Loch Ard Gorge, Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road in Australia features stunning beaches, natural rock formations, and expansive views that extend for miles.

Explore Loch Ard Gorge

Just a short drive from the Twelve Apostles along the Great Ocean Road, you will find another impressive rock stack and a beautiful sandy beach surrounded by tall limestone cliffs. Mutton Bird Island offers a chance to see wildlife daily, and Loch Ard Gorge is known for being the site of a well-known shipwreck.

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Loch Ard Gorge is known for the famous shipwreck of the Loch Ard in 1878. Only two survivors, Tom Pearce and Eva Carmichael, made it to safety on the beach inside the gorge. The tragic teenagers briefly gained worldwide attention but did not marry. Visitors can walk along the sandy beach surrounded by tall sandstone cliffs and explore other short walks in the area, including a cemetery where the rest of the shipmates are buried.

Mutton Bird Island is located near Loch Ard Gorge. It used to be called 'The Sow' when the Twelve Apostles were known as 'The Sow and Piglets'. In spring and summer, the island is home to a colony of Short-tailed Shearwaters, also known as muttonbirds. Every evening from October to April, these birds often return to their burrows to feed their chicks. Visitors can witness this natural event before heading to Port Campbell for dinner and an overnight stay.

How to get there

Loch Ard Gorge is located along the Great Ocean Road, about a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Melbourne. There is a more direct route via Colac that takes three hours. It is a short drive from the Twelve Apostles and Port Campbell, where accommodation and dining options are available.

We suggest travelling with us on a Great Ocean Road 2 day tour to enjoy these and more Great Ocean Road attractions.

History of Loch Ard Gorge

Its name is not without reason

In 1878, a clipper ship named Loch Ard ran aground on Mutton Bird Island after an arduous journey from England.

On a dark and misty 1st of June, the ship entered the waters of Port Campbell and ran aground near Mutton Bird Island, resulting in the tragic loss of all passengers except for two survivors.

Tom washed ashore on a sandy beach and heard a woman's cries for help. He rescued Eva from the waters, and they called for help from locals. They became famous in Victoria, with Tom hailed as a hero. After three months, Eva returned to Europe and married an aristocrat. Tom continued as a sailor and later passed away in England at 49, remembered as a hero of his time.

Things have changed over time

In June 2009, the arch of Island Archway collapsed, resulting in two parallel rock formations. Landmarks along Australia's Great Ocean Road often deteriorate due to weather conditions or water damage, leading to a constantly evolving landscape.

The two rock pillars in the gorge have been named Tom and Eva in honour of the survivors of a 19th-century shipwreck.

It's famous

Loch Ard has a rich history and has been featured in various fictional stories and movies, such as The Pirate Movie in 1982 and the TV series Journey to the Centre of the Earth in 1999.

Explore activities and attractions at Loch Ard Gorge

Explore the walking trails

Jagged cliff tops, a sea breeze, and bushland surround the Loch Ard Gorge. Walking along the coastline's paths is a great way to experience the natural setting. You can find a map in the central car park showing all the walking paths in the area. Some notable paths include.

Geology Walk

The Geology Walk is a 900-meter loop trail with crushed rock and bitumen surfaces, offering ocean views and attractions like the Razorback and Island Arch. It is the quickest and easiest walking track in the area, making it a good choice for those with limited time.

Loch Ard Wreck Lookout

Visitors can view Loch Ard Gorge from a unique vantage point at this lookout, which seamlessly integrates with the nearby carpark and the 1.4km Wreck of the Loch Ard trail.

The Loch Ard shipwreck

Explore the region's history by walking along a 1.4-kilometer track that takes about 50 minutes to complete. The adventure includes staircases, slopes on bitumen and crushed rock, and a narrow section near the cemetery, making it a relatively easy hike.

Thunder Cave

The path is 1.1 kilometres long and connects to a 3.2km trail along the coast. The Thunder Cave area is just 550 metres from the carpark, making it easily accessible. The path has a gentle slope and is paved with concrete, making it wheelchair and pram-friendly. Visitors can enjoy views of the sparkling blue sea from the top of the clifftop rocks.

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Living on the Edge

The walk is 3.2 kilometres long and features lush bushland and sea salt air. It is recommended to bring a jacket to protect against the harsh wind along the track.

Mutton Bird Island Lookout

Mutton Bird Island offers a 100m level lookout point with a decked-out viewing platform, promising exceptional views and steps down to lower viewing platforms. It is an excellent spot for those looking to capture Instagram-worthy photos.

Relax on the beach in the sun

For a more relaxed experience, visitors can set up their own space on the sandy shores of Loch Ard Gorge to enjoy the sun and beautiful beach views. The area provides a peaceful retreat from the busy sightseeing activities of the day.

Visit the Twelve Apostles nearby

A visit to the Great Ocean Road is incomplete without seeing the Twelve Apostles, iconic rock formations emerging from the seashores. The massive stacks loom overhead from the beach, and photos don't capture their true beauty.