Behind Great Ocean Roads

Tactical renovations to attract visitors and support local communities

The Great Ocean Road alone attracts 40% of the region’s total visitors. The inland towns and hinterland lack tourism attractions that could benefit regional economic growth and make the environment more attractive for residents.

Surveying the existing case studies:


Storefronts and hotels are the main components of streetscapes in the regional towns.Originally, storefronts were food shops, blacksmith shops, bakeries, etc., while hotels provided accommodations for visitors and pubs. Today, many storefronts are abandoned or have been converted into private houses, and many hotels are closed.

The renovation of facades and the establishment of new businesses is necessary for the local community and to attract tourism.

The Blue Wren (Cobden), The Elephant Bridge Hotel (Darlington), The Farmers Arms Hotel (Beeac), and Mount Noorat Hotel (Noorat) are exemples of successful renovations that revived their towns and brought visitors.


The recent development of the town of Timboon illustrates well what it takes to bring life back to a town center by rehabilitating a building. Timboon is located 20 minutes from the coast and was established in the 1870s. The closure of the train line in 1986 put a stop to the town’s development, and the shops in its center closed. The railway was later transformed into a walking trail.

Tim Marwood and Caroline Simmons are Timboon’s locals who decided to transform the old railway shed into a distellery and open an Ice Creamery. The two establishments have around 70’000 visitors per year and employ between 25 and 30 local people each.

Public meetings showed the local community is proud of the town Timboon became and want to prioritize tourism development and the renovations of their streetscape.


After the renovation of the railway shed, local producers started formalising an itinerary between the distillery and other production places, such as a cheesery and a winery.

The trail  is a very efficient tool in dispersing tourism in the hinterlands and providing new services to the local community.

The businesses on the Gourmet trail located outside the towns reinterpret commonly found typologies on farms, such as metal sheds.


‘The lake edge cafe, on Lois Dupleix’s cattle farm used to be a school. Lois moved cottages and an the school to her cattle farm to transform them in accomodations and a cafe.

Relocating buildings is a creative way to bring visitors to the hinterland and create new meeting spaces for the local communities.

Other ‘moving buildings’ are tiny houses, buildings constructed to be moveable. Ample, an Australian compagny, worked with ‘Visit Victoria’ to propose a touristic off-grid tiny house called ‘ Stella the Stargazer.’ It’s made with reclaimed material and chanfe location every eight weeks to bring visitors to different places in the hinterland.

Typologies and Opportunities


The following typologies of buildings can be found in most town centers. Renovating these buildings is essential to create life in the town and offer meeting space for the local communities and visitors.

1. Storefronts
2. Hotels
3. Small “Stand-Alone” Building
4. Large “Stand-Alone” Building

Storefronts and hotels have a public front facing main streets. The renovation opportunities for these typologies are their facades, creating skylight openings, and offering a terrasse in the backyard. 

The small Stand-Alone buildings are often in wood and were schools or churches. They can easily be re-used for public or commercial use by adding a porch or a closed extension.

Large Stand-Alone buildings are usually old community halls or factories and can be easily converted by creating new openings on their roof and facades.


Converted metal sheds and tiny houses can bring visitors to the hinterlands between the towns. The metal sheds are already everywhere on the farms, and tiny houses can be placed anywhere.

1. The metal sheds

are used for storage, animals, or parking spaces for tractors and cars. These sheds are standardized, so strategic renovations can easily be replicated.They can be altered in many ways because of their light structure and non-bearing cladding.

2. For tiny houses

many small variations can create an entirely different atmosphere.It is necessary to open up the facade in a small space, and the tiny house could be completed with a deck to have an outdoor space.

There is much more to this area than the coastal towns and landscape of Great Ocean Road. The combination of tactical renovations in the centers and the hinterlands can efficiently attract visitors inland, spread economic prosperity, and provide a meeting place for the local community.