Victorian taxpayers built Apollo Bay’s first harbour back in the 1950s for our shark and cray fishing industry. Although these twenty or so fishing families have shrunk to about six the harbour has been rebuilt with enormous floating concrete jetties. Most of these are locked to the public but you can walk the main arms and watch proceedings or throw in a line.
Colac Otway Shire manages the harbour now. A quasi outdoor restaurant popped up at the fisherman’s co-op. There’s a boat ramp and a sporting sail club active near the golf club. Everybody wants a yacht these days and cars park everywhere. They say the slip is inadequate.
The council plans to redevelop the harbour. The Otway Forum, a small group meeting monthly in Apollo Bay threw together a questionnaire to test whether we want small, medium or maximum development. Half said medium; 25% minimal and 25% maximum. This is pretty ad hoc as consultation.
You can’t help but notice how pleas for adequate footpaths and other infrastructure in the real town don’t get much action, but the council didn’t hesitate to revamp the kiddie playground on the foreshore along with swathes of more parking.
Apollo Bay’s appeal lies with its naturalness but now the foreshore carries heaps of town infrastructure. The main game is tourism and for the council: real estate development –that’s more bush subdivisions, more 4WDs and more rates. Our pleas for normal footpaths, lights and drains in the town proper fall on deaf ears.
Town planning is not an easy profession but that’s what we pay rates for. I shudder to think what hoopla the council has in mind for the harbour.