Port Campbell National Park
Famous for the Twelve Apostles and historic shipwrecks, Port Campbell National Park contains the most significant areas of vegetation and fauna native to south-western Victoria. The diverse range of coastal environments includes woodlands, dunes, wetlands, coastal cliffs, limestone stacks and arches.
Things to Do
>> Scenic drives along the Great Ocean Road, stopping at points of interest.
>> Three self-guided walks at Loch Ard Gorge that introduce shipwreck history, geology, and coastal ecology.
>> Visit historic Glenample Homestead, where the two survivors of the Loch Ard shipwreck were taken after their rescue.
>> Watch the thousands of Muttonbirds (Short-tailed Shearwaters) that fly in to their nest burrows from the sea each evening in summer.
>> Call at the National Park Information Centre in Port Campbell.
>> Try the Port Campbell Discovery Walk that heads west from the township.
>> Swim or surf at Port Campbell.
>> Snorkelling and scuba diving tours available.
The new visitor centre at the Twelve Apostles comprises an orientation area, upgraded interpretation displays along the boardwalk, toilets and a carpark that accommodates 190 cars and 12 coaches. Access to the viewing areas is now via a tunnel under the Great Ocean Road.
There is no camping in the park, but there is a privately-run campground in Port Campbell. Port Campbell also has accommodation to suit every budget.
Aboriginal people knew this shore well and had cut steps down the sheer cliffs to gain access to marine food sources.
European explorers soon realised the dangers of the coastline and gave it a wide berth. However, the number of shipwrecks that still occurred gave it the title of The Shipwreck Coast.
Early settlement was based on pastoral runs such as Glenample, and a small fishing port developed at Port Campbell.
Although relatively small and narrow, the park plays a vital role in fauna conservation in the region. It supports small populations of the Hooded Plover, a nationally significant species, as well as important populations of Rufous Bristlebird, Swamp Antechinus and Glossy Grass Skink.
Well-established tea-tree heathlands are important to the Rufous Bristlebird, while wetland areas provide food and nesting sites for the Australasian Bittern, Lewins Rail and Swamp Skink. Eastern Grey Kangaroos shelter in the denser vegetation of the park but frequently move into nearby farmland to feed.
The park contains a wide range of remnant coastal vegetation types including important coastal heathlands, shrubby sand dunes, clifftop grasslands and shrublands, open forests, woodlands and swamps. Combined, these environments support a remarkable diversity of plants.
Due of the extensive depletion of native vegetation in the surrounding region, many plant species are of regional significance. Important plant species include the Swamp Greenhood, Clover Glycine, Square Raspwort, Lime Fern and Metallic Sun-orchid.
Looking After the Park
>> Stay on tracks and boardwalks at all times.
>> Please take rubbish away with you.
>> Fires are not permitted.
>> Dogs and other pets are not permitted, except for dogs in cars on the main tourist roads.
>> Camping, and sleeping overnight in vehicles in the park, are not permitted.
>> Please do not disturb or remove any plants or animals.
How to Get There
The 250 km drive from Melbourne via the Princes Highway takes about three hours. A more scenic but longer and winding route, the famous Great Ocean Road takes about five hours. Organised bus tours are available. Vic Roads Touring Guide Map 100 gives additional detail.
Port Campbell Visitor Information Centre
The Port Campbell Visitor Centre is a generally accessible building, although there are no access-enhancing design features. There is a slight lip at the doorway. A designated accessible parking space is provided in the car parking area, and there is also a set down area.
Port Campbell foreshore
The designated accessible parking space at the Port Campbell foreshore is large and flat but not well positioned for views of the beach. A ramp gives alternative beach access to the stairs, although it is quite steep. A new toilet block has been built at the nearby Surf Life Saving Club.
The Twelve Apostles is a high profile tourist site and offers sealed paths to viewing areas, and a large sealed car park with designated accessible parking spaces. Accessibility is generally very good. The vegetation is low coastal heathland, allowing uninterrupted views. Toilets have recently been installed in a complex opposite this site.
Loch Ard Gorge
There is good access to the Wreck Lookout at Loch Ard Gorge. The track leading down to the beach in the gorge is well constructed but has steep slopes and steps. There are no toilets or picnic facilities at this site, but both are available at Port Campbell and at Twelve Apostles. From the car park a number of walks along the coast can be enjoyed on good tracks.
At Glenample Homestead, a garden picnic area with shelter, barbecues and toilets is available. Toilets meet many access criteria. The rear door is the main public entry door to the heritage building, but because it has a range of obstacles and steps, access for people with a disability is via the front door (reached by an unmarked gravel path). A step must be negotiated to enter the building.
Viewing platforms at London Bridge are generally accessible, allowing visitors to enjoy the stunning coastal and ocean views. The slope of the car park is the main obstacle for visitors with impaired mobility. The viewing platforms are good, lacking only a few details to comply fully with current access standards.
The first of the viewing platforms at the Grotto is easily accessible by a boardwalk and pathway from the car park, and the other viewing areas are also generally accessible. The rock formations below are accessed via many stairs. There are steep gradients on the boardwalk between the two viewing platforms. The track is not compliant with current access standards but it does have a reasonable surface and is a good width.
>> Carlisle State Park
>> Floating Islands Nature Reserve
>> Melba Gully State Park
>> Otway National Park
1. Bicycle Touring
3. Boat Tours: Motorised
4. Boat Tours: Non-motorised
6. Coach/Bus Tours
8. Four Wheel Drive Tours
9. Horse Riding
10. Mountain Bike Riding
11. Sea Kayaking
12. Spotlight Tours / Nightwalks