The scenic 243 kilometre stretch of Great Ocean Road along Victoria’s stunning southeast coast was built by servicemen from The Great War and dedicated to the memory of their dead compatriots.
The road winds along the coast through Port Campbell National Park, providing access to prominent landmarks such as the Twelve Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge, and is now a major tourist attraction. When originally planned, it was as a project to provide returned servicemen with work and connect isolated coastal settlements. At that time, the only access to the rugged and sparsely populated coast was by sea or rough bush track, and once completed the road became a vital transport link for the timber industry and tourism.
Port Campbell National Park contains a wide range of vegetation including coastal heathlands, shrubby sand dunes, clifftop grasslands and shrublands, open forests, woodlands and swamps. Together these support a remarkable diversity of plants many of which, due to the extensive depletion of native vegetation in the region, are of great significance including: swamp greenhood, clover glycine, square raspwort, lime fern and metallic sun-orchid. Although the park is relatively small and narrow, it plays a vital role in conserving the region’s fauna, with small but nationally significant populations of hooded plover, as well as swamp antechinus and glossy grass skink. Established tea-tree heathlands are important to the rufous bristlebird, while wetland areas provide food and nesting sites for the Australasian bittern, Lewin’s rail and swamp skink. Kangaroos shelter in the dense vegetation of the park but frequently move into nearby farmland to feed.
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