Gibson Steps on the Great Ocean Road

The only thing better than taking in the views of the Great Ocean Road from a lookout is getting down onto the beach to see them. This is exactly what you can do at the Gibson Steps next to the 12 Apostles.

Here is what you need to know about this fantastic experience.

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Gibson Steps
12 Apostles

Where are the Gibson Steps?

Gibson Steps are 10 minutes from Port Campbell and 2 minutes from the 12 Apostles. In fact, you can view a couple of the Apostles from the beach after you have climbed down the steps.

  • Apollo Bay to Gibson Steps – 85km, 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Cape Otway Lighthouse to Gibson Steps – 76km, 1 hour 10 minutes

Gibson Steps Parking

There is a loop car park directly off the Great Ocean Road for Gibson Steps. It is a surprisingly small car park and in busy times it is highly likely you might struggle to find somewhere to pull over.

We dropped in here between school holidays around midafternoon and found a park without any trouble.

It would be a different story in peak season – such as January or other school holiday periods – and Gibson Steps is also a popular spot at sunset.

If it is busy, you can park at the 12 Apostles and there is a 2.5km return walk to Gibson Steps from the 12 Apostles Visitor Centre.

Gibson Steps
Gibson Steps

How High & Hard are Gibson Steps?

From the top of the cliff, it is 70 metres down to the beach. The zig zagging Gibson Steps take you from the cliff top to the sand via 85 steps.

How hard the walk down and up is will depend on your mobility. The cement steps are moderately deep and will have a dusting of sand on them.

The stairs are quite narrow so we found, if you are there when other people are around, that you will get little rests on the way back up as you stop to let people pass.

If you have visited Beauchamp Falls (135 steps) or Hopetoun Falls (200 steps) and survived the walk there, the 85 steps here will feel very easy!

Once you have made it down to the beach, the sand is quite soft so your calves will get a good workout too.

Gibson's Steps Gate
Gibson’s Steps Gate

Best Time to go to Gibson Steps – beware of the tide

Gibson Steps are not always open. When there are dangerous surf conditions, a big gate part way down the steps blocks access to the beach.

Even when the gate is open, you should be aware of the tide when you go onto the beach. The best time to explore the beach and get the views of the Apostles is at low tide or mid tide when the water is still going out.

At high tide the water and waves can come right up the beach making some parts of the sand impassable. If the wind is blowing the water in, the conditions can also change quickly, especially on a rising tide, so it really is worth getting a tide forecast before making the walk down.

We were here mid tide, and it was going out so there was plenty of sand to walk on but the surf can come right up to the bottom of the steps.

Gibson Steps Beach
Gibson Steps Beach

Things to do on the Beach

Once you make it down onto the sand, you can do like we did and take in the amazing views of cliffs, the surf and the limestone pillars.

There is plenty of eye candy for photographers too, just make sure you have a cloth to keep your lens free of spray.

We also passed people with surf boards and fishing rods going up and down the steps.

We do not recommend swimming here – the currents and waves are very dangerous.

Gibson Steps Lookout
Gibson Steps Lookout

Gibson Steps Lookout & Secret Apostle Lookout

If the conditions are poor or you don’t like the idea of getting back up the steps, there is a nice lookout at Gibson Steps right there at the car park. It has great views of the coast and an Apostle or two.

Another option for a nice view and somewhere to park if Gibson Steps are busy is the Secret Apostle Lookout. It is a 600m walk or drive in the opposite direction to the 12 Apostles Visitor Centre. A short, slightly hilly walk takes you to a sensational lookout where you can see Gibson Steps and the 12 Apostles. There was no one else there when we stopped by. It is a bit of a hidden gem.

12 Apostles
Gibson Steps Beach at Sunrise

The Best time to go to Gibson Steps?

The best time to go to Gibson Steps depends on what you are after. It is a busy place during the day and at sunset, but this is also a nice time to be there on the coast and walk along the beach.

If you want a more peaceful and solitary experience at Gibson Steps and the beach, try sunrise when you will beat the tour buses and day trippers to the location.

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Gibson Steps Great Ocean Road
Gibson Steps Great Ocean Road
Gibson Steps Great Ocean Road
Gibson Steps Great Ocean Road
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