Completed in 1932, the Great Ocean Road is a 243-kilometer road stretching along the south eastern coast of Australia. The road is a remarkably scenic route that connects much of southeast Australia to various heritage sites and tourist spots such as The Grampians National Park. The history and the scenery of the road are such that the road itself is considered a tourist attraction. In fact, taking the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne to Adelaide is very popular for tourists.
Also, many driving enthusiasts consider the road to be a wonderful experience for a driver.
Towards the end of World War I, Australian politicians began to consider what to do with all of the returning soldiers. These soldiers would need jobs. Many settlements in southeast Australia were very isolated from the rest of the country. So, politicians envisaged a road that would connect those disparate settlements and also give the returning soldiers productive work to do.
Surveying for the road began in 1918 when it was still being called the South Coast Road. On 19 September 1919, construction began. Approximately three hundred returned soldiers built the road as a memorial for soldiers who had died during World War I. The soldiers completed the work by hand, using explosives, axes, picks, and shovels. The work was oftentimes very treacherous, resulting in the deaths of several workers.
At one point in 1924, the steamboat Casino was forced to jettison five hundred barrels of beer and one hundred twenty cases of liquor. The soldiers found the jettisoned cargo, resulting in a two-week long work stoppage for drinking.
The road was completed in November 1932. Upon completion, the road was considered a treacherous drive. Originally, it could only accommodate one car at a time, and some of the narrow cliffs offered very few spots for a car to pull over and let another pass. When the national government took over the road in the 1960s, it was expanded but it’s still considered a challenging drive.
The Great Ocean Road Marathon was created in 2005. The race takes place on a forty-five kilometre section of the road between Apollo Bay and Lorne.
The Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race is a cycling race set to take place along the road sometime in 2015.
Great Ocean Walk
Similar to the road, the Great Ocean Walk hugs the south eastern coast of Australia. The series of interconnected trails runs one hundred and four kilometres from Victoria. In fact, in many places, the trails hug the coast even tighter than the Great Ocean Road so walkers are given views of the coast that drivers might not see.
Development of the trails began in 2001 and was completed in 2006. Much of the work was done to connect already existing trails. The trails pass through national landmarks such as rock formations and even fossilized dinosaurs. Many sections of the coast are littered with shipwrecks and the lighthouses that were constructed to combat the amount of ships wrecking.