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General Information About Port Campbell
Port Campbell has a resident population of about 450, but attracts a huge number of visitors, due in no small part to its proximity to the coastal scenery at the 12 Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge. The town has one pub and a couple of restaurants and good number of takeaway food vendors who cater to the passing parade of tourists who pass through the town. The township is situated at the edge of a small square bay and a few properties have views of the bay, but none have views of the spectacular scenery of the 12 Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge etc. They are located about 7 − 12 kilometres away, and despite the fact that every accommodation property has pictures of the 12 Apostles in their advertising brochures, you won’t see them from your room.
Port Campbell is quite small so just about everything is within walking distance and the beach at Port Campbell is quite sheltered and offers a safe swimming location.
Port Campbell is not considered to be a getaway destination as the vast majority of visitors come to look at the scenery and not to wander around the township or to drink latte’s in coffee shops, you only have to walk up and down the main shopping centre to see everything is aimed at the passing traffic with fast food outlets and shops selling tourist bric a brac.
Access to sea level views of the 12 Apostles are via a series of steps cut into the cliffs by the owner of Glanample station, Hugh Gibson in the late 1880's. Glenample and the Gibson family became well known after the wreck of the sailing ship Lochard
One of the most visited attractions along the Great Ocean Road, the Twelve Apostles are a series of limestone towers carved out of the coastline by the southern ocean. Originally called the Sow and piglets by early seamen, today there are only 8 of the original 12 left standing as the sea has continued to erode the coastline . The site is managed by government controlled, parks department and has a visitor centre with a small cafe, a large car park which is usually busy with bus loads of day trippers coming from Melbourne. The visitor centre connects to a series of paths and boardwalks which take in views along the coastline. Immediately behind the car park is a helicopter charter business which does scenic flights over the coastline.
Loch Ard Gorge
Loch Ard Gorge is a bit of an anti climax as there is not very much to see , just a series of steps leading down into a small gorge. It has local significance as it is the site of the wreck of the Loch Ard, a clipper ship which struck an offshore reef and sank on the night of May 31 1878. Of the 54 passengers and crew only two survived, Eva Carmichael and Tom Pearce who went on to become quite famous at the time. However today there is no evidence of any wreck and the little else to see
Up until January 1990 London Bridge looked very much its namesake in London however on the 15 of January 1990 the arch closest to the shore collapsed leaving two visitors stranded on the isolated on the the newly created island. At some time in the future the second arch will collapse making two more apostles which will help redress the four lost over the last century
There are some suggestions that township of Peterborough became famous in 1856 following the wreck of the SS Schomberg but as there was no photography at the time and a very sparse population, and it was more likely that Peterborough came to prominence in 1908 when the Falls of Halladale ran aground just close to the mouth of the Curdies river. Photographs of the wreck became popular and as the wreck remained intact for several years and it became a tourist attraction with visitors making day trips from as far away as Warrnambool.
In later years the township became a popular fishing and getaway destination with a number of notable individuals building fishing shacks in the township, including a number of business leaders, politicians and even a prime minister.
Even today the township of Peterborough is virtually ignored by tourists and apart from one small pub, a general store and a caravan park there is little else in the town. .
Explore Port Campbell
Tours and Walks
Port Campbell and the adjoining township of Peterborough should be a mecca for walkers, with lots of impressive coastal scenery and with two national parks adjacent to the townships. The close proximity to the road should make it relatively easy to construct a walking track that connects the main scenic attractions along this iconic section of coastline, and with a total distance of about 20 kilometres (12 Apostles to The Bay of Islands) would be ideal for a one day walk. Accommodation close by in both Peterborough and Port Campbell means the walk could be split easily into two half day walks. Unfortunately the government bureaucracy that controls tourism and national parks hasn’t seen fit to look at this option, instead they have spent over $6million on a coastal walk between Apollo Bay and the 12 Apostles that rarely used almost impossible to get information about.
