The Great Ocean Road has a modest name, but that's where the modesty ends. Blasted from sandstone by returning soldiers after World War I, this winding 151-mile stretch has a spectacular collection of cliff vistas, rainforest crossings and landscapes full of wildlife. The word 'great' doesn't really do it justice. However, it does have another name that surely fits its grandeur: Australia's Best Road Trip.

So what makes the Great Ocean Road the best journey on the entire continent? Here are just a few reasons.

Melbourne, Yarra River, Victoria
Melbourne, Victoria

1. It starts with a world-class city

Most visitors to the Great Ocean Road will begin their adventure in Australia's greatest city (we may be biased). Melbourne is the logical jumping-off point for most Victorian road trips, and it's only an hour and a half from Torquay – the official start of the Great Ocean Road. Soak up the city atmosphere with a strong coffee and gourmet brunch, then hit the road.

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2. Australia's wildlife outside your door

The Great Ocean Road winds its way through sparsely populated areas of the Victorian coast – sparsely populated by humans, that is. As for wildlife, kangaroos, koalas, wombats, southern right whales and even platypus (if you know where to look) can all be seen on trip along the Great Ocean Road. Please do keep an eye out for native critters as you're driving – Australian animals have been known to cross the road at unfortunate moments. Just one more reason to take the trip slowly.

Great Ocean Road, Wildlife, Victoria
Koala, Great Ocean Road
Great Ocean Road, Mait's Rest, Victoria
Mait's Rest, Great Ocean Road

3. It's full of surprises

Good surprises! One of the many joys you'll discover along the Great Ocean Road is the opportunity to improvise. Take Mait's Rest, for example, an outstanding and secluded walkway through the ancient rainforests of the Great Otway National Park. You'll spot 300 year-old trees and, if you're very lucky, a few of the resident koalas. Little side-journeys like Mait’s Rest are essential parts of the Great Ocean Road experience. The road is full of unexpected places to pull into and lost pathways to explore.

4. The 12 Apostles

While construction of the Great Ocean Road took 13 years to complete, its greatest attraction is still a work in progress. The 12 Apostles continue to be sculpted and carved by winds and waves and stand as one of the great wonders of Australia. This Unesco World Heritage site is a favourite spot for visitors and never disappoints with its size and splendour.

Great Ocean Road, 12 Apostles, Victoria
12 Apostles, Great Ocean Road
Great Ocean Road, Beacon Point, Victoria
Beacon Point Restaurant, Great Ocean Road

5. Dinner with a side of spectacular

For a room with one of the greatest views in the world, a stop at Chris’s Beacon Point at Skenes Creek is a must. There are few better spots for an incredible dinner overlooking the ocean. What pairs best with Tasmanian ocean trout gravlax and a spicy local shiraz? Panoramic Bass Strait vistas, that's what. And there's no need to navigate the coastal road after dark (or perhaps a wine or two) – stay overnight at one of Chris's villas and wake to the sight of the sea through floor-to-ceiling windows.

6. It's more than a road

The Great Ocean Road was built by 3000 Australian soldiers and sailors who returned home from fighting in World War I and immediately went to work on constructing a memorial to their fellow servicemen and women. These veterans-turned-workers had to blast through rock and clear hundreds of miles of land just to make the road possible. Now, the Great Ocean Road stands as the world’s longest war memorial.

Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia
Aerial view, Great Ocean Road
Great Ocean Road, Bells Beach, Victoria
Bells Beach, Great Ocean Road

7. The world's most famous surf beach

The Great Ocean Road begins just outside one of the world’s most iconic surfing spots, Bells Beach, Torquay. Home to the Rip Curl Pro surfing competition, this famous beach is the ideal location to see the power of Victoria’s shoreline (waves can reach 6 metres high) and local surfers riding the iconic point break. It’s the perfect place, a spot where nature and people meet, and captures the essence of the Great Ocean Road. Not bad for the first mile.