Monday, February 18, 2008

The Reason of The Great Ocean Road

Most tourists and, of course, many Aussies themselves, have driven along that breath-taking panoramic stretch known as The Great Ocean Road.
But how many realise they are actually embarking along one of the world's longest war memorials?

Before WW1 most of the towns and villages all around that area were isolated due to the inhospitable terrain.Long and windy tracks had sprung up here, there and everywhere, with some train and coach services struggling to reach some areas.

But then a clever little dicky-bird by the name of William Calder had a light bulb spring to life above his noggin.
Calder was the chairman of the Country Roads Board and he'd been told by the State War Council to employ returned soldiers in 1917. He came back with the idea of the War Council giving some dosh to employ these returned boys in building roads in these isolated areas, then he submitted his plan for (as it was then titled) The South Coast Road to be built by returned soldiers as a memorial to those who hadn't made it home from the war.

Over 3,000 returned soldiers lived in tents during the 13 years it took to complete the road; they worked with pick axes and shovels, horse carts removed the rubble they sweated buckets to remove by hand. Blasting helped too, with many tonnes thrown into the ocean from explosives charges.
During the Great Depression this was often the only work available for returned soldiers and, as they had to work 8 hour days and a half day on Saturdays, it was many months (sometimes more than a year) before they were able to see their families.

More details and great photos available HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE


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