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  • Written by Oliver & York

A new chapter in Great Ocean Road history will begin on September 18, 2019 when Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism host the official launch of celebrations to mark 100 years since construction of the iconic road began.

Gala Screenings at the historic Lorne Theatre, will provide a first-look at the new documentary ‘The Story of the Road’ and unveil the highly anticipated series of pop-up cinemas, public art installations and augmented reality experiences on display until 6 October 2019 from Torquay to Apollo Bay.

Built by returned WWI serviceman and civilians as a Tourist Road, Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism Chairman, Wayne Kayler-Thomson, says the Great Ocean Road today holds its place proudly as a global destination for tourists and locals alike.

Great Ocean Road is a destination of rich history and many untold stories,” said Wayne. “sharing these stories with 6m plus visitors per annum is critical to encouraging them to slow down, stay longer and return.”

The Great Ocean Road is a place that captivates and intrigues first time visitors and sees many visitors return for this reason. It breathes life into the region and has done so for 100 years. That is something we proudly celebrate,” said Wayne.

The largest War memorial in the world, the Great Ocean Road commenced construction on September 19, 1919 and today attracts more than 6m visitors per year, connecting visitors with destinations and big nature experiences along the 243km journey and beyond.

This celebration is about using a variety of mediums to start to tell the stories of the road and the region. Film, art and augmented reality experiences told in Pop Up Cinemas and within the landscape, mean there is something for everyone,” said Wayne.

“We are inviting visitors to take their time, slow down and enjoy the individual stories of the road so that they too can create more of their own.”

The Great Ocean Road ‘Stories of the Road’ celebrations will run from 18 September, 2019 to 6 October, 2019 with tickets and event information via visitgreatoceanroad.org.au/iam100

Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism are facilitating the centenary project on behalf of project partners regional Roads Victoria, Colac Otway Shire and Surf Coast Shire and in partnership with Lorne Business and Tourism Association, Lorne Historical Society, Business and Tourism Anglesea, Apollo Bay Chamber of Commerce and Apollo Bay Historical Society. The program has been developed, designed and delivered by The Social Crew Event Agency and funded through the State Governments Regional Event and Regional Event & Innovation Funds.

The Documentary has been produced and directed by Clothesline Content through funding by the Department of Premier and Cabinet’s Victoria Remembers Major Grant Program.

Further reading

The Great Ocean Road Centenary – The Vision, The legacy, The future - an open letter from Chair of Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism Chairman, Wayne Kayler-Thomson

Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism has facilitated the “I am 100 – The Stories of the Road” project to to celebrate a century since construction began on what is now the internationally recognised, Great Ocean Road.

One hundred years ago, Howard Hitchcock, often referred to as the ‘father of the Road’, had a vision: To create an iconic tourist road along the cliffs of the Southern Ocean of Western Victoria that would provide employment for returning “diggers”, provide access to coastal settlements and provide holiday experiences for visitors.”

What a vision, what an extraordinary project and what determination to deliver it!

One hundred years on, what is the legacy?

What is our generations vision for the next 100 years?

What are the opportunities and challenges?

What is in progress and what is required to achieve the vision?

The Legacy

Hitchcock’s vision has resulted in

  • An iconic Australian visitor destination and visitor economy delivering

    • $1.7b annual tourism consumption

    • 15.2% annual GRP

    • 17% regional jobs

    • 6.2m annual visitors, 7m visitor nights

  • Thriving coastal communities. Permanent residents and holiday housing with compound increases in property values and community support services

  • Natural environment protected as National and Marine Parks and other public estate assets.

  • A growing regional population attracted to accessible coastal living.

A 21st Century Vision

The thriving visitor economy has provided the region with the opportunity to transform the region from its traditional primary industry reliance to create a vibrant and sustainable economic, social, environment and cultural future.

