The world's longest war memorial takes in spectacular coast and bush, writes David Leggat.
You could do it right at the start; or choose the point where the monument stands.
Just one suggestion: don't wait until the end of the Great Ocean Rd to stop and pay homage to thousands who built it in recognition of their fallen comrades from World War I - because you'll struggle to work out exactly where that is.
The road runs 241km, beginning in Torquay, Victoria and running through to Allansford, a nondescript town of about 600, two-and-a-half hours east of the South Australian border.
It is the world's largest - and longest - war memorial, packed with notable landmarks.
You don't need much imagination to consider what a job of work this must have been, involving more than 3000 returned servicemen, working with picks, shovels and horse-drawn carts.
The old sepia photos show labourers in jackets and hats slogging away with the memory of their mates from the trenches fresh in the mind. They worked on the road from 1918 until it was opened in 1932.
The Memorial Archway, 34km from the start of the road at Eastern View, was added to the Australian National Heritage list in 2011. The current archway is the third on the site. The first was destroyed by a truck in the early 1970s; the second lasted 11 years until it was reduced to charcoal by the Ash Wednesday bushfires in February 1983.
There is a plaque, unveiled seven years ago, at the archway as a tribute to "The Diggers". The bare bones may not sound much, but this journey is a must.
A couple of minutes after leaving surf-and-sand town Torquay, there is a brief to-the-point sign: Welcome to the Great Ocean Road.
Five minutes west of Torquay is the first must-do detour. For Australian surfers, Bells Beach is something akin to a trip to Lord's for cricket tragics.
This is the spiritual home of surfing. From elevated viewing platforms the view either way is splendid, and even on a murky morning around 50 surfers were on their boards. As two men in their mid-50s made their way down the narrow wooden steps to the beach, a couple of early teens sprinted up past them, boards under arms. A sport for all ages.
As the journey progressed the topography changed. In a sense the ground seemed to change in appearance from distinctly Australian to more New Zealand.
The Great Ocean Rd is packed with landmarks. Photo / Getty Images
From Torquay to Lorne, a picturesque seaside town with clear signs of civic pride about it, there's no doubting the landscape. Drop in blindfolded and you'd know you were in Oz.
However, from Lorne, heading west to Apollo Bay the feel was not dissimilar to the more impressive sections of the Kaikoura Coast. There are spectacular vantage points along the entire route but either side of Apollo Bay had some of the best.
Apollo Bay on a warm, sunny day was a pleasant lunch stop, with fine views out over the Southern Ocean, and at La Bimba, an upstairs sun trap, fine food.
A few kilometres away the Otway Fly Treetop Walk, at $25 an adult, was good value. It included what it says, a steel canopy walkway that takes visitors into the tree tops.
Up at the top, beside the twisting narrow steps up to the highest point, there's a cantilevered arm - "don't worry, it's supposed to sway" - for those with a strong disposition. Not for the faint-hearted but a heady journey.
There's a flying fox, abseiling, and an hour's walk through the cool damp of the rain forest, with 20 points of interest. This is an impressive operation.
Our first night was spent at the Great Ocean Ecolodge in the company of seven travellers, all with interesting stories to tell.
There was the Dutch couple in their 70s, clearly adventurous types; the young Englishwoman who'd spent months travelling Australia and New Zealand, returned to England, got a job and was immediately posted to ... Australia; a Perth couple walking a chunk of the Ocean Rd for charity and a young couple from Germany and Switzerland, running to raise money for Alzheimer's research.
David Leggat at a memorial to 'The Diggers'. Photo / David Leggat
The owner, Shayne Neal, had a notable claim to fame: Australia's ploughman of the year. The highly distinctive trophy sat proudly beside the reception.
The eco retreat, which was surrounded by grazing kangaroos, works towards saving endangered species. All profits are invested in wildlife conservation. When we there the animal of the moment was the tiger quoll, the largest remaining marsupial carnivore on the Australian mainland. A cousin to the long-gone Tasmanian tiger, since you asked.
Up the next day and after spotting a large group of koalas hanging off branches dangling across the road, there's time to check out the 12 Apostles rock formations by air before heading to Warrnambool for lunch. It would be hard to find a restaurant with a better ocean view than Simon's Waterfront establishment.
By this point we had passed the end of the Great Ocean Rd, Allansford being about 15 minutes east of Warrnambool. We drove around Allansford a bit, which didn't take long, thinking we must have missed it.
If a signing off is there, we didn't see it. A pity. It seemed a remarkable construction should have a start and end to celebrate.
Top tip: This road is best seen on a Melbourne-to-Adelaide journey, not the other way around. All the turnoff points to take in the sights are on the left and at some stops negotiating the entrance from the "wrong" side of the road would be a challenge, not to mention distinctly dangerous. Plus, the sun was invariably behind or out to the side of us most of the way.
Getting there: From Melbourne, head south through Geelong, about an hour's drive, and if driving straight to Torquay to start the Great Ocean Rd, it's 100km. However, for the more interesting route, take in the Bellarine Peninsula, a good wine-drinking region - allow an extra hour.
The writer travelled as a guest of Tourism Australia, the South Australia Tourism and Tourism Victoria.