Port Campbell is a small seaside village in Victoria, Australia, set amidst some of the country’s most spectacular coastline. It lies towards the western end of Victoria’s famous Great Ocean Road, 12km west of the Twelve Apostles and 7 km east of London Bridge, in the Corangamite Shire.
The location and size of the inlet at ‘Port’ – as the locals tend to call their home – was originally noted in 1843 by a whaler, Captain Alexander Campbell. However, due to its relatively isolated position on the coastline it wasn’t until the late 1870s that the township was surveyed, and the first lots of land sold.
The history of Port Campbell revolves around the many shipwrecks that occurred on the coastline between Cape Otway to its east, and Port Fairy to Port’s west during the 1840s and 1920s. Settlers drawn to the area by the development of grazing and agricultural properties encouraged an increased level of cargo vessels to visit the southern parts of Australia. But, the formidable weather along the coastline swept many ships to their ruin, including the famous Loch Ard, in 1878. As such, the area has become known as the “Shipwreck Coast”.
Tourism in Port Campbell began in the 1880s with the development of the foreshore. At that time bathing boxes were introduced and pathways and steps were constructed down to the beach. Information about the wreck of the Loch Ard was also promoted and the town’s annual ball and concert were held during the holiday season. In later years, the foreshore was further beautified by a rotunda, dressing and shelter sheds and the planting of Norfolk Island pines.
Port today is home to around 350 permanent residents, and it continues to offer visitors to the Twelve Apostles and surrounding National Park a relaxed seaside atmosphere, as well as serving a small crayfishing industry.