Tourism is the worlds largest industry with outstanding growth prospects, especially for Australia, given the growth and travel aspirations of the growing middle class of the worlds largest population of Asia. International tourism trends are towards experiencing sustainable destinations offering immersive environmental and cultural experiences that minimise the impact on the environment.

To ensure an enduring future for the Great Ocean Road region, a vision with the boldness, imagination, foresight and determination of Hitchcock is required.

Such a vision could be, to develop and manage the Great Ocean Road region as a world leading sustainable visitor destination that celebrates,manages and shares its environment and cultural experiences, funded by visitor contributions.

The Opportunities and Challenges

To achieve such a vision will require leadership of strategic planning, governance, public and private infrastructure investment and a collaborative social contract between residents, visitors, traditional owners, regional organisations and governments.

The primary opportunities to realise such a vision requires investment commensurate with the scale of visitation growth and strategies to change visitor behaviour, to increase length of stay, dispersal (both geographic and seasonal) and the standard of visitor servicing to deliver visitor satisfaction and brand endorsement as a world leading sustainability destination.

To underpin this vision, the future state of the region could feature:

  • The Eden Project at Anglesea

  • An upgraded GOR and inland routes

  • A world class 12 Apostles Precinct Visitor Experience

  • An outstanding Tower Hill cultural and wildlife experience

  • The World Heritage Budj Bim cultural experience

  • A network of high quality integrated sustainable accomodation resorts and dining experiences

These core attractions and services will play an active role in changing the way the region is consumed, appeal to new audiences and facilitate investment and development of other accomodation, attractions, events and services to further enhance visitor experiences and community sustainability.

The region has outstanding forecast visitor growth and we must activate strategies now to manage growth and maximise the return from the visitor economy to local communities. This will require investment of scale in the maintenance and renewal of the public infrastructure of our coast and National Parks and the range ,quality and scale of accomodation, attractions and services commensurate with demand.

This challenge will require innovative strategic planning and governance, investment and coordinated delivery by all levels of government over multiple terms.

The foresight and determination of the example set by Hitchcock and his contemporaries will be required.

Are we up to it?

What is in Progress

In 2015, GORRT Ltd led the production of a 10-year Visitor Economy Master Plan for the region. This plan identified the need for $1 bill investment (public and private) to meet demand and address decades of failure to maintain and develop public and visitor assets and services.

The plan identified the need to change visitor behaviour, manage the impact of “profitless volume” of increasing visitor numbers and reform the regions governance.

Since 2015 the following progress has been made

  • An investment pipeline of $1.5bill in public and private infrastructure is either committed,approved or in various stages of planning

    • $153m GOR maintenance

    • $ 120m Shipwreck Coast Master Plan stage 1 and 2 (12 Apostles precinct)

    • $ 100m Approved accomodation projects

    • $ 900m Accomodation projects in planning

    • $ 150m attraction projects in planning

    • $12m Budj Bim World Heritage listing and stage 1 funding committed

  • Strategic planning projects in progress

    • Workforce planning

    • Visitor servicing

    • Aboriginal product development

    • Road signing upgrade

  • Governance reform via GOR Action Plan

  • Identification of opportunities to secure sustainable funding from visitors

What is a required now?

  • A strategic planning framework for 5, 10 and 50-year timeframes

  • Implement the governance reform as proposed by the GOR Action Plan but enhanced to deliver the short and long-term management and development of the region relative to the vision and opportunities.

  • Implement visitor funding proposals to fund the GOR Authority and investment in public infrastructure. This can raise more than $ 1b over a decade

  • Facilitate private investment enabled by reform of statutory planning

  • A commitment by all levels of government to support the governance, statutory planning reforms and collaborative delivery of seamless visitor services

The extraordinary legacy of the founders and builders of the GOR provides the inspiration for leaders of current and future generations to plan and deliver a vision for a sustainable world leading region which finances its future from visitor contributions.

Are we up to it?

Wayne Kayler-Thomson


Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism

0417 054 421

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