We’ve had my sister, her husband and their son staying with us for the last few days. It occurred to us yesterday that we only live an hour or so away from the Twelve Apostles, so we thought we might take a trip along the Great Ocean Road and have a look.
(Before I continue, I want to leave a couple of notes for anyone who might come to this post looking for information about the Great Ocean Road. First, good choice. It is spectacularly beautiful and you will not be disappointed. Second, a tip: If you are driving along the road at forty km/h below the speed limit and you notice there are a dozen cars following you closely, you may be Travelling Slowly. There are many ‘Slow Vehicle Turnouts’ along the way, in which Slow Vehicles can pull over to let other traffic past. Please, if you are in a Slow Vehicle, consider using the turnouts! Don’t get me wrong—it’s worth taking your time. But remember, many of the people behind you have probably travelled along there before and aren’t so interested in looking at the scenery. And besides, they’re probably busy watching the road in front of them, and trying not to get too close to your Slow Vehicle. Don’t rush. Don’t speed. Just be aware of the legitimate needs of other road users.)
Sorry. I had to get that off my chest! Anyway, back to the trip.
The Great Ocean Road is one of Victoria’s premiere tourist attractions, and this was always going to be one of the biggest tourist weekends of the year, so we expected a few people. We stopped for lunch in Apollo Bay. I’m not the sort of guy who sees divine providence in every small thing, but we found car parking with no appreciable difficulty. We’ve had trouble in non-holiday times, so getting a park on the busiest day of the year was a real bonus. The local merchants knew it was a holiday too—fish and chips for four and two 1.25 litre soft drinks cost $48. Next time we pack sandwiches.
We got a real shock when we finally arrived at the Twelve Apostles. The place was absolutely humming with people. We very nearly missed out on parking. I knew it was a popular attraction, but I seriously haven’t been in a crowd of people like that since moving to the country. There were people everywhere, most with cameras in hand, all trying to get a good view of the Apostles. You could be forgiven for thinking there were rock stars about to perform. But all it was was a few rocks sticking out of the water.
Now this is a nice piece of scenery. But I simply couldn’t understand why there were so many hundreds (if not thousands) of people jockeying for the best position to see it.
Clever marketing? Canny tour operators? Herd instinct? A simple desire to see what all the fuss is about?