and caravan park operator Tom McKenzie. 'That is more than 200 years', he said. Toms family came to the area around Skipton as bonded shepherds in 1854 and after serving their six year bond settled in Port Campbell in 1860.

In European time the gale blasted rocks have a long history. The charts of the amazingly meticulous cartographer and navigator Matthew Flinders show the name 12 Apostles. Matthew Flinders, George Bass and his young servant William Martin began an intense period of Australian exploration in 1795 in a cockleshell dinghy they called Tom Thumb. In 1801, at 26 he commanded the 334 tons sloop HMS Investigator. He was the youngest commander of his rank in the Royal Navy. From 1802 he charted the Australian coast.

Flinders died in London on July 19, 1814, the day after his new workA Voyage to Terra Australis was published.

Tom McKenzie, who manages Port Campbell Caravan Park, says there were originally 17 rock formations, depending on how you look at it.

To arrive at that tally you must agree that the rock formation known as the Bakers Oven is part of the group and that Elephant Rock, which lost its trunk in 1936, also qualifies as an 'Apostle'.

London Bridge The wild coastline is a work in progress. Another icon of the Great Ocean Road and Shipwreck Coast, London Bridge, collapsed 15 years ago, in 1990 at 11am on Jan. 10,leaving two tourists stranded when the rock span fell and suddenly formed an island. They were retrieved by helicopter.

The Apostles stack which crashed has been a long time going. Tom says the erosion rate is about the thickness of a match every 10 years. It was an interesting Sunday on the Shipwreck Coast, not only did an Apostle tumble, but in nearby Port Campbell a whale cruised to within metres of the towns boat ramp.

Sarah and Dean Hellessey of the, Great Ocean Road Tourist Park, Peterborough, say this season's whales can now also be seen at Logan's Beach in Warrnambool, and occasionally at Peterborough.

Their Tourist Park is right on the mouth of the Curdie's River Inlet which forms the boundary of Port Campbell National Park and Coastal Reserve

In fact the Apostles are only a part of the amazing coastal and hinterland showcase which as Victorias Minister for Tourism John Pandazopoulos said, after the fall of the Apostle, goes far beyond the sea-carved stacks.

Apostles 1998 Continue 13km west of Port Campbell and the great ocean touring experience includes peaceful Peterborough, Curdies Inlet, excellent fishing, beaches to die for and the breath-taking beauty of the Bay of Islands. Many people say it is better than the Apostles. Then there is the Bay of Martyrs, Childers Cove, which includes Murnane Bay and Sandy Cove and the popular beach at Cofts Bay.

Victorias heritage kicks in further west at Portland and Port Fairy. Portland was the first permanent settlement in Victoria, established in 1834. It has 200 historic buildings to show for it. The Botanic Gardens are among Victorias 'originals'. There is protected swimming and good surfing for the beach set too.

In the mid 1820s Port Fairy and the security of the Moyne River drew the attention of Captain James Wishart and his cutter Fairy, which gave its name to the port. Fort and Battery Hill has cannon from the 1860s, nearby Griffith Island has a mutton bird colony. There are tours to see the seals of Lady Julia Percy Island. The Local Historical Society in Gipps St keeps up with the past and about 12km west of town The Crags are cliffs with a view. Whalebone Gallery is a fresh experience and nearby Yambuk Lake is popular for fishing, boating and the attendant birdlife.

Editors Note: Here are Information Articles from the free GoSee library on the Great Oc ean Road experience. The Great Ocean Road is among The Great Drives of Australia series which has hyper-links on the left of the Home Page.