Swim or explore the rocks below the lighthouse
Below the massive sandstone cliffs that the infamous Split Point Lighthouse sits on is the haunted Step Beach.
On a hot day when you’re touring the Great Ocean Road, Step Beach is a great place to stop in at for a swim and if you’re looking for somewhere a bit different and off the main tourist route, you could make this your first place to hit the water.
Step Beach is in the small town of Aireys Inlet and the beach is much less busy than those in Torquay, Anglesea or even the closer surrounding area. Other than the smaller crowds, the huge cliffs around the beach make an incredible backdrop and the swell is often calmer than nearby beaches. Due the angle the beach is facing, it’s often protected from strong winds and big waves, although it can still get rough and dangerous at times.
If it’s not a hot day or you just don’t feel like swimming but want to get out and about, then instead of heading into the water, try exploring around Castle Rock that’s on the western end of the beach, depending if the tide will allow you to safely get there.
The ghost of a girl that haunts Step Beach & the lighthouse
Right above the rocks that are on the southern end of Step Beach is Split Point Lighthouse.
Allegedly, the father of the family that occupied the lighthouse about 100 years ago murdered his daughter by taking her down to Step beach and then pushing her into the water from the rocks. Head over here to read more of the Split Point Lighthouse ghost story.
Rocks at the Southern end of Step Beach
From inside one of a bunch of caves
How to get down to Step Beach
You’ve got to head straight to Split Point Lighthouse and park to the north-east (back towards Melbourne).
Split Point Lighthouse sits above some large sandstone cliffs. Right at the bottom of the cliffs is Castle Rock which is accessed to the east via Step Beach.
Right at the gravel car park of Split Point Lighthouse, about 500 metres to the east of the actual lighthouse are the steps down to Step Beach. If you’re close to the lighthouse, just walk back towards Melbourne along the path that’s at the top of the cliffs. Once you get to a steep set of stairs that go down the 40 metre cliff, you’ll arrive at Step Beach.
North end of Step Beach
South End of Step Beach
How the cliffs were formed at Step Beach
Over 20 millions years ago, this entire area was submerged deep under water at the bottom of the ocean.
After a huge amount of time, fish and plants that died and sunk to the bottom of the ocean, alongside sand from nearby rivers and ocean debris all compacted and built up under the pressure of the massive volume of water above. Sandstone and Limestone was formed from the sediments.
The position of the land on Earth changed over millions of years to eventually end up where it is now, on the Bass Straight. The shores position has changed many times and the current water level was reached around 6,000 years ago at the end of the Ice Age. Since then, the ocean and wind has eroded the build up of Sandstone and Limestone (Limestone is Sandstone that has 50% or more fossils) to form the jagged cliffs that surround Step Beach and right along the coastline, through the Surf Coast, Shipwreck Coast and even right over to South Australia’s Limestone Coast.
Step Beach, the surrounding cliffs and the entire sandstone coastline will be for ever changing. Caves will form tunnels and archways will turn into towers known as ‘stacks’, just like the 12 Apostles and other huge chunks of stone further down the Great Ocean Road at the Port Campbell National Park on the Shipwreck Coast.