• Sam Wilson

How Many Apostles?

The Most Photographed Sea Stacks In Australia

“The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s most famous road-touring routes. It takes travellers past world-class surfing breaks, through rainforest and calm seaside towns, and under koala-filled tree canopies. It shows off heathlands, dairy farms and sheer limestone cliffs and gets you up close and personal with the dangerous crashing surf of the Southern Ocean. - The Lonely Planet

With a description like that, how could I not want to visit this part of our country. This is exactly what I did over the New Year after David passed away.

Everywhere you can stop there are amazing sights like this

I planned a road trip that saw me do a 3000km loop in 10 days from the Central Coast to Mollymook to Lakes Entrance, Lakes Entrance, Phillip Island, the ferry over to Sorrento then Port Campbell for a helicopter flight on New Year’s Day, then Ned Kelly country and Bendigo before stopping by Ettamogah Pub and of course the obligatory overnight stay at Gunnedah with the Dog On The Tuckerbox.

Road Trip Highlights

This was a trip of many firsts -

  • First Christmas as a widow

  • First time to Victoria

  • First car ferry trip

  • First time in a helicopter

I set off on Boxing Day, heading down the Princes Highway following the amazing Coastline. The first night I stopped at Mollymook and had dinner looking over the ocean. They had cocktails and I decided it would be rude not to! From then on I decided to have a cocktail every night of this particular trip (I also wore a different pair of happy pants each day but let's not focus on that). This was not an easy feat everywhere, particularly in Gunnedah on the last night on the way home. It was probably the worst Fruit Tingle I’ve ever had, but hey it got me to my 10 out of 10 for that trip.

I’m not going to lie and say it was all fabulous - there were some times that I just didn’t want to keep going and it definitely had it’s lonely moments. I know that there were nights that I just got takeaway and had it in my room, and I definitely didn’t stop and take as many photos as I would have liked, but I did it and kept going.

As it was over the Christmas/New Year period, I had booked all my accommodation so I had to make myself follow the plans.

These 2 stacks are named Tom & Ava, after the 2 only survivors from a shipwreck at this location in 1878

There was one night in particular in Port Campbell - it was New Year’s Eve, the middle of summer and it was freezing! I was really sad but told myself all I have to do is go out, have the nightly cocktail before coming back and hibernating in my room. However, finding a cocktail proved harder than I thought. I ended up at a pizza restaurant, however I wasn’t able to have a cocktail without ordering food as per the regulations.

The owner must have picked up on my sadness and went out of her way to help me. So what I had to do was order a pizza to have a cocktail, but I didn’t have to eat the pizza there, I could do takeaway. I may have embarrassed myself by getting teary but I made it, and had a lovely Espresso Martini to boot while I waited.

The next day was New Years Day of course, and I was hoping to do a helicopter flight over the 12 Apostles. The only problem was that when I tried to book online and email, the minimum booking was for 2 people - they had graciously offered for me to do a solo tour, I just had to pay for 2 people!

I went anyway hoping to see if it could be different in person. It was again a cold and wet day, but the staff were very helpful. If they had odd numbers I was welcome to join in with another group. No guarantees, but if I was happy to wait they would do their best.

So yay, eventually early in the afternoon I was able to do the flight - the sky cleared a little and it was just magical. I have done a few helicopter flights since then, but nothing will ever top that first one.

That trip was really more about being brave and getting to start my second life more than it was about photography. It wasn’t until I went on another tour with Brett Wood Photo Art in 2018 that I got to visit that area again and really appreciate it from a photography perspective.

Gog & Magog - On the other side of the viewing platform for the 12 Apostles

It was on this tour with Brett, that he taught me how to use a Polariser and it was at Hopetoun Falls that I finally understood how they work and what they can do to your photo with making the greens ‘pop’ and slowing the water down a bit more in the middle of the day if needed.

'Framed Flow' - Hopetoun Falls

While a Polarising Filter can be a great tool, I am terrible at remembering that I have it on which can really ruin a photo that is really difficult to fix with editing. These days I only tend to use them when I’m shooting waterfalls.

Many visitors driving the Great Ocean Road do a round trip in one day starting and ending in Melbourne. While this is totally doable, and totally understandable with time restraints, try to extend this to at least 3 nights if you possibly can.

'Surreal' - Magic Rock

The tour I did was for 4 nights and it was all based around Port Campbell so I’m definitely keen to get back and fully experience more of this beautiful area.

Here are my Top 10 spots all within an hour of Port Campbell -

  1. Twelve Apostles -

  2. Baker’s Oven

  3. Gibson Steps

  4. The Grotto

  5. Magic Rock

  6. Tom & Ava

  7. Helicopter Flight

  8. Hopetoun Falls

  9. Redwood Forest

  10. Otway Lighthouse

An enchanting rock formation known as The Grotto

Tip - photograph the iconic shot (it’s iconic for a reason), then spend a little time exploring nearby, you never know what gem you might find.

'Still Standing' - Baker's Oven

The story of the iconic 12 Apostles as told by The Lonely Planet

That’s it for now

Next up we travel to the Snowy Mountains of NSW and surrounds from a couple of trips I did earlier in 2021, join here to see more of the stunning Central Coast if you haven't already subscribed.

Sunrise view from Charlotte Pass in NSW Snowy Mountains

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