Port Campbell National Park. National Park in Australia, Oceania

Port Campbell National Park

National Park in Australia, Oceania

Twelve Apostles | Port Campbell National Park Photo © Hadi Zaher

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Port Campbell National Park

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Natural Sea Wall | Port Campbell
	National Park - Port Campbell National Park
Natural Sea Wall | Port Campbell National Park - Port Campbell National Park. Photo by Hadi Zaher
Port Campbell National Park is located in the southwest of the state of Victoria in Australia. It is a world-famous national park about 190 kilometers southwest of Melbourne and 10 kilometers east of the town of Warrnambool. This 1,750-hectare coastal park lies next to the stunning Great Otway National Park. A collection of magnificent limestone rock formations off the coast, known as the ‘Twelve Apostles’, is the national park’s main feature and tourist attraction. The Twelve Apostles are one of Australia’s most iconic sights. In addition, there are several other rock formations that have been sculpted by waves, as well as impressive coastal cliffs.

Port Campbell National Park consists of sheer vertical cliffs, gorges, inlets, arches, blowholes, and other rock formations. The park is located along the so-called Shipwreck Coast, a name that can easily be explained. The national park’s climate is often windy, with salty sea air blowing across the top plateaus of the exposed cliff. Vegetation types consist mostly of plants adapted to coastal environments, such as heathlands, grasslands, shrublands, and shrubs living on sand dunes. On the plateaus, there are woodlands, forests, and swamps. Remarkable plant species that live in the area are Sun and Spider Orchids, Paperbarks, Bower Spinach, Daisy Bushes, and Beard-Heaths.

Animal life in the national park consists mostly of birds. The coastal cliffs and wooded plateaus are the habitat of birds such as Honeyeaters, Emus, Fairy Wrens, Pelicans, Peregrine Falcons, and Black Swans, while the ocean is home to Penguins, Albatrosses, and Australian Gannets. Echidnas, Grey Kangaroos, and Bandicoots are mammals that can be seen on land. The waters of the Southern Ocean (Wikipedia
	Article) are home to Dolphins, Whales, Sharks, and Seals.

Earth and Water | The 12
	Apostles | Port Campbell National Park - Port Campbell National Park
Earth and Water | The 12 Apostles | Port Campbell National Park. Photo by Hadi Zaher

History

The area has been home to Aboriginal people for thousands of years. They knew all about this coastline and lived off the land and sea. To find food, they cut steps into the cliffs.

The first European who explored this coast quickly realized how dangerous it was. The name ‘Shipwreck Coast’ was given after a number of shipwrecks that happened on some of the rocks in the ocean. There are five shipwrecks in and around Port Campbell National Park, the most famous of which was the Loch Ard (Wikipedia Article) in 1878. 52 people died and two survived, a boy and a girl who were stranded in a nearby gorge. They were saved and the gorge was named Loch Ard Gorge.

Port Campbell National Park was established in 1964 to protect the limestone formations off the Great Ocean Road. The park grew steadily and got to its present size of 1,750 hectares in 1981.

Things to See and Do

The national park is home to numerous sites and sights while activities are plentiful as well. Driving down the Great Ocean Road is something that really shouldn't be skipped, as it is one of the most beautiful drives in the world. It starts in Geelong, west of Melbourne, and runs westward to the town of Warrnambool. It runs past spectacular beaches, cliffs, and through the lush green rainforest of Great Otway National Park. However, the main attraction on the way is the Twelve Apostles.

The Twelve Apostles are in fact seven limestone rocks rising out of the Southern Ocean off the coast of Victoria. There is a huge parking lot and an easy path to a viewing platform, from which visitors can see six of the seven rock stacks. There is a nice visitor center as well. Other major landmarks are Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge, The Grotto, The Arch, and the Gibson Steps, leading to the beach at the base of the cliffs and allowing for breathtaking views.

Activities include diving and swimming; there is a great reef and shipwreck that provide amazing diving opportunities off the coast of the national park. The Gellibrand River is perfect for canoeing, and kayaking and can be accessed at Gellibrand Inlet. Fishing can also be done on the Gellibrand River, as well as at Curdies Inlet. The Port Campbell jetty, Clifton Beach, and Newfield Bay are good spots for ocean fishing.

Port Campbell National Park also offers fantastic hiking opportunities. Suggested hikes are the Shipwreck Walk at Loch Ard Gorge; Port Campbell Discovery Walk, Bay of Martyrs Walk, and the fabulous 91-kilometer Great Ocean Walk.

Earth and Water | Port Campbell
	National Park - Port Campbell National Park
Earth and Water | Port Campbell National Park. Photo by Hadi Zaher

How to Get There

Port Campbell National Park can be reached directly from Melbourne on the Princes Highway. The drive is about 250 kilometers long and takes three hours. However, the best and recommended route to take is the Great Ocean Road. It is longer, but also dramatically more scenic. It is often listed as one of the most spectacular road journeys in the world and should not be missed when in the area. The full drive takes about five hours when completed in one go, but it is suggested to allow at least two days to explore.

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Similar Landmarks

Great Otway National Park lies adjacent to Port Campbell National Park; the Bay of Islands Coastal Parks lies next to it. Other similar coastal parks in Australia are Royal National Park and Nullarbor National Park.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: May 01, 2015

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Port Campbell National Park
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