Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch
Location: Great Ocean Road, Eastern View
The Great Ocean Road is a permanent memorial to those who died while fighting in World War I, carved in rock, it winds around the rugged southern coast. Built by returned servicemen it was a huge engineering feat ending decades of isolation for Lorne and other coastal communities.
Along the way is a memorial arch at Eastern View is constructed of timber logs with cement and stone priers. Often thought of as the start of the Great Ocean Road because of the arch. (The start being at Torquay.) This is the third arch of this design. The original was built in 1939. The five bronze plaques on the sea side pillar describe the story behind the arch.
- The first describes that the Great Ocean Road Trust build the road to commemorate the services of those who served in the Great War, 1914-1918.
- Next to it the plaque dedicates the arch itself to the memory of Major W.T.B. McCormack, Honorary Engineer to the Trust and Chairman of the Country Roads Board.
- A second arch replaced the first when the road was widened in 1973.
- The fourth plaque memorialises a ceremony in November 1982 to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Road. Just three months later this structure was destroyed by the Ash Wednesday fires of 16 February 1983 when the entire coast between Lorne and Anglesea was burnt black.
- A fifth plaque commemorating the third structure.
Still this was not the first of the arches. The original was a simple structure which stood at the first tollgate nearby. It carried the painted lettering, Returned Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Great Ocean Road.
The commemorative plaque is one of a series of 15 by sculptor Dr Ross Bastiaan along the Great Ocean Road beginning at Torquay. The series of plaques honours the returned servicemen from World War 1 who built the Great Ocean Road as a tribute to their mates who died in the war.
There are a number of significant sites along the way relating to World War 1 including Grassy Creek site of the construction camp and first tollgate, as well as natural features named by the soldier-workers, such as Monash Gully, Artillery Rocks and Shrapnel Gully named after particular battles of the war. Big Hill area was nicknamed ‘the Somme’ because of the expanse of mud at this point when the road was constructed.