The Twelve Apostles
The Twelve Apostles are the culmination of a good day’s driving on Great Ocean Road. They are somewhat of a misnomer, as there aren’t twelve of them. They are also rapidly decreasing, as the sea continues to swallow them one at a time. Nonetheless, they are the iconic images of Great Ocean Road, and are easy to get to.
The Twelve Apostles are part of the Port Campbell Marine National Park. Access to the Apostles is via the visitors centre. There is plenty of parking, and while the centre is not open 24-hours-a-day, access to the viewing platforms is.
This is the most popular tourist spot along Great Ocean Road. The viewing decks spread across the cliffs and provide views which are both eastbound and westbound along the southern coast. This area tends to be severely weather-beaten and windswept, and the weather here can change with little notice. The key things to observe here are the limestone stacks known as the Apostles.
Best times to visit
While the location is open all year round, the best time to shoot here is in the late spring through to the early autumn when the weather is warm. The cooler weather brings with it a lot of rain that can play spoil sport with any plans of capturing some good images. Like with most landscape photography, the Apostles are best viewed at sunrise and sunset. However, on a day with a lot of cloud activity, you can probably pull off some good shots through till the late morning.
During summer months, you might plan a shoot on a moonless night when the sun has set. The dark skies here make spotting the Milky Way easy, and occasionally, you’ll be able to the Aurora Australis low on the horizon.
Winters can offer an interesting perspective when passing showers pass by from one side and the sun beats down from the other. This part of the coast has a high occurrence of rainbows (I have observed four complete rainbows – two of them were double rainbows – in an hour on the same morning).
With the weather in this area being as changeable as it is, check the forecast, and allow yourself some extra time in case you get caught in a passing shower (most of which last about 15 to 30 minutes). The visitors centre offers adequate shelter during the day. It is also worth checking on the times for sunrise and sunset.
From the perspective of a photographer, the odds are that your camera lenses will take a beating from the sea spray. I recommend that you carry a towel and some microfiber cloth to keep your lenses clean. Tripods are not essential, but the winds here get very rough. If you do use a tripod, carry a sturdy one with a hook to which you can weigh down with your bag. Your choice of lens would typically be a wide-angle lens.
If you’re planning an early morning or late evening shoot, be sure to carry a flashlight with you.
While the paved pathway remains a good surface in all conditions, the wooden deck can become slippery when wet.
Always dress in layers. The weather and temperature here constantly changes, and its very easy to suffer from exposure to the elements. In the summer, it is imperative that you have sunscreen on you.
Your choice of footwear is important. I recommend comfortable walking shoes (not runners) or preferably hiking boots.
Official Website: http://visit12apostles.com.au/
Vehicular Access: Sealed highway access to the parking lot.
Pedestrian Access: Paved pathway via the visitors centre from the parking lot to a wooden deck.
Fitness levels required: Suitable for any reasonably fit individual. Suitable for individuals with mobility restrictions.
Walk Difficulty: Easy
Amount of time required at the site: About half an hour.
Price of Admission: Free
Access hours: 24 hours a day (Visitors centre closes at 5:00pm)
Notes of caution: The deck is slippery when wet. You may run into a snake in the area. Proceed with caution. The path is wheelchair accessible, but some areas have gentle gradients. The cliffs in the area are unstable. It is highly recommended that one stays on the marked paths only.
Recommendations: This site is very popular among tourists, and peaks in attendance around 3p.m. when the tour buses from Melbourne arrive. The best times to visit are from sunrise to around 10a.m.