If I said I stopped and saw The Sow and Piglets, you’d probably think I was at a farm stay or something. Right?
Earlier this year I did just that while riding along the Great Ocean Road towards Port Campbell.
And what a sight it was.
The Sow and Piglets certainly isn’t a very touristy name for a bunch of limestone formations is it?
This was the name given to Mutton Bird Island and a series of limestone columns at the mouth of, and near The Loch Ard Gorge, about 4-1/2 hours west of Melbourne.
They were already noted on charts held by Superintendent C..J. La Trobe in 1846 when he passed by the area, and the formations may well have been named by explorers that mapped the southern coastline many years earlier.
Try as I might though, I couldn’t find out who named the formations originally.
Suffice to say The Sow and Piglet name stuck around until 1922, when someone thought to rename them “The Twelve Apostles“.
This was done for no other reason than for tourism.
The limestone columns are an average of 45m (148 feet) high, and look to be quite fragile.
With the constant buffeting around their base over thousands of years, I guess it was just a matter of time before nature reclaimed some of her creations.
This happened in spectacular fashion in July 2005 when one of the original nine columns, known as “Judas”, collapsed. That pile of rubble in the foreground of the photo below is what remains of “Judas”.
In 2009 another small column collapsed leaving just seven Apostles.
Four of the limestone formations are in close proximity to each other to the west, while the fifth is near the observation platform. The last two are to the east of the platform and lie just off the coastline.
There have been two other notable collapses in recent history. One in January 1990 (London Bridge) and another in June 2010 (The Island Archway).
Both are dramatized in the video at the end of this post.
The day we arrived at The Twelve Apostles it was a beautiful sunny day with little if any sea mist blowing in off the ocean. This was in contrast to the previous 2 days which were squally with light rain. The view from the observation platform was spectacular and worth every second we spent there.
We’ve since been told that the formations are even more spectacular at dawn and dusk when the sun casts shadows over the cliffs and the Apostles are in a sort of reddish, pink glow.
I’d really like to see that.
Maybe when we head down to Adelaide on our next riding holiday (2018 – gotta save up a bit first) we can stop over in the area for a day or two and see for ourselves.
As an aside.
In March 2016 it was reported (University Of Melbourne Link), that a further 5 Apostles were discovered 6km (3-1/2 miles) offshore and about 50m (165 feet) beneath the surface of the water.
The boffins who discovered the formations: PhD student Rhiannon Bezore, Associate Professor David Kennedy and Dr Daniel Ierodiaconou, have definitely got a sense of humor because they named the formations “The Drowned Apostles”.
Alas, I had some difficulty confirming the existence of “The Drowned Apostles”.
Someone mentioned something about scuba gear and a boat… dunno what they mean by that(?)
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