Australia has banned foreign travel, Australians cannot fly to Greece, but at least they can enjoy diving into turquoise waters off a hidden cliff that resembles an Aegean or Ionian island.
They have been flocking to the scenic landscape, south of Melbourne that looks just like a spot along the Greek coast.
The place they are referring to – The Pillars – is a set of sandstone cliffs popular with sightseers, fishing enthusiasts, cliff divers and Instagram photographers. The place is 83 kilometres south of Melbourne.
A video uploaded to TikTok by travel blogger The Wanderlust Times shows visitors plunging into the turquoise water as the sun beams down on the golden cliff face.
However local viewers were less impressed, with some slamming the videographer for encouraging tourists to ‘invade’ the area.
Popular among swimmers, cliff jumpers and photographers in search of shots, the ‘Instagrammable’ destination has been thronged with millennials since the start of summer.
Social media is littered with rave reviews from visitors, with many branding it one of Victoria’s “must see” attractions.
“Proof we don’t need to travel very far for a taste of Europe,” one woman wrote under an Instagram photo of the crystal clear water.
“Glorious spot,” said a second, while a third added: “Major Mediterranean vibes.”
Updated signage and the placement of a temporary fence are among measures taken by the Shire in recent years to warn visitors of cliff instability and erosion.
Australia’s ban on foreign travel challenged
Currently, a person can only fly out of Australia if they’ve successfully applied for an exemption from the federal government on compassionate grounds or other compelling need to travel and return.
However, this process has been frustrating for many with online support groups being littered with complaints from people who say they’ve been denied several times.
A libertarian group LibertyWorks took its case to the full bench of the Federal Court on Thursday against the order under the Biosecurity Act that has prevented most Australians from leaving the country without compelling reasons since March last year.
The government hopes to maintain Australia’s relatively low levels of community transmission of the virus by preventing its citizens from becoming infected overseas and bringing variants home. Travel to and from New Zealand has recently been exempted.
With almost one third of Australians born overseas and most barred from leaving the country for more than a year, a win by LibertyWorks is likely to lead to a surge in citizens wishing to travel internationally.
The three judges said at the end of Thursday’s hearing that they will announce their verdicts at a later date.
LibertyWorks President Andrew Cooper said after the hearing that he expected Australians could be free to fly again by the end of May.
“By the government’s own records, they’ve rejected 74,000 applications to travel,” Cooper said. “So we would anticipate there’d be hundreds of thousands of Australians that do want to travel.”