7 Interesting Facts About the Twelve Apostles in Australia

The Great Ocean Road in the state of Victoria is home to many spectacular sights, including the Twelve Apostles. Millions of years of erosion formed these limestone rock formations that rise out of the Southern Ocean. However, as you’ll discover, their name is rather misleading. Planning a visit or just curious to know more? Here are some of the most interesting facts about the Twelve Apostles in Australia.

7 Interesting Facts About the Twelve Apostles in Australia

1. The Twelve Apostles is a group of rocks

The Twelve Apostles is a group of rock stacks in the Southern Ocean off the shore of Port Campbell National Park, by the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia. It is one of the most famous natural landmarks in Australia and is a big tourist attraction in the state of Victoria.

2. Erosion shaped the Twelve Apostles

The rock stacks are made of Port Campbell Limestone, which was deposited some 15 to 5 million years ago. The extreme Southern Ocean weather eroded the soft limestone and thus shaped the stacks over millions of years. The erosion first form caves in the limestone cliffs, which eroded further into arches which eventually collapsed into stacks.

3. There are 7, not 12 stacks

Despite the name, there were never 12 rock stacks. There were nine original rock formations. However, when officials renamed them ‘The Twelve Apostles’ there were only eight standing. In July 2005, a 50-metre-tall (160 ft) stack collapsed. Now, just seven stacks remain at the Twelve Apostles viewpoint.

4. The original name was the Sow and Piglets

Until the 1960s, the rock stacks went by the Pinnacles and the Sow and Piglets. The Sow is Mutton Bird Island, which stands at the entrance to Loch Ard Gorge. The Piglets the many rock stacks dotted along the coast, including the Twelve Apostles.

5. The formations were renamed to attract tourists

In order to attract more visitors, officials renamed the Sow and Piglets ‘The Apostles’. This was a pure marketing tactic as they believed it sounded better and would boost tourism to the site. Eventually, the sea stacks became known as the Twelve Apostles. The name change worked. Over 2 million people visit the Twelve Apostles every year. It is one of Victoria’s most popular tourist destinations. It is the third most popular natural site in Australia after Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef.

6. There are other rock formations in the area

Also along this stretch of coast in Port Campbell National Park are other impressive rock formations, for instance, London Bridge, Thunder Cave, Razorback, Island Archway, Bakers Oven Rock, Sentinel Rocks, and the Grotto.

7. The Twelve Apostles are part of the Shipwreck Coast

Port Campbell National Park is also home to the Loch Ard Gorge. This gorge is named after the clipper ship Loch Ard which ran aground on nearby Muttonbird Island. You’ll soon discover why this part of the Great Ocean Road is called the Shipwreck Coast. Stretching some 130km from Cape Otway to Port Fairy, there are approximately 638 known shipwrecks along Victoria’s coast. The most famous shipwreck is Loch Ard which sunk in 1878. There were 54 passengers on board but only two survived, cabin boy Tom Pearce and passenger Eva Carmichael. The pair washed up on the beach, which is now called Loch Ard Gorge to honour the fallen vessel.

interesting facts about the twelve apostles

Melanie May

Melanie is an intrepid solo traveller, endlessly curious about people, places and food. She is a fan of slow travel and loves exploring the world by mouth, discovering a culture through its food. Having backpacked her way around the world she turned her wanderlust into a career and is now a full-time travel writer.

View stories