Great Ocean Road

Economic Development Pillar

The Need

The National Heritage-listed Great Ocean Road is the critical underpinning infrastructure that supports the Great Ocean Road region’s $2.1 billion tourism industry. Stretching for 243 kilometres, the Great Ocean Road is one of the world’s iconic coastal drives, linking numerous tourism villages and destinations along the coast.

The road is also the focus of the region’s adventure tourism, including an extensive trails network.

The Great Ocean Road is a significant economic driver, not just to the G21 region but also to Victoria. Visitors access it from many locations including Avalon Airport, Princes and Hamilton highways and Queenscliff, via road, ferry and rail.

Project Aims

Maintaining the Great Ocean Road

Given the Great Ocean Road’s iconic status and economic importance, it is essential for the road to be appropriately maintained and developed to meet current and forecast usage.

The state and federal governments (2013) committed $50 million towards the maintenance of the Great Ocean Road, with a further $50 million in 2016. Late in 2016, the state government announced an additional $53 million for infrastructure along the Great Ocean Road, including a barrier to prevent landslips from affecting the road at Wye River.

While this much-needed funding was extremely welcome, on-going long-term funding commitments are necessary to maintain this vital economic asset for future generations.

Building Visitation yield & creating Iconic Infrastructure

More than seven million people visit the Great Ocean Road each year – indeed, more overseas tourists visit the Great Ocean Road than the Great Barrier Reef. However, the yield from this high-level visitation is extremely low, with the average visitor spend at the 12 Apostles being just 17 cents.

Investment in destination infrastructure is essential along the Great Ocean Road in order to increase the economic yield of visitation.

Priorities for such infrastructure investment include:

Adventure Trails
A spectacular natural landscape, close proximity to Melbourne and strong population growth in areas such as Geelong and the Surf Coast, gives the G21 region a unique advantage to grow the ‘adventure tourism’ market.

The Growing Adventure Tourism initiative has a vision for the G21 region ‘to be recognised as Victoria’s premier trail destination with a range of trails and cycling touring routes that offer exceptional natural adventure experiences’.

This aligns with Victoria’s Trails Strategy 2014-24 vision for Victoria to be recognised as a leading trail-based destination.

Apollo Bay Harbour
Apollo Bay Harbour is one of only three safe blue water havens in Victoria west of Port Phillip Bay. It contributes more than $43 million annually to the state economy and is home to a local fishing industry with a fleet of 11 and annual catch of $10 million.

However, the harbour has significant marine safety issues that urgently requires attention. It also has limited facilities to expand commercial fishing opportunities or enhance tourism and leisure experiences.

The harbour needs investment to ensure its ongoing viability as a working harbour and visitor drawcard. Quality tourist infrastructure, community facilities and premium food, wine and indulgence offerings will help reduce the region’s seasonality and extend visitor length of stay (and spend).

Fort Queenscliff Tourism Precinct
With its iconic location, rich history and heritage buildings and assets, Fort Queenscliff is ideally placed as a potential tourism destination of national significance.

The Fort Queenscliff Precinct Tourism Master Plan identifies how the Fort could attract visitors to Queenscliff, supporting businesses, strengthening the community and stimulating the economy.

The Master Plan outlines four core principles that underpin future planning and decision-making and incorporates seven projects that would activate the Fort with little or no impact upon existing operations.

Great Ocean Road Gateway
As the eastern start of the Great Ocean Road, Torquay has a vital role to play in influencing the visitor journey through the Great Ocean Road precinct.

A three-part strategy has been developed to:

  • make Torquay a ‘gateway’ to the Great Ocean Road experience;
  • build compelling assets to attract high-yield visitors and increase dwell-time and visitor yield; and
  • use marketing and technology to promote a multifaceted experience, connecting what Torquay already offers to better meet visitor expectations.

Surf Coast Shire Council, with Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism, is undertaking research for a business case to deliver an experience including key cultural and interpretative concepts to ensure Torquay is a ‘must do’ Great Ocean Road destination.

Shipwreck Coast Master Plan
The Shipwreck Coast Master Plan has been developed for a 28 km stretch along the state's south-west coast, from Princetown to the Bay of Islands, which incorporates the Twelve Apostles, Port Campbell and the Blowhole.

Although not within the G21 region, the Shipwreck Coast is an integral part of the Great Ocean Road tourist experience. Any initiative to improve visitor experience along the Great Ocean Road will ultimately benefit the economy of the G21 region.

G21 supports implementation of the master plan, which calls for both public and private sector infrastructure upgrades.

