For many visitors to the Great Ocean Road, the busy towns of Anglesea and Lorne are popular destinations for a day tour or even a long holiday. However, the small communities of Eastern View, Moggs Creek, Fairhaven and Airey’s Inlet, which hug a spectacular six kilometre stretch of unbroken beach, are far from a sleepy little collection of houses.
Jonas Hollingworth and his wife Elizabeth were true pioneers of Eastern View, having first selected land there in 1879 and they initially lived in a bark hut. Their daughter Mary Ann Clarke and her husband George later established a prosperous farm, post office and telephone exchange, and the opening of the Great Ocean Road in 1922 saw them able to more easily deliver their milk and other farm produce to Lorne. In 1924, Alfred Farthing came to Eastern View and for the next thirty years he built and ran the Eastern View Hotel, a favourite holiday resort and stopping place for guests from Melbourne and Geelong. There was a tennis court and a promenade deck with stunning views to the sea. A nine hole golf course, opened by the Governor in 1936, ensured visitors had plenty to keep them occupied, yet the course closed at the commencement of World War Two and never reopened.
Fairhaven received its name from the home built by Robert Cowan after he purchased land next to the Great Ocean Road in 1931. Five years later, Robert and his wife Irene opened ‘Fairhaven’ as a guesthouse, with a large sign at the entrance welcoming patrons. In 1957, the Fairhaven Life Saving Club was founded and has grown in both numbers and significance ever since.
Located in Airey’s Inlet near today’s iconic lighthouse is a small cairn marking the grave of pioneers Thomas Pearse and his wife Martha. Thomas died in 1862 from hepatitis and Martha merely eight years later and was buried next to her husband overlooking the ocean. The bark hut they built survived over 120 years until the devastating 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires and a replica was later built by their descendants in their honour.
Named after the settler brothers, John Moore and George Airey, current streets and roads bear the names of other early pioneers, such as Lugg, Cowan, Anderson and Hopkins, testimony to their contributions in the fledgling community. Even before these families settled here, the notorious convict William Buckley had spent 32 years roaming along the local coast and into the Otway Ranges after escaping from Sorrento Prison in 1803.
For holidaymakers and visitors alike, the stretch of magnificent coastline between Airey’s Inlet and Eastern View offers not only incredible scenery but also a fascinating insight into early pioneering history of this spectacular coastal region.
Thank you to Anglesea Historical Society for all photos except for Eastern View Arch and newspaper excerpt