Port Campbell is a particularly attractive seaside village renowned for its rock and beach fishing. Set in the natural gorge of Campbells Creek, the settlement has one of the few sheltered moorings along this section of the coast.
Location: 257 km from Melbourne on Great Ocean Road.
Port Campbell Visitor Information Centre
26 Morris Street, Port Campbell, Victoria 3269
Ph: (03) 5598 6089 / 1300 137 255
Port Campbell nestles at the head of a tiny horseshoe-shaped bay with a creek sweeping in from one corner and a soft, sandy beach out front. Just off the Great Ocean Road between Princetown and Peterborough, Port Campbell is often overshadowed by its famous neighbours, the Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge. But the picturesque little township is a destination in its own right, and anyone who drives past it is missing out on a little slice of seaside history.
Cliffs on one side and towering Norfolk pines on the other offer little protection to this tiny bay. A blustery wind churns up a chop on the ocean and covers the beach with mounds of kelp. Fishermen cast lines from the small but sturdy jetty that juts defiantly into the bay.
Port Campbell National Park features an array of sheer cliffs overlooking offshore islets, rock stacks, gorges, arches, and blow-holes. As part of the Shipwreck Coast, it hosts several tourist attractions; including The Twelve Apostles, the London Arch (formerly London Bridge), Loch Ard Gorge, the Gibson Steps, and The Grotto. The ever changing landscape: as the cliffs and islands of the Shipwreck Coast consist of relatively fragile sandstone, they are constantly being eroded by the wind and waves which have pounded the coast for centuries.
Loch Ard Shipwreck Museum: this interesting museum was opened in 1993 and displays artefacts from five vessels which were wrecked on the coast near Port Campbell. The most well known was The Loch Ard, an iron clipper which was wrecked off the coast in 1878. There were only two survivors. Ph: (03) 5598 6463.
Town Lookout and Port Campbell Discovery Walk: this walk begins near Port Campbell Beach by crossing the mouth of Campbells Creek. About 1 km further on there is a walking trail clearly signposted on the left hand side of the road. This 3.8-km trail offers excellent views across Port Campbell to the township and winds around the cost to Two Mile Bay. It is an ideal introduction to the coastal heathland and terrain which characterises the area.
Fishing: Both Curdies Inlet and Gellibrand River are suitable for fishing. There is good ocean fishing at Newfield Bay, Clifton Beach and from the Port Campbell jetty. Be sure to obtain a Victorian Amateur Fishing Licence before you fish. Fishing is not permitted in Marine National Parks and Marine Sanctuaries.
Canoeing: The Gellibrand River is ideal for canoeing. Access is from the Gellibrand Inlet.
The Loch Ard is one of the many historic shipwrecks included in Victoria s Underwater Shipwreck Discovery Trail. Qualified divers can explore the wrecks of old wooden clippers, iron steamships and cargo and passenger vessels located along the coast and in Port Phillip Bay. Some of these wreck dives are suitable for beginners while other wrecks require the skills and experience of advanced divers.and Bay of Martyrs in Bay of Islands Coastal Park west of Port Campbell are witness to some of these events. Aboriginal people resisted European occupation for some years until overwhelmed by the settlers numbers, weapons and diseases.
Various diving charters are available, including open water and advanced dives, by local boat charters operators like Port Campbell Boat Charters. Shipwrecks range in depths from 6 to 24 metres. The shallower wrecks allow plenty of bottom time and are also excellent for snorkeling. The endless number of diveable reefs, gutters and bommies, all with magnificent colours, sponges, gorgonian fans and abundant marine life such as crayfish, make a Shipwreck Coast dive an experience of its own.
The township is named after Captain Alexander Campbell, manager of the whaling station at Port Fairy, who regularly traded between Victoria and Tasmania in the 1840s, using Port Campbell Bay as a shelter. It's said he first followed a whale into the bay, believing if it could make it through the gap in the reef, so could his boat.
The township was surveyed in the 1870s, however, it wasn't until the railway came to Timboon in 1891 that the area opened up, with agriculture and timber the main industries. Visitors prepared to travel the 17 kilometres from Timboon railway station by horse-drawn vehicles began staying at Port Campbell's guesthouses in the early 20th century. Today, the area surrounding the township features lush paddocks segmented by rows of ancient macrocarpa trees. The region also offers fresh berries in season, honey, cheeses, ice-cream and the Heytesbury Ridge vineyard, which can all be visited in an easy half or full-day drive.
Today, the area surrounding the township features lush paddocks segmented by rows of ancient macrocarpa trees. The region also offers fresh berries in season, honey, cheeses, ice-cream and the Heytesbury Ridge vineyard, which can all be visited in an easy half or full-day drive.