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The 12 Apostles are well known worldwide - and they're certainly striking and beautiful. But if you really want to sink your feet into the sand and immerse yourself in a fascinating, true story on the stunning Port Campbell National Park coastline, travel another 5-ish minutes west on the Great Ocean Road to the magnificent Loch Ard Gorge. (The beautiful paintings included here are by artist Gillian Lodge.)
Allow around three hours to fully explore the area via self-guided walks, information boards and cliff-top cemetery, which reveal an enchanting shipwreck story bordering on the romantic.
The Loch Ard, an iron clipper rumoured to be jinxed, set sail from Gravesend (I'm not kidding!) in Scotland in 1878 with 54 passengers and crew on board for a 3-month voyage to Melbourne.
It struck Muttonbird Island near the Loch Ard Gorge. 52 people died and eight-foot high wreckage was spread across the golden sands, along with the only 4 bodies that were retrieved - and later buried in the clifftop cemetery in coffins made from piano cases!
Tom survived, was recuperating in a sea cave and heard cries from the water. He valiantly dashed out into the raging sea to rescue Eva, who was clinging for dear life to a chicken coop and then a ship's oar.
Tom rescued Eva, they sheltered some more in the cave, drank some brandy and, unfortunately for the romantics amongst us, did not go on to live happily ever after, but went their separate ways. The full story has been told and romanticised ever since. Read more delicious details here.
The Loch Ard Peacock, a 1.5-metre tall, priceless porcelain statue, was recovered intact. It, and other great relics from the Loch Ard and other ill-fated ships, is on view at Warrnambool's Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum, where you can also re-live the story through an amazing sound and laser show called Shipwrecked. The museum also hosts the Loch Ard Lantern Walk - if you dare!
Tips: Bring fly repellant and water, and do a loo stop beforehand, as there are no amenities.
You can sit back and relax while exploring the great Great Ocean Road with Wildlife Tours , or maybe go wild with one of their other tours to some of our best attractions.
Wonderful story and I love the 12 Apostles. They are magnificent at anytime of the day. The birdlife there is facinating too. The birds move from apostle to apostle and add a sense of life to the monothic rock formations that meet the sea like no other part of a coast that Ive ever seen.
By Jody Kimber - senior reviewer Tuesday, 19th of April @ 01:16 am