Saturday November 3, 2007 (Day 18)
Great Ocean Road
It needed the fighting Anzac spirit to blast out the Great Ocean Road route, ending decades
of isolation for Lorne and other coastal communities. Work began in 1918 and was finally
completed in 1932.
Before the road, travel was far from pleasant. In the 1870s, a trip from Lorne to Geelong was
long and arduous via a rough coach track through dense bush to the railway at Winchelsea.
Previously, the ocean supplied the link to the outside world.
It's not surprising plans for an ocean road were widely acclaimed. But it took a world war to
bring them to fruition. Key mover for a coastal link between Barwon Heads and Warrnambool was
Geelong businessman and mayor, Alderman Howard Hitchcock. He saw it as a way of employing
returned soldiers, creating a lasting monument to those who died in the war and providing
a tourist route. He moved to form the Great Ocean Road Trust and set about raising the
money needed to finance the gigantic project.
Survey work began in August, 1918, and thousands of returned soldiers descended on the area
to start work. It was back-breaking toil using picks and shovels - helped along with the odd
stick of explosive - and horses and drays.
Stage 1 - Lorne to Eastern View - was completed in 1922, but it was another 10 years before
Lorne was linked to Anglesea and Cape Patton. The Country Roads Board built the section from
Cape Patton to Apollo Bay.
The full route was officially opened on November 26, 1932, as a
tollway. Drivers paid two shillings and sixpence (25 cents) and passengers one shilling
and sixpence (15 cents).