Great Ocean Road makes national heritage list

By AAP with AG Staff 8 April 2011
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Victoria’s iconic Great Ocean Road has been given additional protection from development.

THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD now has additional protection after being placed on the national heritage list.

The stretch of Victorian road which winds between hillsides and beach, through rainforest and past the Twelve Apostles, is just the 20th coastal area in Australia to be heritage listed.

Its listing protects the iconic surf spot Bells Beach and environment immediately surrounding the 270km road between Torquay and Peterborough, which is dotted with tiny coastal hamlets.

Any proposed development deemed to encroach on the site’s natural or historic values must now be approved by the federal government.

Standing under the arch honouring the returned WWI soldiers who built the road, Environment Minister Tony Burke says Australia’s most famous coastal drive must always be preserved.

“The Great Ocean Road is one of the most powerful, spectacular and distinctive landscapes in Australia,” he said. “Often a listing has natural values, or a listing has a historic story or a listing has a very modern story like surfing at Bells … this one’s got it all.”

Great Ocean Road: leaving tourists and Australians alike in awe

Peter Dalton is a retired truck driver who has lived in Apollo Bay, a town midway along the road, for 40 years. He now drives a tourist bus along the road and says visitors are continually blown away by the scenic drive.

“They can’t believe it’s so close to the water; one minute they’re 200 or 300 hundred feet above the water, next they’re at sea level,” Peter says. “This (listing) is definitely a plus for the tourism industry in south-west Victoria.”

He says some of his best memories as a truckie were driving the Great Ocean Road.

“I used to come back from Melbourne at sun-up, with the sun behind me just coming up out of the water and let me tell you, there’s no better scene than driving along the Ocean Road in the first hour after sunrise.”

The Great Ocean Road was built as a testament to the sacrifice of Victoria’s WWI servicemen and women. More than 300 returned servicemen worked on the road for 13 years from 1919.

“Its construction provided long-term employment for returned servicemen, recognised their sacrifice at war and for generations has enabled people from across the world to enjoy this spectacular coastline,” the minister says.

The Great Ocean Road becomes the 92nd place on a list of Australia’s most valued natural and historic heritage sites.

Other coastal listings include:
Great Barrier Reef (Qld)
Bondi Beach (NSW)
Point Nepean (Vic)
Shark Bay (WA)