Travelling along the winding and narrow Great Ocean Road there are plenty of fascinating attractions and views for you to enjoy. Just a hop, skip and a jump away from the famous 12 Apostles is the stunning self-contained beach known as Loch Ard Gorge.
A pillar of the Shipwreck Coast, Loch Ard Gorge has a story as amazing as its view.
Departing England on March 1st 1878, Loch Ard had almost completed its journey when it wrecked on June 1st along the Shipwreck Coast. Expecting to moor in Melbourne, the crew had anticipated spotting land when they ran into an incredibly thick fog. With no visibility of the Cape Otway lighthouse and faulty equipment onboard the ship, the captain was unaware how close the ship was to the coast. At approximately 4 am, when the fog lifted, the captain realised the ship was running into cliff faces. Though the captain and crew worked their hardest to avoid the cliffs, the ship ran into a reef and within 15 minutes the Loch Ard had sunk.
Of the 54 people on board, only two would survive the wreck. Though the ship never entered Loch Ard Gorge, the beach that we visit today is where the two survivors washed ashore.
The first survivor, Eva Carmichael, survived by clinging onto the ship’s spar for five hours. After calling out for hours and hours, the second survivor, Thomas R. Pearce, saved her. Thomas had survived by hanging onto an overturned lifeboat, and eventually found his way to shore. However, after reaching the beach he heard Eva’s calls and returned to the water to find her. The shore they sheltered on became known as a Loch Ard Gorge.
Today, Loch Ard Gorge is a popular and beautiful beach. Wander down the staircase and emerge on what feels like your own private beach. Hundreds of years of waves crashing and winds howling have etched the offshore stacks to create the beautiful scene you see today. Though the wide ocean beyond the limestone is ferocious, this beach is calm and easily accessed at almost any tide.
The two large stacks you can see from the beach were once connected by a magnificent natural bridge. In 2009 after centuries of fighting with the ocean, the bridge collapsed, leaving the two stacks with nothing but a void between them. They’ve since been named Tom and Eva in memory of the young travellers who found their safety on the shores here.
When visiting Loch Ard Gorge be sure to come prepared. During the winter when the ocean winds are bellowing the spray from crashing waves can reach the shore, so a raincoat is beneficial. During the warmer months though you’d be silly to forget a towel to dry off with. Take off your shoes and roll up your pants before having a frolic in the shallows, watching as the ocean continues to carve out this ever-changing scenery.
Loch Ard Gorge is one of the most serene and calm beaches along the Great Ocean Road, and with such a fascinating history it is an absolute must-stop on your trip!
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