Thursday, June 26, 2014

Hilary Melton-Butcher: Great Ocean Coast Road, south Australia …

I've got a treat for you today.  Today's guest hardly needs an introduction here, most of you know my fellow history buff from across the pond, Hilary. She's has agreed to not only guest here today, but is also guesting at the A-Z Challenge Blog. These topics are linked.  Don't miss the other one.  It's about dragons...


Great Ocean Coast Road, south Australia …




"Great Ocean Road carved from the bare rock" 




Art, Science, ‘Down Under’ and bloggers … Tina of Life is Good asked if I’d do a guest post for the A-Z blog and as a guest blogger on her blog … theoretically these might have been on Vikings (these will follow) – but as is the way with my eclectic brain I’ve settled on the Great Ocean Road, south Australia and the Weedy Seadragon.

I expect many of you will have seen or heard of the BBC tv programmes ‘Coast’, where Neil Oliver, archaeologist, historian, author and broadcaster, tells us about Britain and Europe …

he has now moved to Australia (well perhaps he’s travelled there for the programmes!) – this is where these two ideas stemmed from.

The Great Ocean Road ties in with the Great War: the First World War, which I will be writing about, but I have just posted an A-Z on the recent D-Day commemorative events for World War II.


"The Hitchcock Memorial at Defiance Point - in the 1920s"


One thinks about the armed forces and their lives after having spent four or more years at War, probably in another country fighting for our and their own freedom, seeing their comrades fall, be injured or as most would be desperate to be home with their loved ones.

400,000 Australians enlisted for World War I, with appallingly 60,000 paying the ultimate sacrifice … however the work to which some returned to simply cannot have been any better, and may have been worse … I don’t know – I don’t like to think about either much … hanging off a cliff, or fighting in the War …

less than 10 months after War finished, three thousand servicemen went to work on the construction of the new coast road … hewn from the cliff face using explosives, pick and shovel, wheel barrows and some small machinery.

Anecdotal evidence suggested that the workers would rest detonators on their knees during travel, as it was the softest ride?!

They were paid 10 shillings and sixpence for eight hours work a day, also working half-day on Saturday. They had tents for accommodation, a mess tent for meals with food costing ten shillings a week?!

They did have access to a piano, gramophone and records presumably, games, newspapers and magazines … and when in 1924 the steamboat, Casino, was forced to jettison 500 barrels of beer and 120 cases of spirits – there was an unscheduled two-week long drinking break!

Howard Hitchcock, mayor of Geelong, wanted to create the road as a Memorial to the Servicemen killed during World War 1 … the road is the world’s largest war memorial … and in building it – it would open up a fairly inaccessible part of south-eastern Australia.

The route winds 243 kilometres (151 miles) wending its way through varying terrain, incredible scenery and past several prominent landmarks, including the Twelve Apostles limestone stack formations … the road is now an important tourist attraction.


 "The limestone stacks, known as The Twelve Apostles"


Also seeing this part of the programme reminded me about my recent Aspects of the British Coast, that I wrote about in this year’s A-Z Challenge … where sea stacks were meant to be mentioned in greater detail – but ended up with a brief mention under my W post – the wind erodes … these Australian stacks put my ‘weedy’ post into perspective!

The Australian coast looks just beautiful and that road trip, carved out of raw cliffs nearly 100 years ago, is a sight to behold – and one that is definitely on my bucket list.

It is full of sea stacks that are constantly being worn away, or being created … some wonderful and amazing geographical features … it must be just dazzling, raw and stunning …

So the Weedy Seadragon in my other post at the A-Z Blog ties in to some degree with this post, as do other posts I have written recently or in the A-Z Challenge in April …

Here the art is photographic images of magnificent natural scenery, the science that of geology, we are posting on blogs about that place that is down under

Hilary Melton-Butcher


©2014 All Rights Reserved

~Tina 

Don't forget about the dragons over at the A-Z Challenge Blog. These topics are linked.  

21 comments:

Suzanne Furness said...

Wow, I have never heard of this road. What a feat of endurance to build and a lasting memorial. I can see why it is a attraction now, would be wonderful to see I'm sure. Very interesting post, Hilary and hi to Tina.

Nick Wilford said...

I have my own photos of the Twelve Apostles (mine were on a much cloudier day than the photo here which looks stunning), but I never knew about the history and creation of the Coast Road. You don't even think of Australia first when thinking of WWI so this is fascinating information. Like you said, this work was probably just as dangerous as fighting in the war, but I was tickled by the two weeks drinking story!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tina - thanks for posting .. and to Suzanne and Nick for being so early to the post.

It was just such an interesting story - but I'm glad you too find the road's creation so staggering - such a feat ..

Building the road must have been dreadful ... but the fortnight off might have been just as uncomfortable with drunkenness ..

Still thanks for commenting .. cheers Hilary

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Longest war memorial - I never knew. I wonder how many men died while making the road?
You're always full of fascinating facts, Hilary!

Brian Miller said...

ah very cool on hilary guesting here....def an intriguing writer and one person i am glad i met through you....she always has such interesting historical stories and this one does not disappoint either....funny we were just talking WWII in summer school

wangiwriter said...

