Ancient Staircase Carved Into The Cliffs On The Great Ocean Road
Explore the beach just near the 12 Apostles below Gog & Magog via a staircase that was built hundreds of years ago, carved into the ancient sandstone cliffs.
How To Get To Gibson Steps
If you’re heading along the Great Ocean Road from the east (Melbourne), Gibsons Steps are well signed and about one kilometre before the 12 Apostles car park in the Port Campbell National Park on the Shipwreck Coast.
We suggest that you head to the Apostles first. Here you can use the facilities, grab a coffee and take in the sights from the official viewing area.
When you get to the end of the viewing area, you’ll get a full view of the Apostles to your right/west and when you turn to the left, you’ll see the two Sandstone Stacks named Gog & Magog. On a calm enough day and when the tide is out, you might see some people down on the beach below Gog & Magog, they would have gotten down to the beach via the Gibson Steps staircase.
It’s a short drive from the 12 Apostles car park to Gibson Steps or a 2 kilometre walk on a track that leaves the Apostles Visitor Centre.
A lot of the time Gibson Steps will be closed by a large gate, this is due to rough weather or high tides that make it way too dangerous to head down the stairs. Other times, the tide will be right out past Gog & Magog.
History of Gibson Steps
The Sandstone & Limestone of this entire coastline formed over 300 million years ago below a really deep ocean. Fish and plants that died sunk to the bottom of the ocean, along with sand from the rivers and other debris. The massive amount of pressure from the water above compacted what was at the bottom, turning it to sedimentary rock called Sandstone.
Limestone is Sandstone that’s made up of 50% fossils or and makes up the majority of the huge cliffs that the Gibson Steps are carved into.
These stairs have been used for hundreds of years, first by the local indigenous people, then by the early colonials in the 1800’s.
Where The Name Came From
In the late 1800’s, Mr. Gibson was the owner of the land that sat at the top of the staircase. He lived nearby the staircase at the well-known Glenample Homestead. Mr. Gibson and his homestead became famous when the Loch Ard ship wrecked close by. He helped rescue the only two survivors, Tome and Eva, Eva recovered at Glenample Homestead over three months. Read more about Loch Ard Gorge and the shipwreck here.
Mr. Gibson would use these steps regularly to access the beach. He commissioned workers from his farm to improve the staircase so that he could go fishing at the bottom and collect cargo.
Other people from the area would also use these stairs to bring in cargo by ship until nearby areas become more established and built facilities that made it much easier to access and unload vessels.
The name ‘Gibson Steps’ came from Mr. Gibson’s use and work done to the staircase, although him and his works were not the ones who built the famous steps down to the beach.
Kirrae Whurrong Tribe Are The Ones Who Carved Gibson Steps
The Kirrae Whurrong (Girai wurrung) people occupied this area for tens of thousands of years before European colonisation and carved the stairs now known as Gibson Steps.
Before Mr. Gibson improved the staircase, it was more of a jagged track that lead from the cliff top to the beach.
These steps were carved at least several hundreds of years ago, although some local Indigenous people claim that the staircase has been there for thousands of years.
Accommodation & Camping Near Gibson Steps
There are loads of places to stay near Gibson Steps. No camping is allowed on the beach or in the car park, although there are two towns nearby and other more remote options.
About 10 kms to the east (back towards Melbourne) is Princetown. In the centre of the very small town there is an Inn with the Apostles Camping Park & Cabins across the road. There’s also the option to pitch a tent on the old Princetown cricket oval for around $15 per night (there are facilities there too). If you head to the cricket oval, you’ll be sure to see dozens of Kangaroos in the morning and late afternoon.
If you head about 12 kilometres to the west of Gibson Steps, you’ll arrive at one of the most beautiful beach towns on the entire Great Ocean Road, Port Campbell. Here, you’ll find loads of options from luxury accommodation to affordable hostels and camping parks.
Gibson Steps is surrounded by loads of camping spots in the Port Campbell National Park and Great Otway National Park. Aire Crossing campsite is a nice and cosy campsite 50 metres or so from a beautiful slow moving river in the Otways forest. Johanna Beach Campground is just behind one of the most spectacular and rugged beaches on the entire coastline.