The Great Ocean Road
The following is an extract from "The Pleasure Grounds of the Barwon Coast: A History" by Dr david Rowe And available from the Barwon Coast Committee of Management Inc c/- post office Barwon Heads vic. Australia 3227 www.barwoncoast.com.au
"Howard Hitchcock's valuable assistance in lobbying for the construction of the Barwon Heads Bridge appears not only to have been for the benefit of Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove residents and visitors. He was a leading proponent of the development of the Great Ocean Road between 1915 and 1917. This 'modern coastal highway' was proposed to link Barwon Heads to Warrnambool.274 Hitchcock was elected the first Chairman of the Great Ocean Road Trust when it was formed in 1918.275 Other members of the Road Trust included E.E. Hendy, T.K. Maltby M.L.A., A. Mair, M.L.A., H.H. Smith, M.L.A., and T.J. Buchan (who coincidentally, became a member of the Barwon Heads Park Trust in 1923)
The Great Ocean Road Trust was proudly photographed on the steps of the Geelong Town Hall in 1918, holding a sign asking for donations for the construction of a road
...commencing at and including a reinforced concrete bridge over the Barwon River at Barwon Heads; thence proceeding westerly via Torquay, Anglesea, Airey's Inlet, Lorne, Apollo Bay, Cape Otway, Glen Aire, Princetown, Lochard Gorge, Port Campbell and Peterborough, and thence to Warrnambool.
A railway system between Barwon Heads and Geelong was also proposed, but it was never carried out.
While the first section of the Great Ocean Road was constructed between Lorne and Eastern View by 1922,278 the 'Proposed Ocean Road' was marked on the Barwon Heads Golf Club Subdivision plan in c.1922. Now known as the Torquay-Barwon Heads Road, a Country Roads Board Surveyor, under the direction of Major McCormack, laid out the thoroughfare in c.1920. This road was situated on the top of the cliff for half the distance between Barwon Heads and Black Rock, and then it diverged inland to miss sensitive dunes (Fig. 2.28).
By 1936, the Black Rock end of the old Ocean Road constructed in 1921 had been overwhelmed by the migration of the coastal dunes. A new road was cut along the line of an old track on the crest of the dunes parallel with the shore, meeting the Bluestone School Road at Black Rock. The Country Roads Board was also responsible for the construction of this road that was made from local limestone. It was built in the Depression years of the 1930s. It appears that the Regional Employment Development Scheme (R.E.D.S.) was utilized for the project. The road was a much-needed source of employment for the local men (including men from the Cameron, Cooper and Jennings families) who were struggling financially because of the economic hardships and lack of employment opportunities at the time. One local who worked on the road was Jim Jennings. He commenced as a temporary labourer on this stretch of road, and at the conclusion of the work, was permanently employed by the Country Roads Board. Jennings worked his way up the employment scale with the Board, and became the Works for the Tullamarine Freeway prior to his retirement.
The Barwon Heads Trustees and Committee of Management continued to actively support the inclusion of Barwon Heads as part of the Great Ocean Road. In 1962, the Chairman of the Committee visited Lorne and 'agreed to send representatives to next meeting of Promotion League with agreement to join in promotion scheme., In 1978, the Country Roads Board considered the construction of a link road from Thirteenth Beach westwards to Torquay. Because of the fragile sand dunes at Breamlea, the Soil Conservation Authority opposed the proposal. In that same year, there were safety concerns along the road at Thirteenth Beach due to the lack of parking. However, 'the Council was told that any proposals for car parks in the Thirteenth Beach area would involve discussions with the Country Roads Board, as Beach Road was officially the start of the Great Ocean Road.
Further attempts to promote the Ocean Road at Thirteenth Beach were made by the Committee of Management in 1982. In gaining support from the community, they received a letter from the Barwon Heads Progress Association 'supporting enthusiastically the proposal by this Committee to develop the Coastal Road as a landmark and offering to assist with representation by one of its members. Coincidentally, it was in this same year when two car parks and three pedestrian tracks and fencing were granted approval for development at Thirteenth Beach.
Geelong advertiser November 27 1932
"A meeting was held in Colac in March, 1918, and the Mayor of Geelong, Alderman Howard Hitchcock, who had been pushing for the road, moved that a Great Ocean Road Trust be formed. Ald Hitchcock's motion called for a road from Barwon Heads to Warrnambool "and other places as the trust may decide from time to time". The meeting felt that the work should be offered to returned soldiers because "men who were labourers before the war will surely not object to make roads after the war, especially under such congenial surroundings as this scheme will provide". In spite of these glowing words, the men worked under difficult conditions, and many believed the road was a pipedream."