The Great Ocean Road was first planned towards the end of the first world war, when chairman of the Country Roads Board William Calder asked the State War Council for funds be provided for returned soldiers to work on roads in sparsely populated areas in the Western district.By the time of World War I, the rugged south-west coast of Victoria was accessible only by sea or rough bush track.Besides being dedicated as a memorial, it was also envisaged that the road would connect isolated settlements on the coast, and become a vital transport link for the timber industry and tourism.
Surveying for the road, tentatively titled the South Coast Road, started in 1918 – with the road suggested to travel from Barwon Heads, follow the coast west around Cape Otway, and end near Warrnambool. In 1918, the Great Ocean Road Trust was formed as a private company, under the helm of president Howard Hitchcock. The company managed to secure £81,000 in capital from private subscription and borrowing, with Hitchcock himself contributing £3000. Money would be re
paid by charging drivers a toll until the debt was cleared, and the road would then be gifted to the state.