4 July 2005

Another one down

by Matt Rubinstein at 7:16 am

apostles3.jpgThe Herald reports that another of the Twelve Apostles off Victoria’s Great Ocean Road has collapsed, leaving only eight apostles standing. The formation is made of limestone and was called the Sow and Piglets until the rise of Christian fundamentalism and its attendant iconography. The stacks were eroded out of the coastline by the Point-Break–quality surf and the stiff breeze, first into bridges like the old London Bridge (the land-connected part of which fell down in 1990, leaving London Arch) and then, when their spans collapsed, into the pillars that remain (or don’t). They are thought to have been formed somewhere between 25 million and 10 million years ago (much less if you’re one of the abovementioned fundamentalists) and are up to 45 metres high. It’s not clear whether there were ever (I mean recently) precisely twelve of the stacks or when the other ones collapsed, but I suppose it’s not really important.

While I was at uni some friends and I rode our pushbikes along the Great Ocean Road from Adelaide to Melbourne, and we had plenty of time to corroborate the heartbreaking winds that lash the coast as well as the majesty of the rock formations. They are one of those things, like the Grand Canyon, that you think can never be as good as everyone makes out and turn out to be better, that you think must have been robbed of something by their overexposure but somehow haven’t. It’s kind of sad to lose one of them, but at the same time I think it’s kind of cool, a demonstration of the fragility of beautiful things—even bloody great rocks—and a good reminder of our infinitesimal horizons. In all likelihood there’ll be heaps more apostles as the coastline pushes north and the same old forces keep building these things and then knocking them down, but we probably won’t be around to see it. It’s just chance that we’re here now.

It’s also nice that this bit of environmental destruction doesn’t seem to have been our fault.

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