The Great Ocean Road is one Victoria’s most naturally stunning sights, and Loch Ard Gorge is a dramatic highlight of an already dramatic journey. It was at this spot in 1878 where a ship carrying settlers from England to Melbourne was tragically wrecked on the rocks. Of the 54 passengers aboard the ship only two of the passengers survived—a teenage boy who heroically rescued a fellow teenage girl. After spending the night in a coastal sea cave, the duo found help with local settlers after scaling the rugged cliffs. Today those cliffs have a set of stairs that lead to the golden sands, where a protected beach is tucked beneath the towering, time-sculpted bluffs. Though the weather can be spectacularly stormy in winter, summer days are an invitation for picnicking, swimming, and sunbathing, and the striated cliffs form a natural amphitheater of coastal beauty around you. The gorge is located just a ten minute drive from the famous Twelve Apostles, which are arguably the most popular and visited site on Australia’s Great Ocean Road. At the top of the cliffs above the gorge, a modest cemetery has a memorial dedicated to the victims of the Loch Ard shipwreck—just one of an estimated 700 ships that have sank off this southern coast.
Loch Ard Gorge is located three hours from Melbourne and ten minutes from Port Campbell. Early morning hours are often calmest, and the waves in winter can sneak through the gorge entrance to create rough, dangerous waters.