Great Ocean Road history

The 243-kilometre, National Heritage listed, Great Ocean Road is one of the world's most scenic and iconic coastal touring routes.

Its limestone cliffs, rainforest, shipwreck history and world class-surfing breaks make the Great Ocean Road one of Australia’s most popular destinations for visitors, and Victoria’s most significant tourism asset.

The road connected isolated communities when it was constructed between 1919 and 1932 by returned servicemen to honour their fellow soldiers and sailors from World War one.

The coastal and forested landscapes along the road are of high cultural, ecological and economic importance to the Wadawurrung and Eastern Maar people who have known this country, and cared for it, since the beginning.

Scientific importance

The coastline includes rare dinosaur fossil sites, the best-known being Dinosaur Cove.

Fossils collected from numerous sites along the coast continue to provide important scientific information.

Elements impacting the Great Ocean Road

Like many international tourist destinations, the Great Ocean Road is under threat from:

  • increasing visitor numbers
  • environmental forces
  • impacts of climate change.

When combined, these elements have a negative impact on the beaches, cliffs, plants, animals and on both the day to day and long-term operation of the road.

If left unchecked, these threats could destroy this precious part of our state and impact on the liveability of local communities.

Governance of the Great Ocean Road

Today, the Great Ocean Road governance arrangements involve many different organisations across a range of jurisdictions.

There are 30 public entities with accountabilities including:

  • strategy development and implementation:
  • land-use planning
  • management and administration
  • infrastructure delivery
  • asset maintenance
  • emergency management
  • investment facilitation
  • destination promotion and brand stewardship.

This includes 11 different Crown land managers with responsibility for managing the coastal foreshore, public open spaces and parklands across the Great Ocean Road.

Great Ocean Road Taskforce

The Victorian Government established the independently chaired Great Ocean Road Taskforce on 14 September 2017 to review the effectiveness of current governance arrangements and to make recommendations to strengthen protection of the landscape setting, improve the visitor experience, provide greater certainty in land-use planning and attract investment proposals that will benefit tourists and local communities.

The taskforce is independently co-chaired by the Hon Peter Batchelor and the Hon Terry Mulder. Its membership includes representatives of the Traditional Owners, tourism and coastal management and local government.

The taskforce conducted the first independent assessment of the management and oversight of the entirety of the Great Ocean Road region.

The co-chairs submitted their final report with 26 recommendations in August 2018. View the Co-chairs Final Report (PDF, 13.3 MB) or Co-chairs Final Report (accessible version) (DOCX, 3.4 MB).

Great Ocean Road Taskforce Terms of Reference (PDF, 283.6 KB)


Members include:

  • Independent co-chairs: Hon Peter Batchelor and Hon Terry Mulder.

Nominees of the Traditional Owners of Country:

  • Wadawurrung: Ms Corrina Eccles (Manager Geelong Office) and Mr Paul Davis (General Manager)
  • Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation: Mr Jamie Lowe (CEO) and
    Mr Jason Mifsud (Chair).

Members with expertise and experience in tourism and coastal management, and understand the key issues relating to the governance of the Great Ocean Road:

  • Mr Wayne Kayler-Thomson,
    Chair of Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism
  • Ms Diane James, AM,
    former Chair of the Victorian Coastal Council for over a decade
  • Ms Elaine Carbines, AM
    Chief Executive Officer of G21 - The Geelong Region Alliance.

The CEOs of the five Local Government Authorities along the Great Ocean Road:

  • Surf Coast Shire
  • Colac Otway Shire
  • Corangamite Shire
  • Warrnambool City Council
  • Moyne Shire.

External resources

The work of the taskforce will build on prior work undertaken in the:

Great Ocean Road Region Strategy 2004

Shipwreck Coast Master Plan 2015

Strategic Master Plan for the Great Ocean Road Region Visitor Economy 2015-2025

It is also to draw on the experience of cooperative efforts during the Wye River Bushfire Reconstruction process.

Page last updated: 11/11/22