The Great Ocean Road has inspired many great writers and composers. When Rudyard Kipling visited the Great Ocean Road region – the road was still to be built in 1891 – he was so moved he wrote a poem about it. However you don’t need to write anything to appreciate the beauty of the region yourself. Instead, you might like simply to get a bit closer by hiking through the Otways or taking the Otway Fly Treetop Walk.
Kipling stayed at Erskine House in Lorne, where, according to the poem he had a wonderful time in contrast to when he stayed at Lorne Lodge, an English boarding house where he and his sister Trix lived while their parents were working in India. Kipling was treated abysmally by his landlady Mrs Holloway so that memory was one of horror. Luckily, as expressed in his poem The Flowers it does seem that the Lorne in Australia with its sandy beach and clear blue waters on Louttit Bay compensated in some way for his unhappy childhood at the Lorne Lodge in England.
Nowadays, Lorne is used as the location for schoolies week because of its great beaches and laid back atmosphere. It is one of the most popular tourist spots in the region and has a number of great cafes and unique shops along the main street.
Former lead singer of the Australian band Goanna, Shane Howard, who lived for a long time in Torquay on the Surf Coast region of the Great Ocean Road sings about the road in the song Flesh And Blood and also in his song Razor’s Edge. Torquay is the surfing capital of the region and even if you don’t surf, is a great holiday spot to visit for individuals, couples, and families alike.
Another contemporary musician of international fame, Xavier Rudd draws heavily on the many influences of the surfing culture of Torquay. A committed environmentalist he is a one-man-band/multi-instrumentalist who plays guitars, Yidaki (didgeridoo), Weissenborn slide guitars, stomp box, harmonica, and percussion. Rudd has had a number of top-selling albums both in Australia and overseas where his barefooted-playing style has won him a legion of fans, many of them like Rudd himself, keen surfers and defenders of the environment. Rudd grew up near Bells Beach, emmortalised for its minor part in the surf film with Keanu Reeves, Point Break. He drew on that surfing lifestyle when he wrote the soundtrack for Matthew McConaughey’s movie Surfer Dude which starred Woody Harrelson and Willie Nelson.
Bells Beach today is the where the annual Rip Curl Pro surfing competition is held. Thousands of surfers and supporters of surfers flock to the region to see who will become the winner. For aspiring surfers, local companies offer surfing lessons and tips, and sell world-renowned surf gear by local entrepreneurs Rip Curl, Billabong, and Quiksilver.
Yet another artist inspired by the region is Jeff Raglus. Jeff has won fame as both a musician and as one of the design artists behind yet another summer clothing range called Mambo. He has also held many exhibitions of his own work in galleries in the region.
Mike Brady, famed for a song now synonymous with Australian Rules Football – Up There Cazaly, wrote an album of songs to coincide with the 75th Anniversary of the Great Ocean Road. Brady was quoted as saying he wrote most of his material whilst staying in his “Great Ocean Road hideaway near Lorne” which is ironic as his first sight of Australia was as a young boy emigrating by ship from England was Cape Otway on the Great Ocean Road.
Indeed, many people have been inspired by the area. Camping sites dot the Otways so that if you are into making your own music, some natural sounds from the rainforest adds something unique to all compositions.
English playwright Sheila Dewey wrote about Eva Carmichael and her cabin boy Tom Pearce and the ordeal they survived when their ship, the Loch Ard, sank in treacherous seas along the Great Ocean Road. They were the only two survivors. The play ran successfully in London theatres before it was recently transformed into a movie script and is currently attracting the interest of Hollywood producers.
The romantic story is set around the Twelve Apostles and recently when one of the bridges fell down, the two remaining stacks were named Tom and Eva after the two survivors. Take your camera for a fantastic picture of rugged waves, sheer cliffs, and gorgeous surrounds. You can virtually feel the romance here, especially at sunset.
It is easy to see how poets, playwrights, and pop stars can be taken in by the unparalleled beauty, charm, romance and sheer magnificence of the Great Ocean Road as it is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular regions in the world.
So, if you ever get the chance to go to Australia, make sure the Great Ocean Road is on your list of places to visit!