INFRASTRUCTURE at the Twelve Apostles has been labelled shameful with community leaders saying the tourism drawcard is at risk of becoming an international joke.
Polwarth MP Richard Riordan has called for the establishment of a Great Ocean Road Management Authority to ensure there is a major investment in infrastructure. He also wants to see a rethink in the way the high volumes of tourists are managed at the site.
Mr Riordan said an approach similar to how people pay to see the penguins at Phillip Island would be appropriate.
“It is simply not possible to manage the high volumes as they are,” he said. “They arrive like Farmer Brown’s cows. When you go to see the penguins you buy a ticket and are allocated a time.
“The advantages are so great. It provides an income stream, there is a spread of tourists throughout the day and visitors are forced to spend more time in the region. At the end of the day what we’re seeing now is chaos.
“It’s a no brainer. There is a better way. Right now it’s shameful, it’s chaotic and it’s dangerous. It needs to be managed like any other natural asset.”
The push comes after a dash camera video showed a large number of pedestrians within touching distance of vehicles travelling along the Great Ocean Road between Gibson Steps and the Twelve Apostles during the Easter long weekend.
Parks Victoria is expecting a huge number of visitors over the weekend with people making the most of the Anzac Day public holiday.
Corangamite Shire councillor Simon Illingworth said the 12 Apostles had suffered decades of neglect by successive state governments.
“What we’ve got now is an absolute disgrace,” he said.
“We have people walking on the road with children. There’s going to be a fatality or head on collision. It’s an ongoing fear for residents. People travel 6000kms and then they can’t get a park when they get here. It’s time for the state and federal governments to get their heads together and actually fix this.”
Minister for Tourism and Major Events John Eren said the Great Ocean Road was Victoria’s top tourism draw card and the government was doing everything to support local communities and attract visitors from all over the world. He did not comment on whether there would be money allocated in the state budget to improve infrastructure.
The state government has installed more than 100 Drive on Left signs and 150 line-marked directional arrows. The region attracts 2.6 million visitors a year but the average visitor stays less than 40 minutes and spends only 18 cents.