There are two short walks around Port Campbell, which take in some spectacular views. The Port Campbell Discovery walk starts from the Port Campbell Surf Lifesaving Club and crosses over Campbell’s Creek and then up a series of steps which lead to a pathway that takes you Two Mile Bay. The walk takes in views of the bay, and coastline towards the 12 Apostles and Sentinel rock. The round trip takes about an hour, depending on how many stops you make to take in the views. The steps at the initial part of the walk make it unsuitable for prams or wheelchairs The Loch Ard Gorge Walk is a series of three short walks that take you either side of of Loch Ard Gorge, one highlights the geology of the area, one takes in the history and includes the tiny cemetery where those who perished in the wreck of the Lochard are buried, and the third walk covers the local vegetation. All the walks have unique views of the coastline and take about 2 to 3 hours to complete (or an hour per walk) and are well signposted with information boards at significant points along the tracks
Around Port Campbell
There is not a lot to see in Port Campbell apart from the local museum which also houses the local visitor centre however the most interesting sight is a small shed next to the pier. It was built to store a rocket mortar rescue system. In 1878 ( a few years after the Loch Ard tragedy) a rocket-and-mortar crew was established at Port Campbell. The crew fired lines to distressed ships enabling those on board to haul themselves to safety. The shed is located along the road leading down to the pier and the equipment is displayed through wire gate.
Eating Out in Port Campbell
Like many of the smaller towns along the Great Ocean Road, Port Campbell has a disproportionate number of restaurants for its size, and the majority of these cater to passing traffic with fast food taking preference to fine food and most of these close when the buses and tourists leave.
They include a couple of take away restaurants, a small pizza shop, a hamburger cafe and a casual dining restaurant which are all fairly close together and opposite the bay.
Anyone looking to eat in Port Campbell after 5 pm has a reduced range of options, with the main choices being the local pub ( The Port Campbell Hotel) or either, Karoa Restaurant and Bar or Waves restaurant.
Port Campbell restaurants have a reputation of closing early, with many visitors reporting arriving at 8 or 8:30 only to find the restaurant closed or in the process of closing - so as a general rule of thumb In Port Campbell - Eat Early .
Popular Restaurants in Port Campbell
coffee, cake and light meals. opposite the beach
Modern Aussie cuisine
Pizza and pasta - eat in or take away
Hamburgers, sandwiches foccacias.
Port Campbell Takeaway
popular fast food - fish and chips hamburgers etc .
Typical Aussie Menu open breakfast - lunch -dinner
Boutique Fish and Chips plus light meals
local Peterborough Pub
Flashpackers Port Campbell
Motel style accommodation at Backpacker prices - and upmarket backpacker style accommodation in the centre of Port Campbell. Close to shops and restaurants, clean, cheerful and friendly accommodation for travellers, families or small groups travelling on a budget.
Butterfly Farm Bed and Breakfast is a lovingly restored Edwardian country homestead situated on the Great Ocean Road a few minutes drive from Peterborough. An ideal base for touring the Great Ocean Rd.
Historic hotel, carefully restored to its former glory with 7 individually styled suites, each with private ensuite bathrooms. Double and family suites ( some with 2 person spas), dining room catering for up to 16 people and separate guest lounge and bar .
The Great Ocean Road Motor Inn is the only 4 star Motor Inn in Port Campbell. Accommodation consists of spacious, comfortable, tastefully decorated units with decks. Each apartment has been individually furnished. The motel features a range of guest facilities to ensure your stay is relaxed and enjoyable..
Most visitors to Port Campbell arrive by car or coach and even those without transport find getting around the township quite easy as the township is quite small, but such a small local population makes running a taxi business uncommercial so don’t plan on using a taxi service while in Port Campbell.
Port Campbell has no rail or air services but has a daily coach service that runs from Warrnambool. The coach leaves from the Warrnambool station at 1:30pm which means if you arrive on the Melbourne to Warrnambool train at 11:30am you have sufficient time to get lunch before getting on the Port Campbell coach. The trip takes about hour and stops a couple of stops along the way. There is a also a coach service that runs from Warrnambool three times per week ( Monday-Wednesday-Friday) and it stops at all the major scenic stops between Warrnambool and Port Campbell including Bay of Islands London Bridge and Loch Ard Gorge, this coach leaves at 8:30 am and goes all the way to Apollo bay arriving at about midday and then makes the return journey at about 1:30pm This service links up with Geelong to Apollo Bay coach providing a complete Geelong to Warrnambool (or vice versa) service along the Great Ocean Road.
Tours and Charters
Port Campbell has one local touring company who specialise in running mini bus tours of the area and are quite flexible with times and itineraries. There is also a fishing and scenic charters business which operates from the Port Campbell bay and they can be contacted via the service station in the middle of Port Campbell .
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Visit our Walks page for a detailed listing of walking tours around Port Campbell and the Great Ocean Road.