Inspire : Public Works July Aug 2014
46 Public Works Professional July-August 2014 The Great Ocean Road, stretching 243km through diverse landscape along Victoria's southwest coastline, is more than just an impressive scenic drive -- it is the world's longest war memorial; a grand gesture to the men who ser ved and died in World War One. The now-iconic scenic road was built by more than 3000 returned soldiers as a memorial to their fallen comrades, with construction commencing August 1918. As well as creating jobs, the road was built with the aim of providing access to coastal scenery regarded as a potential tourist attraction, and to facilitate the transport of goods to isolated settlements, beneﬁtting local industries. Towards the end of the war, chairman of the Country Roads Board, NZ-born civil engineer William Calder, requested funding from the State War Council to pay returned soldiers to work on roads in Victoria's remote south-west. The idea was initially met with some scepticism. Detractors argued it was unfair and akin to punishment to put ex-soldiers to work on such an arduous project, while proponents, on the other hand, hoped the project would provide the soldiers with holiday-like seaside conditions, including opportunities to swim, ﬁsh and shoot while they were rehabilitating from the war. One particularly enthusiastic supporter of Calder's idea was City of Geelong Mayor Howard Hitchcock. In 1918, the Great Ocean Road Trust was formed as a private company with Hitchcock as president. The tr ust raised £81,000 in capital from both private donations (including £3000 from Hitchcock himself) and loans. Any debts would be repaid by charging drivers a toll until it was cleared, after which the road would be gifted to the state (this happened in October 1936). Sur veying of the road started in 1918, progressing through the dense bushland at a rate of approximately three kilometres per month. The returned soldiers built the road by hand in rugged conditions using explosives, pick and shovel, wheelbarrows and some small machinery. Another civil engineer William McCormack -- who studied road construction, town planning, sewerage and water supply in the UK after the war, before returning to Australia in 1919 -- led the construction effort, taking over as chairman of the Country Roads Board following Calder's death in 1928. The road was ofﬁcially opened on 26 November 1932 -- just months after Hitchcock, often affectionately referred to as the 'father' of the Great Ocean Road, died from heart disease. In commemoration, his car was driven along the road behind the governor's during the ceremony. As with many such projects of the era, the work was undoubtedly hard going. Over the 14 years it took to build the road, the workforce turned over 20 times -- with several workers killed during construction. The Great Ocean Road was added to the Australian National Heritage List in 2011. ••• WHAT The Great Ocean Road WHERE Torquay to Allansford, Victoria WHEN CONSTRUCTED 1918--1932 RETROSPECT DOITONOUR ONLINE FORUMS: Visit goo.gl/ebR5Jz to discuss this article. MORE TO ADD? Photo courtesy Iain Grant, Portland Family History Group Inc.
Public Works Sept Oct 2014
Public Works May Jun 2014