The Twelve Apostles on Australia’s Great Ocean Road

The Twelve Apostles on Australia’s Great Ocean Road, before sunrise.

The twelve Apostles in the Australian state of Victoria is a collection of eroded limestone sea stacks.  There never were twelve, only nine.  Due to erosion, only eight remain.  The pile of dark rocks in the foreground is what remains of the apostle which collapsed in 2003.

Australia’s Great Ocean Drive

Australia’s Great Ocean Road can be compared to Highway 1 along California’s coast.  Both have beautiful blue water and many pull outs for the distracted drivers.  However, California lacks the traffic signs warning drivers to slow down for koalas and kangaroos.  California also is missing the many colorful parrots and deadly snakes.

The reason for the very different color of the water between these two ocean photos is the above photograph is taken well before sunrise with a long exposure, while the picture below is a high-noon snapshot.

A random pull-out along the Great Ocean Drive on Australia’s southern coast

There are few towns along this drive.  We stopped and ate lunch at a colorful one, Lourne.

Home in Lourne

Colorful homes in Lourne, Australia


Everything is New to the Foreigner

While going for an early morning walk trying to find a good view of the Twelve Apostles, it occurred to me that basically everything I was seeing, hearing, trying to avoid, and smelling is new to me.  New birds and their songs, squawks and chirps.  Every plant and tree is something I’ve never seen.  There are many exotic birds that look like they belong in a zoo, simply flying about, entertaining tourists, but certainly annoying the locals with their loud squawks.  The signs along the trails warning me to beware of the indigenous snakes are all new.  The snake warning signs did not bother me much, as I feel the government and park rangers are notoriously over cautious.  However, more than one local confirmed the brown snakes will actually chase a person.  You will die within minutes if bitten.  If you see a snake, back away they all warned.

All three of the following birds were found along the road while searching for koalas in the trees.

(Photo Note:  The very worst angle to photograph a bird is looking up at it.  That is the way most people see birds daily.  For a good photo, get at eye level with the bird.  These are simple snapshots of parrots.)

The bird below flew in large flocks and made the most outrageous noises.  No way can these beautiful birds be loved by the locals.

The koalas were found near a caravan park.  They certainly felt at home sleeping and eating above the gawking tourists.  The parrots were being fed seeds and were quite tame.

Koalas in Australia


It is not easy to get a good photo of koalas in the wild.  Branches block their faces, they are sleeping, you are looking straight up at them at a bad angle and somehow I managed to get blurry photos of the slow moving creatures.

Kangaroo Patrol

Visiting Australia for the first time some of the objectives are very basic, like seeing a kangaroo in the wild.  We saw warning signs and were immediately hopeful, but then realized a kangaroo may jump in front of our rental car at any moment like deer back in the States.  We then saw plenty of kangaroos along the side of the road.  However, those we saw on the Great Ocean Drive had “ceased to be.  Gone to meet their maker.  They were ex-kangaroos.”  (With apologies to Monty Python).  It would be another week and in a different town before we saw our first live kangaroos and wallabies.



Port Campbell National Park is Free

It was hard to believe this very busy tourist attractions full of tour buses was free to all.  Many, many buses are in the parking lot and rental cars fill the rest.  Great facilities and paved paths, all free to the tourists and occasional local.

One goal on this trip was to be able to differentiate the accent of the British from the Australians.  Differentiating a New Zealander is above my pay grade.   So I determined the couple I was talking to was from Scotland.  Oops, they were Australians on their holiday and I was again warned of all brown snakes.  But all of us were enjoying the view. 

The path here is paved and fenced with no option for a unique photo view.  The struggle for a photographer using a tri-pod is the passing tourists who step on the planks, shaking the camera set-up.  These are several second exposures and the selfie crowd is oblivious as to what serious photographers are trying to do.

Sunset at the Twelve Apostles National Park


Vertical composition of the Apostles before sunrise

There are numerous short paved hikes to explore the lesser known apostles.

Some short hikes end with a swimming hole.

I thought I was photographing the famous ‘London Bridge Arch.’  However, this arch seemed much smaller than the photos I had seen at the visitor center.  Later I learned the London Bridge Arch had collapsed years earlier while tourists were on it, stranding many on the arch out at sea.

Next week we turn in our rental car and visit Melbourne, which is pronounced Melbun.

20 thoughts on “The Twelve Apostles on Australia’s Great Ocean Road

  1. I’m so jealous! Australia is definitely a “bucket list” place for me though I don’t expect to get there. Nice to join the “Vicarious Vacations Tour” with you. Fabulous pics and as always, a great narrative. Have a G’day Mate!

  2. The last time I was there there were only 8 Apostles left, they are slowly disappearing. If you can get to the Vic Market while in Melbourne look for Danni’s Sweaters, some of the finest, warmest sweaters you will find. Safe travels.

  3. Gorgeous photos, Harold.
    I was particularly interested in your mention of the eastern brown snake, and have been reading about it for the last several minutes. The world’s second-most venomous land snake, it’s got a nasty bite, for sure. The reference said that the eastern brown snake can out-slither a human in a full-out sprint, which is quite shocking.
    Thanks for yet another way fun write up.

  4. Thank you for the post. Love that you took similar, yet definitely not the same, photos at sunrise & sunset. The color contrast and light saturation plays so nicely together.
    Enjoy your travels and please avoid the snakes.

  5. Hi Harold: Great job as usual. Loved the photos. My favourite, though, was how well you captured the pronunciation of Melbourne.

    I’m looking forward to the rest of the story……


  6. Great scenery and I like the birds even if they were shot from below. I get what you mean though about that angle. I am in my office with 17 prints of birds on may wall and all are either eye level or slightly above or below and most are birds in flight.

    Selfie shooting vibrating planks and all you got some great shots.

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