History Of The Great Ocean Road

Starting in Torquay, Victoria and stretching 243km towards the South Australian border, the Great Ocean Road was built by soldiers who returned from World War 1 in memory of those soldiers who served and lost their lives. 

The road was originally titled "South Coast Road" and designed to start in Barwon Heads, follow the coast along Cape Otway and end near Warrnambool. 

Geelong Mayor Alderman Howard Hitchcock formed the "Great Ocean Road Trust" and set out to raise the money to finance the project.  He saw the road as a long lasting monument to those that died in World War 1 but also as the famous tourist attraction we know it as today.

Survey work began in August 1918 and construction of the road began in September 1919.  Carving the route along the rocky cliff faces, dense wilderness and steep coastal mountains was all done by hand using explosives, picks, shovels, wheel barrows and some small machinery.  

The first stage of the road was opened in early 1922 that linked Lorne to Eastern view, then closed again in May that same year for further work.  Opening again in December 1922.  It took another decade but finally the road was finished and officially opened by Lieutenant Governor, Sir William Irvine on 26 November 1932. 

A toll was originally established at Eastern View where the memorial Arch was erected to recoup the costs of the construction but was later abolished when the road was handed over as a gift to the state government in October 1936.

Mayor Alderman Howard Hitchcock died in August 1932 before the road was completed.  You will see a memorial at Mt Defiance in honour of the "Father of the Road"