The Great Ocean Road is a 243 km (151 mi) stretch of road along the south-eastern coast of Australia between Torquay and Warrnambool. The road was built by around 3,000 returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932, and is the world’s largest war memorial; dedicated to casualties of World War 1. It is an important tourist attraction, winding through varying terrain alongside the coast, and provides access to several prominent landmarks, including the nationally significant Twelve Apostles, 12km east of Port Campbell, in the Port Campbell National Park.
GENERAL: The Great Ocean Road (GOR), officially designated as the B100, begins at Torquay and travels 243 km westward to finish 56 km west of Port Campbell at Allansford, close to Warrnambool, the largest regional city in the southwest of Victoria.
The GOR is a significant tourist attraction, with much of the road hugging coastline affectionately known as the Shipwreck Coast and providing great visibility of Bass Strait and the Southern Ocean. It traverses rainforests, as well as beaches and soaring cliffs.
The GOR travels west via Anglesea, Lorne, Apollo Bay and Port Campbell, within the Port Campbell National Park – famous for its natural limestone and sandstone rock formations including the Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge and The Twelve Apostles.
HISTORY: The GOR was first planned towards the end of the WW1 when, at that time, the rugged south-west coast of Victoria was accessible only by sea or rough bush track. Besides being dedicated as a memorial, it was also envisioned that the GOR would connect isolated settlements along the coast, and become a vital transport link for the timber industry and tourism.
CONSTRUCTION: Surveying for the GOR started in 1918, construction in September 1919, and was complete in late 1932. Construction was conducted by hand – using explosives, pick and shovel, wheel barrows, and some small machinery, and was at times perilous, with several workers killed on the job.