Experience the Victorian High Country at its most colourful.
With a festival devoted to celebrating the colours of autumn, now is a delightful time to visit the picturesque High Country town of Bright. Around a three and a half hour drive from Melbourne, Bright is flanked by the Victorian Alps and their looming mountaintops provide some of its most spectacular scenery. The town’s settler history has seen sweeping avenues of European trees planted along its streets, making it a prized spot for viewing the crimsons, gold and burnt oranges of autumn.
With a rich gold rush history, Bright has undergone many transformations and for a time was connected by rail to the surrounding towns of Beechworth and Myrtleford. Closed in the 1980s, the train line has since been replaced with the Murray to the Mountains rail trail that offers over 100 km of sealed off road trails for cyclists to explore. Linking up the northeastern Victorian towns of Wangaratta, Beechworth, Rutherglen and Bright, the trail meanders through native bushland, farmland and impressive mountain ranges.
Mt Buffalo National Park and the Alpine National Park are short drives from Bright and offer cool mountain air and panoramas over the Ovens Valley. Take a drive and spend the day soaking up the endless views. Those seeking a hiking adventure can choose from over 90 km of walking trails through the Mt Buffalo National Park or pick a day or overnight hike through the Alpine National Park. Preparation and planning is important for these and the Parks Victoria website is an excellent starting point.
Further afield, the neighbouring towns of Porepunkah, Harrietville and Wandiligong provide oodles of country charm and family friendly activities. Keen fishing fans can enjoy a spot of trout fishing at the junction of the Buckland and Ovens rivers in Porepunkah while the largest living hedge maze in Australia is just a stone’s throw away in Wandiligong.
The region’s temperate climate and rich soils have led to an abundance of quality produce grown in the surrounding valleys. The Bright farmers’ market runs on the third Saturday of every month and offers freshly baked breads, fruits and veggies, locally made cheeses, trout and meats. The Rotary Club of Bright runs additional markets throughout the year, including their Autumn Festival Market on Saturday 3 May 2014. Award-winning wineries and breweries welcome visitors for tastings and many offer delicious lunch menus where homegrown produce is the star.
A variety of accommodation options suit every budget, from luxury B&Bs to caravan parks and camping grounds. Whether you’re staying in town or a short drive away in nearby properties, there are plenty of spots offering a restful sleep and a hearty country breakfast.
This year’s autumn festival runs from 25 April to 4 May and visitors will see Bright at its best. If you’re thinking of heading down, try and make the Gala Weekend (3 and 4 May) when a bustling market, local music and parade fill the town. Celebrating the season along with the abundance of produce of the High Country valleys, it beckons for a weekend of relaxing, back-to-nature experiences.
For more information on the Bright Autumn Festival visit brightautumnfestival.org.au