The World’s Largest War Memorial

Samuel Reason

We can find the largest war memorial in the world located in Australia, the Great Ocean Road. It stretches over 243 kilometers through the west coasts of Victoria and even between Torquay and Allansford. Construction started on the road after World War I, built by soldiers returning home, the official work started on 19 September 1919.

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Victoria’s southwest coast was extremely isolated, just little settlements that were connected via little rugged roads. The Chairman of the region, William Calder, decided it was time the towns had a real road. He submitted a plan to the Victorian government at the time to provide the infrastructure to build a proper road. Calder presented the project by advising it would provide hundreds of employment for soldiers returning home from war.

Though the project was approved by the government, the finances were provided by a private company, the Great Ocean Road Trust. This was a philanthropist company and not really for profit, it was simply thought they would charge a toll on the road to recoup their cost, then remove the toll completely.

Over 3000 soldiers took part in the road’s construction, they lived rough in the bushes, sleeping out in tent cities that moved along as the road progressed. It was nearly all done manually, blasting was used only to remove extremely rugged rocks from certain parts of the terrain – otherwise, it was just good old fashion digging. The job was popular because it paid ten shillings and sixpence per day, which was higher than the six shillings they received as soldiers in the Army.

The road was built in sections and the whole project was finally finished in 1932, and it was declared to be an official War Memorial dedicated to all the Australian soldiers who died between 1914 and 1918. In 2011 the road was even moved into Australia’s National Heritage List. The project was an amazing success employing so many people and also opening up access to Victoria’s west coast, which gave the region significant improvements overall.

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