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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrThe Gibson Steps is one of many highlights on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia. They are located a couple of kilometers from the region’s major attraction, the Twelve Apostles. The Gibson Steps are a series of stairways leading down the cliffs on the Australian south coast and the first sightseeing stop in Port Campbell National Park for people traveling west.
86 steps lead down to the beach from the 30-meter-high clifftop. The Gibson Steps provide one of only a few access points to the beach along this spectacular cliff-dominated stretch of coastline. Descending is strongly recommended, but be aware that there is no wheelchair access and that people with limited ability are advised to stay at the top. People who get to the beach immediately feel dwarfed by the sheer size of the limestone cliff and the rock formations in the ocean. The enormous scale of natural sculpting that takes place there every day is humbling. There are two huge rock stacks in the ocean, known as Gog and Magog, visible from both the viewing platform at the top and from the beach. These two formations, which are not a part of the Twelve Apostles, are constantly battered by the ferocious surf.
The southwest-facing beach is about 0.7 miles long and visitors can walk to both the east and west of the steps, tide and ocean conditions permitting. The waves are generally around 5 feet high and swimming is absolutely discouraged. Visitors are also advised not to turn their backs at the ocean, as conditions can change dramatically in only a short period of time. Watching the waves is a good idea. There is, however, a short window offering swimming opportunities. This is at low tide when the waves are low, but only around some of the reefs.
The beach is a popular place to fish. The reefs, rip holes, and gutters are home to an abundance of fish. And by the way, the Gibson Steps were cut out by a fisherman to reach the beach in the first place.
HistoryIt is believed that the cliff steps were first cut out by the local Kirrae Whurrong people. Later on, the pioneer, Hugh Gibson, established nearby Glenample Homestead in 1869. He used the traditional access way to the beach that was carved out by the Aborigines a long time before. Gibson maintained the steps and improved them.
Gibson’s homestead was where the only two survivors of the shipwrecked Loch Ard, Tom Pearce and Eva Carmichael, regained their strength after washing up on shore at what now is Loch Ard Gorge.
Visiting the Gibson StepsThe Gibson Steps lie alongside one of the world’s great roads, the appropriately named Great Ocean Road. This 250-kilometer-long road runs from Torquay in the east to Warrnambook in the west, passing through Great Otway National Park and Port Campbell National Park. This section of the road is dominated by sheer, vertical, coastal cliffs and rock formations.
There is a designated parking lot that provides great access to the viewing platform and to the actual steps down to the beach. The viewing platform offer spectacular views, but the main attraction is, of course, the 86 Gibson Steps themselves. The walkway from the parking lot to the viewing platform and steps is about 82 feet long.
An alternative place to park is at the large Twelve Apostles parking lot. From that parking lot, visitors can reach the Gibson Steps via a one-kilometer section of the Great Ocean Walk. This pleasant walk starts at the back of the kiosk at the Twelve Apostles and underpasses the Great Ocean Road near the viewing platforms and Gibson Steps. This return walk is two kilometers long and offers fabulous views.
Before descending, it is essential to make sure that the ocean conditions are safe. Do not attempt to access the beach during high tide or during wild weather and high waves. Fishing and swimming should only be done by very experienced fishermen and swimmers.
Similar LandmarksThe section of the Great Ocean Road that runs through Port Campbell National Park is filled with similar landmarks. Of course, by far the biggest one is the Twelve Apostles. Although there aren't actually twelve – there are seven left – this is one of Australia’s main tourist destinations. It’s easy to see why; they are absolutely spectacular, especially when seen in early morning or late afternoon light. Other nearby landmarks are Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge, The Grotto, The Arch, and Razorback Rock.
Other spectacular coastal cliffs in the world are the White Cliffs of Dover in England, the Bunda Cliffs in Nullarbor National Park, Etretat in Normandy, the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, and Cabo Girao on the Madeira Islands.
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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: May 01, 2015