The hills behind the Great Ocean Road, lounging towards Colac, are The Otways.
I can say that I live on the Great Ocean Road or I can say that I live in the Otways. Both are true but each elicits a different response.
On the days that I describe my home as The Great Ocean Road I get an opening of eyes from my listener, a ‘gosh’ or an ‘ooooh’. Then I can almost see waves crashing before their eyes and images of me, rather plump in a wetsuit, trying to ride them!
‘You live there?’ they ask. ‘You’re lucky.’
I try not to get into a debate about whether deciding to live here is deemed ‘luck’. I just didn’t want to visit my asthma specialist anymore and Apollo Bay seemed like the perfect spot to get my lungs clean. Then, once the asthma had gone I realised there were other benefits to living on the Great Ocean Road. It’s hard not to be happy when everyone around you is smiling. Why wouldn’t they? They live on the Great Ocean Road for goodness sake! The scenery never goes away and yet it changes every day, the days are long and stress free, (stress tends to get left at the memorial to the Anzacs at Fairhaven, there should be a sign and a big bin-‘Leave your stress here’). And the seafood, believe me, it’s world class, it comes straight out of the ocean, the one next to the road!
And anyway, how many other places in the world are there where you can safely say that 5 out of 10 adverts for cars take place on your street.
But, hang on a minute, I am also from The Otways. So I sometimes say to my listener ‘I live in the Otways’. And then, behind their eyes, I see the drooping branches of a lemon tree, a vision of me turning over compost, bringing in wood and popping a home raised chicken in a pot, chopping herbs as I listen to a flute concerto. In their mind’s eye I am watching whales through a pair of binoculars and sipping Lilac wine with my neighbour.
I do not destroy their preconceptions by revealing that I also have to visit supermarkets, have my cars serviced, scratch a living, tell my children to get off the iPad.
I let them imagine me in my wetsuit plucking lemons from the tree.
Annabel Tunley, Local Author