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The Twelve Apostles on Australia's South Coast

A narrow golden sand beach, washed by the Southern Ocean, forms the strand between sea and cliff at Twelve Apostles Marine National Park on the southern coast of Victoria in Australia. In this photograph taken in January 1980, I eyed Laurie and Nancy, carrying 9-month-old Ian, from a shoreline cave as they walked along the beach near the Twelve Apostles.

The famed Twelve Apostles, an Australianlandmark, now number eight sea stacks up to 150 feet high. These fragile erosional remnants are composed of the extremely soft Port Campbell Limestone, a 15-million-year-old formation. Towering waves, pushed north from Antarctica, batter the pinnacles and erode them about an inch a year. In 2005 a 160-foot stack toppled and is now a pile of disappearing rubble on the beach. Geologists estimate that it takes 600 years for a sea stack to evolve from cliffed headland to an arch to a freestanding pinnacle to its collapse. Arches form in the headland from caves, like the one in this image. As far as I can ascertain, both then and now, none of the stacks have been climbed...

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