Lorne was first settled by Europeans in 1849. The town received its name in celebration of the marriage between Princess Louise and the Marquess of Lorne. Prior to European settlers, the land was inhabited by the King Parrot people of the Cape Otway Coast.
Its name is not its only brush with fame, in 1891 the famous author Rudyard Kipling visited the seaside town, and was so inspired he wrote the poem Flowers.
The Great Ocean Road was extended to Lorne, and a passenger road was built from Geelong in the 1920’s, and quickly the town grew with a school, hotel, hall and library. The Great Ocean Road was built by 3000 returning service men from World War I, and as a memorial to these men, a wooden arch was constructed near the entrance of Lorne. The road was built as a memorial to those lost in the war, making it the largest war memorial in the world. There is a car park next to the arch so that visitors can stop and take their photo before they travel on to Lorne. The arch has been destroyed twice, once by a truck driver who lost control and once by fire, but this iconic fixture keeps getting replaced.
Guesthouses quickly started to appear from 1930. By the 1950’s it had become one of Victoria’s favourite destinations, particularly with the growing popularity of surfing. Although completely rebuilt now, parts of Lorne were destroyed in the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires. Today the population is less than 1500 people, however, it swells to over 13,000 during the holiday season, so most of the town is employed within the tourism industry.
Today Lorne is home to the famous Pier to Pub swim race, and a number of festivals including the Falls Music and Arts Festival.