Our Backyard – Aireys Inlet

It will soon be 100 years since construction commenced on the Great Ocean Road, what is arguably our most internationally famous drive. Today the 240km long road tracing Victorias wild south coast is one of Victorias most popular tourist routes, attracting 5.4 million visitors from all over the world in 2018 alone.

Below is a timeline of some significant events in 100 years of the Great Ocean Road.


The Great Ocean Road Trust is established when, towards the end of World War I, William Calder, chairman of the Country Roads Board, asks the State War Council for funding to cover a scheme whereby returned soldiers would work on roads in sparsely populated areas in the Western District.


On September 19, Harry Lawson, the Premier of Victoria, detonates an explosive near Lorne to mark the beginning of construction.


The work of nearly 3000 returned soldiers is finally finished in November. During a weekend of festivities, Victoria’s Lieutenant-Governor, Sir William Irvine, declares the road officially open.


The user toll, paid at Eastern View, is abolished when the trust hands the road over to the state government.


The Tourist Development Authority declares the route to be one of the world’s great scenic roads. Sections are widened.


The February Ash Wednesday bushfires rip through. Hundreds seek shelter on the beaches. Three people perish and nearly 800 buildings are destroyed in the Otway region. The peat in Coogoorah Reserve is alight and the Anglesea River is subsequently diverted to extinguish the fire.


A large section of the Island Archway, the Great Ocean Road’s iconic rock formation, collapses and crumbles into the sea. In July 2005, one of the large stacks that form the Twelve Apostles also collapsed.


The Great Ocean Road is added to the Australian National Heritage List.


The first Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race (named after the Australian Tour de France winner) for elite cyclists and the People’s Ride, for the general public, is held along the road. The Christmas Day bushfire between Kennett River and Wye River destroys more than 100 homes and 2300 hectares of land.


Heavy rainfall leads to more than 100 landslips along the road. There is significant damage to the surface leading to a full road closure for two weeks. A $53 million upgrade of the road is announced to reduce the risk of rockfalls and landslides.


There are calls for more stringent rules regarding overseas drivers taking to Australian roads after a couple on a motorbike are severely injured when hit by a mini-bus travelling on the wrong side of the road.


Construction begins on the Port Campbell Creek Pedestrian Bridge, as part of the Victorian state government’s Shipwreck Coast Master Plan. The bridge will provide a connection between the Port Campbell township and the Discovery Trail, Port Campbell National Park.


James Worssam


0418 585 815

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