Work Exercise, you can’t beat building The Great Ocean Road by hand.
While many of us have enjoyed driving the world-renowned great Ocean Road in Victoria’s southwest, many people would be unfamiliar with the back breaking work of the returned soldiers and local community who helped forge this magnificent road.
And it would never have come to fruition if it weren’t for the dedication and financial generosity of the Geelong mayor, Alderman Howard Hitchcock, a wealthy businessman from the district.
While there had been earlier attempts at joining the coastal towns from Lorne to Geelong, it wasn’t until The Country Roads Board envisaged that “this impassable coastline could be breached” using the services of repatriated soldiers from World War I.
The Great Ocean Road Trust was founded in 1917 with the road serving as a war memorial to commemorate the services of those soldiers who served in the World War I from 1914 to 1918 while providing employment as well.
Work officially began in 1918 and involved thousands of ex-servicemen. While modern road construction and excavation involves using hydraulic rock crushing machinery and bulldozers, such luxuries were not afforded to the workers. The use of dynamite was not allowed and most of the work was carried out using picks and shovels and occasionally some machinery.
This high level of physically exertion on a daily basis would have burn’t a lot of calories.
However, anecdotally there was some respite from the arduous work when a tall ship laden with passengers and cargo ran aground. While there were no injuries, there was a need to jettison cargo so that the ship’s weight would be reduced significantly enough to ensure that on high tide the ship could return to deeper water.
Given the wealthy passengers on board there was a prize booty of cargo including much alcohol and exotic food. In recognition of the hard work undertaken by the servicemen on the project, the construction company gave them three weeks off to enjoy this bounty