Located to the west of Melbourne in the state of Victoria, Australia’s Great Ocean Road is well known for it’s stunning scenery and impressive natural attractions. Pleasing the tourist crowds wasn’t the original reason it was created. Although plans for the road began in earnest during World War 1, the origin of the road goes back to the 1800s. This magnificent road was constructed as a permanent reminder to those that had lost their lives, once the fighting ended.
Before the road
Before the Great Ocean Road was created, many of the coastal communities along its path were isolated, with the ocean being their main link to the outside world . Overland travel, when attempted, was long and tiresome. In the 1870s, a trip from Lorne to Geelong was via a rough coach track through dense bush to the railway at Winchelsea.
Ocean road plans
The first plans for an ocean road were developed in the 1880’s, but it during World War 1 that Mr W Calder, chairman of the Country Roads Board, proposed that funds were provided to allow soldiers returning from the war employment opportunities through the construction of a ‘South Coast Road’. The mayor of Geelong, Alderman Howard Hitchcock then took the plans forward. In order to raise money for the project, he formed a Great Ocean Road Trust. In his eyes, the road was a lasting monument to the soldiers who hadn’t returned, as well as an employment opportunity for returning soldiers. His view of the road’s worth as a tourist attraction was considered very forward-thinking.
Building the road
Thousands of soldiers were soon undertaking the back-breaking manual labour that was required to complete the road, with survey work officially starting in August 1918. He also had a a forward-thinking view of the road’s intentional worth as a tourist attraction. Over the next ten years the road was expanded, linking Lorne with Cape Patton and Anglesea and Cape Patton with Apollo Bay. Amid much celebration, the Lieutenant Governor, Sir William Irvine officially opened the Great Ocean Road Australia on 26th November 1932.