The Great Ocean Road is more than just a scenic route along Australia’s southern coastline.
Built following the First World War, the Great Ocean Road is a permanent memorial for those who died while fighting. The road was carved into the coastline in a miraculous feat of engineering and took more than a decade to become the beautiful drive it is today.
The Great Ocean Road has been welcoming visitors since 1932 when the route was officially opened by the Lieutenant Governor, Sir William Irvine. For the first few years of its opening, visitors paid a toll to travel down the road, however, in 1936 the toll was abolished and the road became free for all.
The road stretches for 243 kilometres between the two towns of Allansford and Torquay. The official start of the road however is the humble Memorial Arch. Though it may not look like much on first inspection, the archway welcomes visitors and signifies the beginning of this historic stretch of road.
Though the Great Ocean Road is a memorial to those who died fighting in World War I the archway itself is a tribute to the men who built the road. The road was commissioned, in part, as a way to provide returned servicemen with job opportunities. It provided them with work and a much-needed income as well as the comradery they had become accustomed to.
The current arch is the third to have been built. It consists of a large timber log arch, supported by cement and stone on either side. The first arch was replaced in 1973 as part of upgrade works however the replacement would only stand for ten years before it was destroyed in the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires.
There are several plaques on the righthand side of the archway. They commemorate each of the three archways as well as a 50th-anniversary plaque. There is also a large and ornate plaque to the left of the archway. It was unveiled as part of the roads 75th anniversary and tells the story of how the road was built. The plaque also features a map of the road, highlighting the beautiful towns along the coast that you will drive through on your journey.
If you want to stop and take some pictures of Memorial Arch there are a few things to be careful of. There isn’t a full car park at the archway so you will need to safely pull over in the small parking area. Always remember that the Great Ocean Road is a functioning and busy road. Though it might be tempting to get your picture under the archway, you should never stand in the middle of the road as you’ll put yourself and others safety at risk. Always remember, safety first!
You’ll know you’ve reached the Great Ocean Road once you see the memorial arch ahead of you. The Memorial Arch is the gateway to the Great Ocean Road and holds a lot of history about this area. A perfect way to start your trip down the road is to show your respect for the incredible men who made this incredible road.
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