(Half of..) Australia's Own London Bridge: The London Arch
On the Shipwreck Coast, about 200 kilometres along the Great Ocean Road in the Port Campbell National Park, past the Apostles and about 10 minutes after the town of Port Campbell is the legendary London Bridge, or half of it anyway.
Until 30 years ago, the London Bridge was made up of two huge Limestone arch ways, although the arch way closest to the mainland collapsed, leaving an island arch.
Although half of the London Bridge did collapse, it’s still an incredible sight! It’s since been commonly referred to as the “London Arch”.
The arch is impressive, but it’s the whole area that creates the majestic feel, as just to the west of the London Bridge viewing platform are massive, straight 50 metre cliffs towering above a pristine, untouched beach. It’s worth a visit as you drive past and you won’t need to spend long here.
Finding The London Bridge
When you come into Port Campbell, follow the signs to continue the Great Ocean Road. The road will go over a river and wind up a hill, after a few minutes, you’ll be able to see the ocean on your left, again. From here, the well signed turn off to the London Bridge is only about another five minute drive.
From the car park, it’s a pretty flat 50 metre walk out to the viewing platform.
There’s one large main viewing area, then another one to the east about 100 metres away. You’ll be able to park, walk out to the London Bridge and get back to your car with plenty of photos within ten minutes or so.
"The London Bridge Has Fallen Down!"
On January 15, 1990, the arch closest to the mainland of the London Bridge collapsed. At the time, two cousins were standing on the arch as it began to crumble beneath them. They ran out to second arch way and remained there until they were rescued by a TV station helicopter hours later, after it first got some great footage.
The local Police Captain in Port Campbell had the incident bought brought to his attention when an elderly couple, the first to arrive on the scene, then drove to the police station and run in claiming “The London Bridge is falling down”. The Police Captain apparently said that people came in all of the time making the same joke, referring to the kids song, but this time, although it wasn’t ‘falling down’, half of it certainly had collapsed, leaving the tourists stranded for hours.
How The London Bridge Was Formed
More than 20 million years ago, this entire area was at the bottom of a super deep ocean. Sand from the river leading into the ocean, along with dead fish, plants and other debris that ended up on the bottom of the ocean compressed to form the Sandstone and Limestone coastline that exists today.
At a rate of around 1.5-2cms per year, the ocean has been eroding the stone cliffs. The arch way under the London Bridge would have once been much longer tunnel, then the weaker stone collapsed all around it and somehow the London Bridge formation remained standing.
It’s estimated that the London Bridge has been forming over the last 6,000 years since the current water level was reached after the last Ice Age.
In the future, the top of the arch will collapse and two large ‘stacks’ will be left, much like the 12 Apostles.
Accommodation & Camping Near The London Bridge
The closest place to the London Bridge for camping and accommodation is Port Campbell, which is one of the most beautiful towns along the entire coast with loads of places to stay. Consider staying at Choice Hotels in either Port Campbell or further west in Warrnambool.
You’ll find loads of options, from more luxurious accommodation, all the way to a cabin at a camping park or hostel.
If you’re heading further west, Warrnambool is largest city between Geelong and Adelaide and only another 45 minutes or so drive from the London Bridge.
In the case that you’re driving towards Melbourne, a couple of good campsites much further past the London Bridge and Apostles is Aire Crossing Campsite and Johanna Beach.
Places Nearby That Are Worth A Visit
Of course the 12 Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge, further back on the Great Ocean Road towards Melbourne are a must see! Chance are, you’re heading west. About 2kms or less than a five minute drive from the London Bridge is the Grotto and well worth a visit. It’s a few hundred metre walk out to the Grotto, but much different to the other stone formations and results from millions of years of erosion in the area.
Continuing past the Grotto, then stop in at the Bay Of Islands, soon after, you’ll then be at the end of the Great Ocean Road, although there are still plenty more places to stop in at before and after the finish line.