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 regarded as one of the world’s iconic coastal drives, while also linking the 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 in 2013 committed, between them, $50m towards the maintenance of the Great Ocean Road, with a further $50 million in 2016. Late in 2016, the state government announced a further $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.

Visitation yield

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.

Improved private and public sector tourist facilities and associated amenities are needed to enhance the visitor experience and maximise the economic benefit to the G21 region and the state.


The Great Ocean Road and surrounds is managed by various agencies including:

  • Surf Coast Shire
  • Colac Otway Shire
  • Borough of Queenscliffe
  • Corangamite Shire
  • Warrnambool City
  • Moyne Shire
  • Great Ocean Road Coastal Committee
  • Great Ocean Road Tourism
  • Tourism Greater Geelong and the Bellarine
  • VicRoads
  • Parks Victoria
  • Western Coastal Board
  • Victorian Coastal Council

The fragmented nature of the management of the Great Ocean Road is a major hindrance to the realisation of its economic potential, both to the G21 region and Victoria.

There is a need to simplify and better coordinate management arrangements, possibly through an over-sighting body or taskforce covering the length of the Great Ocean Road. The State Government has established a taskforce to make recommendations on this and other matters in the first half of 2018.

Iconic Infrastructure Opportunities

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

A Federal Government 'City Deal' funding agreement, covering Geelong and the Great Ocean Road, with the State and local governments ia a possible means of fast-tracking infrastructure development along the Road.

Priorities for such infrastructure investment include:

Fort Queenscliff Tourism Precinct

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

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 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.

Apollo Bay Harbour

Apollo Bay’s harbour is one of only three safe blue-water havens in Victoria west of Port Phillip Bay. It is home to the local fishing industry with a fleet generating an annual catch of $6.5 million. However, the harbour has limited facilities for blue-water recreational boating enthusiasts, or for enhanced tourism and leisure experiences.

Increased investment is needed in quality tourist infrastructure, community facilities, and visitor experiences in heritage and environment, food, wine and other indulgent products.

An Apollo Bay Harbour Master Plan has been developed. Colac Otway Shire Council is now investigating interest to invest in public and private infrastructure.

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, including by enhancing its adventure trails network.

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.

A majority of the trails are associated with the natural beauty of the Great Ocean Road precinct and its hinterland. Although, there are some trails to be found further inland.

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.

The concept and business plan will be finalised in October 2017.

Shipwreck Coast masterplan

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.

G21 therefore supports implementation of the masterplan, which is calling for $340 million of infrastructure upgrades, both public and private sector.

Project Champions

Keith Baillie, CEO, Surf Coast Shire
Robert Dobrzynski, Acting CEO, Colac Otway Shire

What has been committed

Maintenance of the Great Ocean Road

Federal and state governments have committed $153 million:

  • the federal and state governments each committed $25 million to upgrade the Great Ocean Road (2013 - as a result of G21's OMGreatOceanRoad campaign)
  • the federal government made an election commitment of $25 million for further upgrades to the Great Ocean Road (June 2016)
  • the state government matched the federal election commitment, providing $25 million for further upgrades to the Great Ocean Road (Nov 2016), and
  • the state government committed $53 million for ongoing works beginning early 2017, specifically for resurfacing, stabilisation, signage and traffic management technology improvements (Dec 2016 & 2017/18 Budget)

Shipwreck Coast masterplan

The Victorian government has committed $9.8 million on a range of tourism experiences including:

  • a new world-class lookout at the Twelve Apostles
  • a new lookout over 'The Blowhole'
  • a new pedestrian bridge over Campbell's Creek in Port Campbell, and
  • telecommunications, WiFi and a digital interpretation around the Twelve Apostles.

Adventure Trails

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
  • $100,000 towards the Geelong Waterfront and Cycle Connections
  • $40,000 towards Anglesea Mountain Bike Park
  • $30,000 towards Forrest Mountain Bike Strategic Plan (2014)
  • to help Barwon Water develop 66 hectares of public parkland around the heritage-listed ovoid sewer aqueduct in Breakwater.

What is required

Maintenance of the Great Ocean Road

Federal and state government commitment to on-going long-term funding to maintain the Great Ocean Road as a vital economic asset (unspecified funding committed in 2017-18 State Budget for upgrading and bridge strengthening).

Management of the Great Ocean Road

Implementation of a State Government 2017/18 Budget commitment to establish a taskforce to examine simplification of the Great Ocean Road's management.

Fort Queenscliff Tourism Precinct

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

Apollo Bay Harbour

A state/federal government commitment of:

  • $150,000 to complete a business case and expression of interest process to inform a final Development Plan for the harbour.
  • $10+ million to implement a final Development Plan, including public infrastructure such as new internal promenade sea wall and harbour management compound, expansion of the boat ramp and parking facilities, realignment of dangerous harbour road entrance, walking trails and new sailing club facilities.

Great Ocean Road Gateway

Commitment to support implementation of the Great Ocean Road Gateway project, on completion of concept development and business case.

Shipwreck Coast Masterplan

Government and private sector support for the proposed $340 million of infrastructure upgrades as outline in the Shipwreck Coast Masterplan.

City Deal

A Federal Government 'City Deal' funding agreement for Geelong, including the Great Ocean Road, was announced and an initial memorandum of understanding signed by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Acting Premier James Merlino in Geelong in January 2018. The specific projects to benefit under a City Deal agreement continue to be discussed between the federal, state and relevant local governments. 

Adventure Trails

A government commitment of $18.9 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 - Stage 2 feasibility $480,000
Forrest Mountain Bike Park - Master Plan implementation $360,000
$4.3 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
$14.6 million
$18.9 million