Not the Apostles
Most people have no idea that they’ve even visited the mighty Gog and Magog on their Great Ocean Road trip, even if they’ve posted for a photo in front the huge formations.
When looking at the 12 Apostles from the official viewing area, you’ll be facing west, if you turn around, the two huge bits of stone that you see aren’t actually part of the group of Apostles and are instead called Gog and Magog.
Where To Get The Best View Of Gog & Magog
Head straight to the 12 Apostles car park and walk directly out to Castle Rock which is the main viewing area. About three hundred metres into the walk, you’ll suddenly see the Apostles on your right, keep walking to the left and follow the path to the end.
Right at the end of the track, you’ll be able to see five of the 12 Apostles to your right. Turning to your left and looking east/back towards Melbourne you’ll see two more stacks. The common tourist would call these the Apostles, but officially they are named Gog & Magog and are not a part of the Apostles.
To get a close up view from down on the beach, drive out of the 12 Apostles car park and head back east for about one kilometre. Pull into the Gibson Steps car park. Gibson Steps lead down to the beach at the base of Gog and Magog.
A lot of the time, Gibson Steps are closed due the tide being too high and making the beach way too dangerous, other times, the tide is so far out that you can walk all the way out to Gog and Magog.
History Of Gog & Magog On The Great Ocean Road
How Gog & Magog Formed
Over 20 million years ago, this entire area was at the bottom of a super deep ocean. For thousands of years, fish and plants that died and sunk to the bottom of this ocean along with other debris and sand from the rivers, it all compacted and formed the Sandstone and Limestone coastline that is there today.
For millions years, the powerful swell and waves from the Southern Ocean have smashed against the coastline and eaten away the stone. The water level has changed many times since it first retreated and the current level was reached about 6,000 years ago after the last Ice Age.
At first, large caves like Thunder Cave would have formed which would eventually turn into large arch ways. With more time, the centre of the arch would fall out and a “stack” would be formed. In the future, Gog & Magog will collapse and other similar stacks will be created along the coast.
Where The Name Came From
George Bass was the first European colonial to explore the area. In 1798, he named these stacks, the Apostles and Mutton Bird Island “The Sow and Piglets”. Mutton Bird Island was “The Sow”/mother pig and the much smaller stacks to the east were the “Piglets”.
During the gold rush era in the 1850’s, immigrants traveling past this area would also refer to it as the Sow and Piglets, using it as a landmark to know that they’re near the end of their journey from Europe to Melbourne.
In the 1920’s in an effort to attract more tourists to the area, the locals renamed these two stacks ‘Gog & Magog’, the nine stacks to the west became ‘The Apostles’ (later to become the ‘12 Apostles’) and “The Sow” was named Mutton Bird Island due to the Short-tailed Shearwaters AKA Mutton Birds that nest there each year.