Project Champions

Keith Baillie, Chief Executive Officer, Surf Coast Shire
Peter Brown, Chief Executive Officer, Colac Otway Shire

What has been committed

Maintenance of the Great Ocean Road

Federal and State Governments have committed $153 million:

  • $25 million each to upgrade the Great Ocean Road (2013, as a result of G21's OMGreatOceanRoad! campaign)
  • $25 million each for further upgrades ( 2016).

The State Government has committed:

  • $53 million for ongoing maintenance (2017); for resurfacing, stabilisation, signage and traffic management technology improvements
  • $9.8 million for upgrades to key hinterland connections; Birregurra-Forrest Road, Skenes Creek Road and Forrest-Apollo Bay Road.
Management of the Great Ocean Road

The State Government has:

  • established an Agency, with an independent board and new planning approvals process, to protect the area and its environment.
Iconic Infrastructure Opportunities

Adventure Trails
The Federal Government has committed:

  • $5 million to design and implement the Great Ocean Walk stage one through the Geelong City Deal
  • $350,000 towards a feasability study investigating the Great Ocean Walk stage two (linking Skenes Creek to the Surf Coast Walk) through the Geelong City Deal.

The State Government has committed:

  • $3 million towards the Barwon River Parklands Partnership and Strategy development
  • $80,000 towards development of the Regional Trails Master Plan (2009)
  • $5.9 million towards the Great Ocean Walk
  • $1.1 million towards the Bellarine Rail Trail
  • $800,000 towards the Surf Coast Walk
  • $500,000 towards the Old Beechy Rail Trail
  • $300,000 to investigate the creation of a walking trail between Torquay and Apollo Bay
  • $100,000 towards the Geelong Waterfront and Cycle Connections
  • $100,000 towards the Forrest Mountain Bike Trails Detailed Design Plan (2018)
  • $40,000 towards Anglesea Mountain Bike Park
  • $30,000 towards Forrest Mountain Bike Strategic Plan (2014)
  • to help Barwon Water develop public parkland at Breakwater's heritage-listed ovoid sewer aqueduct.

Apollo Bay Harbour

The Federal Government has committed:

  • $12 million towards the implementation of the Apollo Bay Harbour Master Precinct Plan through the Geelong City Deal.

Shipwreck Coast masterplan

The Federal Government has committed

  • $57.5 million towards the Shipwreck Coast Master Plan stage two implementation through the Geelong City Deal.

The State Government has committed

  • $9.8 million towards the Shipwreck Coast Master Plan stage two implementation
  • funding towards the Shipwreck Coast Master Plan stage two implementation through the Geelong City Deal.

What is required

A commitment by State and Federal governments to embed GROW training, employment and procurement principles in all government projects within the region.

Maintenance of the Great Ocean Road

A State and Federal Government commitment of:

  • $20 million each year, to maintain the Great Ocean Road as a vital economic asset.
Iconic Infrastructure Opportunities

Apollo Bay Harbour
A State Government commitment of:

  • $14.6 million for projects that secure the Port of Apollo Bay’s future as a viable and attractive working harbour.
  • $200,000 support the EOI/tender and development plan processes.
  • $5 million to redevelop and enhance public infrastructure in the Apollo Bay Harbour Precinct to drive private investment, improve the visitor economy as well as boating and leisure facilities for commercial and recreational fishing.

Fort Queenscliff Tourism Precinct
Government support for implementation of the Fort Queenscliff Tourism Precinct Master Plan.

Great Ocean Road Gateway
Government support for implementation of the Great Ocean Road Gateway project (on completion of concept development and business case).

Shipwreck Coast Masterplan

Further government and private sector support for a staged sequence of upgrades as outlined in the Shipwreck Coast Masterplan.

Adventure Trails
A government commitment of $19.5 million for Years 1-4 critical works (see below figures for breakdown):

Critical works required for ‘Leading Trails’
Leading trails
Funding Required
Great Ocean Walk - Trail Head infrastructure $2.8 million
You Yangs Mountain Bike Park - Entrance upgrade $600,000
Surf Coast Walk - Planning and implementation $500,000
Forrest Mountain Bike Park - Master Plan implementation $360,000
$4.7 million
Critical works required for ‘Support Trails’
Support Trail
Barwon River Parklands $10.3 million
Geelong waterfront and connections $2.2 million
Old Beechy Rail Trail $1.2 million
Bellarine Rail Trail $660,000
Queenscliff to Barwon Heads Coastal Trail $210,000
The 3 Trails Project (Ballarat – Skipton Rail Trail, Rainbow Bird Trail, Kruc a Ruc Trail) $180,000
Living Moorabool Trail  
$14.7 million
$19.4 million