This week’s Wanderlust Wednesday excursion: A visit to London Bridge and The Arch, Australia’s most famous natural rock arches along the Great Ocean Road
2020 has been one of those years where time has seemingly stood still while passing by in a blink all at the same time. So much has happened in the world around us that it feels like we’ve been living through these uncertain times for a lifetime. But, we haven’t. It’s only been a few short months since our world turned upside down the first time, and that tidal wave of unknown tumult shows no sign of slowing any time soon.
This reality has had me thinking a lot about time and how it’s one of life’s greatest teachers. How it works in mysterious ways to reveal truths and impart wisdom. How it really does heal all wounds and teaches us what truly matters.
But time is also complicated in that we don’t always know what it’s doing as it’s doing it. Yet when it decides to make its strategy known, it can blind us with its truth.
I was overwhelmed by this fact over and over again last year during my journey along the Great Ocean Road as I was smacked in the face at every turn with powerful beauty that wouldn’t exist without the magic of time. The dramatic rock formations that define this stretch of road are one of time’s great reveals for it took millions of years for the wind and sea to carve and polish and decorate and define these magnificent shapes. Yet they are always changing. In every second of every day their strength is challenged, their weakness more exposed, their future subtly but definitively determined. Some will stand the test of time, some won’t. Yet with each one that gives up the fight, newness is revealed.
Such change doesn’t always look beautiful at first, yet over time the difference between then and now doesn’t look or feel so dramatic. It just is. That new landscape eventually becomes old as time continues its march, plotting and planning as it goes.
Apply this to our collective now, and I think time is in the midst of more great reveals. How we learn from them is up to each of us as individuals, and as I grapple with this on a personal level, I can’t help but to reflect on all the ways in which I’ve witnessed and grown from such reveals myself. For me, nature is often time’s voice that speaks to me on an intimate level, and it gave me many a talking to throughout my solo journey Down Under. Those lessons are more applicable to life now than ever before, so I thought it was a fitting time to visit a few of the places that impacted and educated me in this arena the most.
So today we’re heading back to Australia’s Great Ocean Road for stops at its two most famous natural rock arches: London Bridge and The Arch. Both beautiful and commanding, yet equally susceptible to the wonder of time.
Located in Port Campbell National Park, London Bridge is a natural rock arch comprised of limestone and sandstone stacks, which formed over thousands of years thanks to the gradual erosion of the stone caused by the wind and sea. Up until 30 years ago, London Bridge was once just that – a double-spanning bridge connected to the mainland, which visitors could walk out across for a magnificent view of the Southern Ocean. It was named London Bridge after the London Bridge in England due to the physical similarities between the two, but in January of 1990, Australia's London Bridge unexpectedly collapsed, leaving it a bridge without a middle and trapping two tourists uninjured on its outer span. It’s since been renamed the London Arch given its change in structure, which in turn forever changed the landscape of this dramatic stretch of coastline.
From here, travel two minutes down the Great Ocean Road to The Arch, another natural rock arch which like the London Arch, was formed primarily due to time’s passing and erosion from the wind and water of the great Southern Ocean. In 2015, a large chunk of rock fell away from its cliff-face, leaving geologists to predict that The Arch is the next natural formation along Australia’s most famous coastline at risk of caving in.
While sunrise and sunset are both popular times to view both of these impressive limestone formations, the light in late afternoon casts a golden glow, which makes for a pretty spectacular time to visit as well. Just layer up if you’re visiting during winter as the weather tends to change quickly (as evidenced by my photos) and the wind is dramatically stronger on the viewing platforms than it is on the surrounding paths.
Film fails to capture the power of the Southern Ocean and the way it dominates these structures and plays a hand in determining their fate. Yet time is the ultimate decider, which is a poignant reminder as we continue to navigate through the tumultuous waters of now.