You can’t speak of Melbourne and sightseeing without a Great Ocean Road tour. Renowned far and wide as world’s most scenic drives, it is the most iconic destinations that lay on this coastal driveway that add more to its value. Travelling to South West Victoria and looking forward to a drive along this spectacular roadway?
Go on a joyride through its history before you go on a tour:
It’s not common knowledge that a Great Ocean Road trip is not only about the famed landmarks en route this route or the scenic landscapes that you come across. The importance of this scenic drive is more significant than it first appears. Standing tall as a permanent memorial to the soldiers who died during the World War I, it was constructed by the war-returned soldiers from 1919 to 1932.
What began as a project that was intended for the re-employment of the war-returned soldiers in areas with sparse population, later transformed in to a memorial in the leadership of the-then Geelong mayor, Alderman Howard Hitchcock. Not only did the mayor participate in the formation of the Great Ocean Road Trust with the cause of raising the necessary amount of money for financing the project, he also made sure that the coastal driveway passes through all popular tourist destinations in the region, so that it gradually takes shape into a tourist attraction in its own right.
Another propelling feature that triggered the plans of construction of a road was the unavoidable need for a systematic transportation network in the diverse South-West coast of Victoria. Until then, it was accessible only through sea or rough bushtracks. It was envisioned that the route would not only join isolated settlements while becoming a tourist hotspot but also pave way for a well-systemised transport link for the upcoming timber industry in the region.
Though surveys for the development of a road, initially titled as South Coast Road, began as early as 1918, the plan only achieved fruition by September 1919. Constructed by over 3,000 returned servicemen, a majority of the work was implemented without the aid of heavy machinery, putting only explosives, wheelbarrows, picks, shovels and horse-drawn carts to use, making the task both back-breaking and strenuous. Also, when explosives were used, the hard terrains made the work dangerous with many soldiers losing their lives during their employment period.
The first stage of this tour kicked off with joining Lorne and Eastern View and it was achieved upon by early 1922. The process further continued for the course of a decade and connected Lorne with Cape Patton and Anglesea. In addition to it, Country Roads Board also worked on Cape Patton to Apollo Bay link at the same time.
In succession to many hardships and lives lost for the cause, the route was officially available for public on 26 November 1932. This was done by the-then Lieutenant Governor, Sir William Irvine. There was a memorial arch that stood proud and tall for all to see and there was a nominal toll collected by all travellers during a period of over four years, for the cause of reimbursing debts that incurred during the building phase. Later, the road was passed on as a gift to the State Government by 2 October 1936 and the toll was discontinued.
In spite of numerous hardships that followed in the years to come, Great Ocean Road surpassed it all to transform in to a popular tourist attraction and has topped the list of Australia’s scenic drives many times. It also was a part of the Australian National Heritage List in 2011. With such happening history, go on a ride through this coastal path during a full-day Great Ocean Road and 12 Apostles tour. Visit, discover and experience great times en route Great Ocean Road!