12 Apostles - Great Ocean Road
The 12 Apostles is one of Australia's most iconic attraction and an amazing year-round destination. However, summer and even shoulder seasons often bring heavy crowds. Read our tips about the best time to visit:
Season (Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring)
While weather conditions don't vary heavily throughout the year, the tourist crowds definitely fluctuate:
Summer (December, January, February): Best conditions with usually dry and clear weather but also the most crowds. It's peak season and the rates are at their highest (book well in advance for a nearby hotel). 12 Apostles is overrun with visitors during the day.
Autumn (March, April, May): Fewer visitors but still very busy. Even more so during Easter holiday and on weekends. The weather gets a little cooler.
Winter (June, July, August): The best months if you'd like to enjoy a quieter visit. However, it can still be busy on weekends. Excellent months for taking photos from the large viewing platform without hundreds of others pushing each other shoulder to shoulder. The downside is the weather: While definitely not freezing, it's cooler and the most rainfall occurs in winter.
Spring (September, October, November): It's getting warmer but also crowded again. Expect a packed place, especially when the tour busses arrive around 12.
Time of Day (Avoiding the Crowds)
During summer and in the shoulder seasons the place is usually very crowded. In summer, we arrived after midday and got the feeling there were at least a thousand people from many different countries. It's almost impossible to enjoy the scenery with many people next to you taking pictures or being asked to take a photo of them.
How to avoid the crowds? Early Morning is the best time of the day to dodge them when the buses from Melbourne have not yet arrived. It is also the best time for a perfect shot of the famous rock formations. The Twelve Apostles are the most popular place along the Great Ocean Road and very busy except early morning and in the evening. The light conditions for the famous picture of the 12 Apostles are also best in the morning. We know it's hard, but get up very early and try to be there at sunrise: Sunrise / Sunset Times Princetown TOP TIP: Stay close to the 12 Apostles to enjoy the stunning rock formations early morning. Best located is the Clifton Beach Lodge with clean cabins equipped with everything you need.
In general the Southern Ocean has a strong influence on the climate. It keeps the winter warmer and the summer cooler. In summer the sun is extreme, but it is not too hot always a fresh breeze. Most stable weather in summer from January to March. Most precipitation in winter from June to August. Be prepared for extremely windy conditions.
The Twelve Apostles are limestone rock stacks by the Great Ocean Road and part of "The Port Campbell National Park". Schedule some time to visit the collection of wave-sculpted rock formations and the Twelve Apostles. Currently, there are eight Apostles, the ninth one collapsed in 2005. These limestone stacks were formed by erosion. The harsh weather conditions from the Great Southern Ocean together with wind resulted in erosion of the soft limestone over thousands of years.
- Opening Hours: None. You can visit at any time of the day, even at night.
- Fee: No entrance fee. Even parking is free.
- Parking: Large car park, no fee.
- Time Spent: Most tours via busses spend about an hour here.
- Facilities: Kiosk and restrooms
- View: From platforms (see below)
Location: Google Maps 12 Apostles
Viewing Platforms (Accessibility)
There are 4 connected viewing areas which are very close to each other and easily accessible from the parking area. The distance from the parking lot to the main viewing area is approximately 280 metres and accessible for wheelchairs and strollers. The main viewing area can be reached via a staircase leading down to the platform. There is a separate path for wheelchairs to access this area. The platform is over 2 metres wide and quite long. Find more details about the other platforms and accessibility here: 12 Apostles Accessibility Information
How to Visit
- Viewing Platforms: The 12 Apostles Lookout is the most obvious way to visit and enjoy the stunning view. Besides our timing tips on how to avoid the crowds (see above) there is also one platform which is sometimes less crowded: The one between Gibsons Steps and the 12 Apostles Visitors Centre. However, make sure to try every platform/lookout since it’s definitely worth seeing the this attraction from various angles.
- Helicopter Tour: A heli tour is by far the the most amazing way to view the 12 Apostles. However, it’s also the most expensive one. You’ll not only be amazed by this view of the 12 Apostles, you’ll also notice that the whole fantastic coastline looks different from the air. Most visitors who did this ride loved it.
- View from the Beach: Just drive 1 km east/south to Gibson Steps. From there you can access the beach and watch two of the rock stacks (Magog and Gog) from very close. You just walk down the steps to the beach, which takes about 10 minutes. The walk to the stacks takes another 10-15 minutes. Please keep in mind that the accessibility depends on the tide. The area is usually open year-round.
- Dodge the crowds by visiting either very early or maybe at sunset (see details above)
- Be prepared for quickly changing weather and heavy winds
- Driving with a rental car: Make sure you fill up gas, as the stations are scarce along the way to The Twelve Apostles.
- Don't miss the Grotto at low tide! It is located 20 km northwest of the Twelve Apostles behind London Bridge.
The picture below with the snake shows a venomous tiger snake which is common to the coastal areas in the south of Australia.