He also had a powerful view of its worth as a tourist attraction, proclaiming it better for its ocean, mountain, river and fern gully scenery than the Riviera in France, the San Francisco Road and Bulli Pass in New South Wales.
Survey work began in August 1918 and thousands of returned soldiers descended on the area to start work. It was back-breaking work with no heavy machinery to help – only picks, shovels and horse-drawn carts.
The first stage linking Lorne and Eastern View was completed in early 1922. Over the next decade, the trust continued its work on the Great Ocean Road linking Lorne with Cape Patton and Anglesea, while the Country Roads Board built the Cape Patton to Apollo Bay link.
And finally, a road
On 26 November 1932 the route was officially opened by the Lieutenant Governor, Sir William Irvine. It was a sight to see with a procession of 40 cars and schoolchildren lining parts of the route.
Road travellers during the early years paid a toll at gates at Eastern View, where a memorial arch was erected. Drivers paid two shillings and sixpence and passengers one shilling and sixpence. The toll was abolished when the Trust moved to hand over the road as a gift to the State Government on 2 October 1936.