It is a magnificent road and a memorable drive. We enjoyed it immensely, even though we didn't see everything along the way.
So glad to have you writing about our beautiful country. Loved your item on Gould too. :-)

JoJo said...

I would love to see that area of Australia but sadly I don't think I will realistically leave North America. There are some beautiful and impressive sea stacks on the west coast USA.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Those limestone stacks are beautiful. The formations remind me of my home state of Oregon.

Jo said...

Another fascinating post Hilary. I had never heard of this road either. ten and six and ten shillings for food. So they had sixpence a week for themselves. I wonder what that was worth at the time. I also wondered how many died during construction. I love the idea of them having a drunken holiday when the booze landed ashore.

Mason Canyon said...

While this road was built to honor those who died, I'm like Alex and wonder how many more died just building it. It is truly amazing what the men created without all of our modern technology. I didn't know about this road, thanks for the wonderful information Hilary.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Alex – longest memorial is something isn’t it … Wiki – doesn’t say how many died, and I didn’t look further .. but many fewer than during WWI. Glad you enjoyed the post – thanks!

@ Brian – appreciate your thoughts .. thanks; also I aim to please everyone who reads … This post got written partly because we’re in WW2 and WW1 mode at the moment … 70 years since the end, and 100 years since the beginning ..

@ Wangi – how fabulous that you’ve visited – I certainly would love to go now .. so much history too. I love finding out about new naturalists .. so Gould was a really good find ..

@ JoJo – I totally agree with you .. I’d love to visit too – it’s definitely on my list .. but the States has some amazing places too .. I need to visit ‘you’ too …!!

@ Diane – I don’t know enough about the geology of the States .. but interesting to hear about your home state of Oregon and their limestone stacks …

@ Jo – I said per day for wages, and per week for food ..
Wiki doesn't say about the deaths during construction .. but many I'm sure - though not as many as the war ..

@ Mason – I didn’t spot those stats .. but I’m sure some did, but not as many who died during the War …

Exactly what was achieved with just a pick and shovel puts things in perspective in today’s age doesn’t it ..

Thanks for all the interesting comments .. cheers Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi everyone .. I see I didn't put in that 3,000 workers worked on the road and ancillary services .. but I don't know how many died - definitely some I know ... but not as many as during WWI ...

Cheers Hilary

D.G. Hudson said...

There are so many wonderful places to see in the world. We now have better access online and through the forethought of the Australians, better access via the road that commemorated the fallen. I don't think we ever get enough of nature's beauty.

Excellent info, Hilary! Thanks for featuring Hilary, Tina!

Fil said...

Coast is a great programme, but I haven't seen much of his Australian adventure yet .... This is so interesting Hilary ...and it looks amazing. What a monument to those men. There's a great Eric Bogle song - the Band Played Waltzing Matilda - remembering all the Australians who fought at Galipoli in World War 1.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ DG - yes were are so lucky we live now and can experience and see so much more .. but didn't go through the hardships and privations of the 1910s -40s ...

Though I agree this road is a great commemoration to those fallen during the First World War ..

@ Fil - Coast has some really interesting information and I loved the north Irish coast programme ...

Thanks for bringing up Eric Bogle - I'm not sure I'd registered the song or the words ..

Here are the lyrics, but at the end there are some notes if anyone is interested:

http://www.metrolyrics.com/and-the-band-played-waltzing-matilda-lyrics-eric-bogle.html

Thanks DG and Fil .. cheers to you all Hilary

LuAnn Braley said...

Yeah, Australia is definitely on my travel bucket list. Thanks to your informative post, I feel like I know a little about the scenery already! Checking in from the A to Z Road Trip!

Geoffrey the garden gnome said...

Greetings humans, Tina and Hilary,

I'm late, I'm terribly, terribly late. Tis time for a comment from the magic of this garden gnome.

An informative view of down under. Strewth and crikey. Seriously, human Hilary, you do some of the most comprehensive, meticulous posts within blogland.

Checking in from The Alphabark Challenge, 2014!

In hope and magic to dear human Tina and dear human Hilary.

Geoffrey :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ LuAnn - it has been on my list for years .. but writing these few posts really opened up my eyes ...

Good for you for doing the road trip - I can't keep up at the best of times .. I'm always in a pit stop!!

@ Geoffrey - ah ah now I see what's going on .. good to see you here Geoffrey from the Alphabark Challenge ...

Well I like to know too - so what I learn (or some of it!) you get in my posts ...

Thanks for commenting .. lovely to see you .. cheers Hilary

A Beer For The Shower said...

So much I didn't know here. A really fascinating story with so much history in it. I say this calls for its own two week drinking break!

Karen Lange said...

It's a treat to see Hilary here! :) She's always got good things to share. I always learn something new. Thanks, Tina, for hosting today!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ A Beer for the Shower - well with 4th of July and Canada Day this week .. seems like two weeks for a beer festival would fit right in!

But I think those men deserved their beer .. digging out a road by hand ..

@ Karen - good to see you and I loved how these stories could all link together .. and I learnt lots too ..

Cheers Hilary