My Trip Along The Great Ocean Road
I went for a drive along the Great Ocean Road, with Marlene and Ellen. It is one of the great drives of the world, hugging the coastline with spectacular scenery and also going through rainforest and farmland.
We had a look at Bells Beach, famous for surfing. There were only a few surfers there but we did see an Echidna! I must say, the toilet block at Bells Beach is one of the nicest I have seen. It has beautiful murals over it.
We saw the Memorial Arch and stopped at some lookouts. It was time for a rest when we got to Lorne. Then we moved on and got to the Twelve Apostles. There are only 9 now but they still look great. Then it was off to Loch Ard Gorge. Lots of steps going down to the beach but worth it if you can make it back up.
We had lunch in Port Campbell. Then we went to The Arch and also London Bridge, which fell down in 1990, so it isn't really a bridge anymore. We finished our trip at Peterborough.
I will tell you a bit of history of the road. The road was built by returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932, and is the world's largest war memorial; dedicated to casualties of World War I.
The Great Ocean Road was first planned towards the end of the first world war.
Surveying for the road started in 1918 - with the road suggested to travel from Barwon Heads, follow the coast west around Cape Otway, and end near Warrnambool. In 1918, the Great Ocean Road Trust was formed as a private company, under the helm of president Howard Hitchcock. The company managed to secure £81,000 in capital from private subscription and borrowing, with Hitchcock himself contributing £3000.
Construction on the road began on 19 September 1919, built by approximately 3,000 returned servicemen as a war memorial for fellow servicemen who had been killed in World War I. An advance survey team progressed through dense wilderness at approximately 3 kilometres a month. Construction was done by hand; using explosives, pick and shovel, wheel barrows, and some small machinery. Several workers were killed during construction.
The soldiers were paid 10 shillings and sixpence for eight hours per day, also working a half-day on Saturdays. They used tents for accommodation and made use of a communal dining marquee and kitchen; food costing up to 10 shillings a week. Despite the difficulty involved in constructing the road, the workers had access to a piano, gramophone, games, newspapers and magazines at the camps.
The road was closed at Eastern View from 10 May 1922 for further work; opening again on 21 December along with tolls to recoup construction costs. The charge, payable at Eastern View, was two shillings for motor cars and 10 shillings for wagons with more than two horses.
In November 1932, the section from Lorne to Apollo Bay was finished, bringing the road to completion. The road was officially opened with Victoria's Lieutenant-Governor Sir William Irvine holding a ceremony near Lorne's Grand Pacific Hotel and the road subsequently being acknowledged as the world's largest war memorial.
In its original state, the road was considered a formidable drive; fitting only a single vehicle comfortably at a time. Areas with sheer cliffs would be most hazardous, with only few places for drivers to pull over to allow others to proceed in the opposite direction. On 2 October 1936, the road was handed to the State Government, with the deed for the road presented to the Victorian Premier at a ceremony at the Cathedral Rock toll gate. It was at this time that the tolls were also removed.
In 1962, the road was deemed by the Tourist Development Authority to be one of the world's great scenic roads. It also had sections widened between the Lorne Hotel and the Pacific Hotel to improve traffic, while aiming to preserve it's character. Despite improvements, the road was still considered a challenging drive; the Victorian Police motor school even using it for training around 1966.
Over its life, the Great Ocean Road has been susceptible to natural elements. In 1960 the section at Princetown was partially washed away by water during storms. It experienced landslides on 11 August 1964 and in 1971. Both closing sections of the road near Lorne. Because of the terrain surrounding the road, it was also closed due to bush-fires in 1962 and 1964, particularly in areas with nearby camp-sites. In January, 2011 a section of the overhanging cliffs collapsed due to heavy rain.
The Great Ocean Road is now home to The Great Ocean Road Marathon. I had a wonderful time and if you have the opportunity to go along the road, I would highly recommend it.