The History of Lorne

The History of Lorne

The Great Ocean Road is a permanent memorial to those who lost their lives whilst fighting in World War 1, carved in rock; it winds brilliantly around the Southern Coast. Built by returned servicemen the construction of the Great Ocean Road was a huge engineering feet ending years of isolation for Lorne and other coastal communities.

The Great Ocean Road Story

Named on Australia’s National heritage list for its extraordinary historical and cultural significance, the Great Ocean Road has an incredible past waiting to be uncovered. 

Within the new Great Ocean Road Heritage Centre, located in Lorne’s Visitor Complex you can experience the real Great Ocean Road story in a purpose-built permanent exhibition. Through interpretive displays the centre showcases the entire historical story of the famous Great Ocean Road — the backbreaking account that many may not be entirely familiar with. After visiting the centre you will see the highway in an entirely different light so be sure to pop it on your ‘to do’ list. 

Memorial Arch

Celebrate the past and take a photo with the world famous Lorne Memorial Arch. Commemorate those who built the Great Ocean Road following World War One. 

Four different Memorial Arch’s have to date stood over the Great Ocean Road.  

The first was at the site of  ‘the springs’ tollgate, near Cathedral Rock. It was later demolished in 1936 when tolls were removed.  

A second Great Ocean Road arch was constructed at Eastern view in 1939. The arch weighed fifty tonnes and stood until 1970 when the Country Road Board established it wanted to demolish the arch, as it was too narrow and a traffic hazard. Public outcry prevented the destruction, however it was soon completed free of charge by an unruly truck.  

In 1972 a third, arch was built at Eastern view however that was reduced to ashes by the fires of Ash Wednesday. Finally, a fourth and final Memorial Arch was built, where fortunately it still remains today.   

There are two plaques displayed a the current site, one commemorating Major W.T.B. McCormack who was the engineer of the Great Ocean Road and the second in memory of those that served in the Great War. 

Lorne Historical Society

Lorne’s Historical Society began in 1968 with sixteen members. There was an earlier society that had a large display of artefacts and memorabilia in the old Library hall on the corner of Smith and William streets. 

Tramway Track

Lorne’s iconic history extends to the 1930s when a timber tramway track was established and built for the transportation of heavy goods. 

A walking track following the route of a logging tramline that closed in 1935 has been opened jointly constructed by the Friends of Queens Park and the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee. The track starts at the pier. Interpretative signs are provided along the track together with a mockup of one of the trolleys with a set of the original wheels used. You can walk out and back along the same track or return via Teddy’s lookout through Queens Park. 

You’ve Got Buckley’s Chance

Ever wondered where that saying may come from? The story of William Buckley is a fascinating tale of survival against all odds.  

Buckley was born in Cheshire England in 1780 and was sent as a convict to a New South Wales colony as punishment for stealing a piece of cloth. Buckley escaped from HMS Calcutta in December 1803 off the shore of Sorrento and over time continued around the bay, eventually settling in our region. Buckley famously lived with the Wathaurong people, learning their language, customs, marrying and having a daughter.  

Eventually when Batman’s colonizing party arrived in 1835, Buckley finally emerged to meet them. At first, he was unable to remember his own name and language identifying himself as the WB tattooed on his arm. He worked as an intermediary between the settlers and aboriginals and was later employed as an interpreter to resolve disputes.  

William Buckley eventually died after an incident in January 1856, though his legacy lives on in the vernacular phrase “you’ve got Buckley’s or none”. 

Lorne Historical Walks

Download the Historical Walks Guide

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Things To Do Nearby

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Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Great Ocean Road region the Wadawurrung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging. We recognise and respect their unique cultural heritage and the connection to their traditional lands. We commit to building genuine and lasting partnerships that recognise, embrace and support the spirit of reconciliation, working towards self-determination, equity of outcomes and an equal voice for Australia’s first people.