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Loch Ard Gorge

Home > Melbourne > Outdoor | Free | Escape the City | Day Trips
by Vanessa M (subscribe)
I am always looking out for new experiences, wherever I may find myself.
Published January 27th 2016
The Twelve Apostles are far from the only thing to see on the Great Ocean Road; just look at their neighbour, Loch Ard Gorge. This small gorge is about as picturesque as you can get and also comes with it's own tale of survival.

The fascinating history of this gorge centres around the disastrous end to the journey of the Loch Ard in 1878, which was making the three month long voyage from Scotland to Melbourne. The ship was a day away from arrival when heavy mist in this area caused it to miss the lighthouse on Cape Otway (the first point of land seen for most of those three months).

When morning came and the mist lifted, the ship was so close to the cliffs that it couldn't be saved, as the winds and currents were too strong. The ship went down, taking with it the kind of cargo that reflected Melbourne's affluence at the time, hats, pianos, linen and more, as well as railway irons, lead etc.

Of the 54 people aboard, 52 died. That did not include apprentice Tom Pearce, who had managed to launch a lifeboat. It capsized in the water, but he managed to hang on and found shelter from the waves underneath it, making it to land with the tide. Eva Carmichel also survived, having been washed overboard, and was rescued by Tom. They sheltered in one of the caves at the back of the gorge until Tom scaled the cliff and went to get help.

Despite hopes at the time, the two did not fall in live; Eva returned to Ireland, while Tom became a local celebrity for a while and kept up his career at sea.

Today Loch Ard Gorge still holds potential for real romance, with its beautiful setting now safely accessible by a flight of stairs from the car park at the back.

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Loch Ard Gorge is a place you will remember forever

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One of the caves

A clifftop walk takes you out to the end of the ridge to the left of the gorge, where you can get a look back at the scene, as well as some of the unique formations all along this coastline (foliage prevents any good views until the very end though).

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Looking back down Loch Ard Gorge from the end of one of the short walks here

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You get a good view of the coastline here

A second clifftop walk takes you to even more formations, some quite iconic themselves.

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There are limestone stacks all along this part of Victoria's coastline

The stacks around here were created by same process as the Twelve Apostles (rough surf wearing away at the rock) and this is a good place to see the different stages all at once.

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The Razorback formation

I stopped at Loch Ard Gorge on a Sightseeing Australia Day Tour and did all the walks at the site within 45 minutes, but didn't have much time to relax and take in the setting. If you want to do it yourself, the spot is around three hours from Melbourne, between Princetown and Port Campbell.
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Why? It's a beautiful spot with a fascinating history
When: Any day
Where: Between Princetown and Port Campbell on the Great Ocean Road
Cost: Free
Your Comment
Should it be cape "Otway" rather than "Ottoway" mentioned in your article?
by DrGunner (score: 1|20) 1438 days ago
Your article doesn't mention the Loch Ard peacock which was on this ship and is housed at Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum. Also there is a sound and light show called Shipwrecked based on this story.
by Belinda Price (score: 2|413) 1451 days ago
Loch Ard looks a beautiful swimming beach but, in fact, is VERY dangerous to swim in if you do not know enough about tides and currents. Your article talks about the beauty but does not mention the danger!
by louba (score: 0|6) 1451 days ago
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