Genealogy is a favourite hobby for many people and, in particular, retirees. As time goes on, the importance of stories, family and otherwise is emphasised.

Peter Calver, the founder of the Lost Cousins website, says that many subscribers to his genealogical newsletter are approaching retirement or have retired.

It’s enjoyable work for Peter, who told me: ‘I’ve put thousands of people in touch with living relatives they didn’t know about, and often the cousins live on opposite sides of the world.’

With the current Covid-19 restrictions, many libraries have made research sites available online—and for free.

Family history unearths many stories and some people enjoy passing the stories on to the younger generation.

The Great Ocean Road Story

One story many people may have in their family history is in the making of the 243 kilometre Great Ocean Road that runs from Torquay to Allansford in Victoria.

Ocean with green shrubs in front, the Importance Of Stories.
Photo: Cassie Lafferty

Recently I heard, via Zoom, a presentation from film producers, Jac Tonks and Claire Falkiner about their documentary, The Story Of The Road

Peter Spring, Vice President of the Lorne Historical Society, also contributed to the presentation.

This excellent documentary tells the story of World War 1 returned servicemen creating the road. It’s said to be the longest war memorial in the world.

The project was the foresight of Howard Hitchcock, a Geelong identity, who was a councillor and mayor.

The work on the Road was hard, with muddy landslides and an unstable environment. It reminded some men working there of The Somme on the Western Front. The men used picks and shovels, wheelbarrows and explosives in making the road.

The pay was 10 shillings and sixpence for an 8-hour day. There was a half-day of work on a Saturday with Sunday off.

The Importance Of Stories, Lorne

The Lorne Historical Society would like to hear from people around Australia who may be able to identify the workers of the Great Ocean Road.

Green bushland along a road with ocean to the  left of road, the Importance Of Stories.
Photo: Anders Krøgh Jørgensen

Loss of records

After the Great Ocean Road opened (in 1932) the records of men working on the road went to a warehouse in Geelong. Unfortunately, the records were destroyed because they were not seen to be of significance.

The Society would like to ‘humanise’ the road by telling stories of the people involved. So far 440 men have been identified.

rocks in ocean along side jagged cliff, the Importance Of Stories.
Photo: Vladimir Haltakov

If you’re able to help out, please contact the Lorne Historical Society at

The Importance Of Stories!

Jill Weeks is the author of 21 Ways To Retire and co-author of Where To Retire In Australia and Retire Bizzi. She is a regular contributor to ABC radio. For more, go to:

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