- Hike through the Mt Buffalo National Park for amazing views of the Victorian High Country
- Eat and drink your way through farm produce in Bright and its surrounds
- Cycle along the old Murray to Mountains Rail Trail for stunning valley views
- Cool off on a hot day in the Ovens River which runs through Bright
Bright is the perfect base to explore the surrounding areas of Ovens Valley, Mt Buffalo National Park and the Victorian Alps. We visited Bright over an Easter long weekend and absolutely loved it!! Our days went something like this: hiking in the morning, wine and cheese in the afternoon, all capped off by a delicious feed at one of the local restaurants for dinner, but more on the things to do in Bright later.
Bright is the gateway to the Victorian ski fields but comes into its own in the warmer months. Autumn in Bright is absolutely stunning with the trees changing colour - we were probably a month too early as we were there in late March - but from mid to late April you will be mesmerised by the array of yellows, oranges and reds. Book in early though as Bright does throw an Autumn festival in late April and so would be expected to book up quite quickly over that period. As an aside, Bright is only 3 and a half hours from Melbourne and is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway (or a relaxing week away from the hustle and bustle of city life).
Things to do in Bright
1. Mount Buffalo
The top of Mount Buffalo is only 35 kilometres from Bright and is a relatively easy and beautiful drive up through the Victorian Alpines. There are over 90 kilometres of hiking trails through the national park which showcase Mt Buffalo's beautiful flora and granite rock formations.
The following are our two favourite short hikes in the National Park:
The Cathedral and Hump Track (2.5 km)
This hike starts from the Cathedral Picnic area located on the road that leads up to the top of Mount Buffalo. The hike takes you up past the impressive Cathedral; a mass of large granite boulders standing 20 metres above the track. The hike eventually takes you up to the summit of the Hump which gives you terrific views of the Cresta Valley and the top of Mt Buffalo (The Horn). This is an excellent spot to sit and watch the sunset - just bring a jumper in any season as it is usually ten degrees cooler than down in the valley.
The hike is relatively easy and anyone with a moderate level of fitness should be able to conquer it.
The Horn (1.5 km)
The Horn is the top of Mt Buffalo (1,723 metres above sea level) and rewards you with 360 degree views of the entire Mt Buffalo National Park and the rest of the Victorian Alps. The hiking track is heavily constructed (i.e. boards and pavings) than the cathedral hike, which does reduce its appeal somewhat, but the views from the top are spectacular and make up for it slightly. We stepped off the track to get out the way of everyone and absolutely loved the peace and quiet and the views.
The hike starts from the Horn Carpark right at the end of the Mt Buffalo road. Again, the hike is relatively simple and we saw people of all ages and fitness levels making the trek to the top.
2. "Pedal to Produce"
A foodies dream! Hire some bikes in Bright and cycle down the beautiful country roads to various farm gates to pick fresh produce, taste incredible cheeses and try up and coming wines. From fresh olives, nuts, berries, apples, honey, chestnuts, grapes, cheeses and chutneys there is sure to be something for everyone. Don't forget to make sure you bring a bag big enough to carry it all away with you!
We went chestnut picking in a beautiful little farm in Wandiligong called Wandiful Produce. Wandiligong is located only 6 kilometres south of Bright and is worth a visit purely for the beautiful drive between the two towns. Wandiful Produce is a walnut, hazelnut and chestnut farm which offers people a chance to pick their own nuts (with no obligation to buy them) - they also have an old barn / farm shed that has been turned into a cake and coffee stop. A nice place to visit for morning tea.
3. Cycling the Murray-to-Mountains Rail Trail
While there are many 'pedal to produce' type trails there are also many very popular cycling trails that are great fun for the experienced cyclist, nature lovers, and families alike. The cycle tracks follow beautiful rivers, orchards and vineyards.
The rail trail is a great way to discover the diverse landscape around Bright and North East Victoria. There are over 100 kilometres of trail that follow the old Murray-to-Mountains railway. These trailas are generally paved and well away from any cars - and, surprisingly, mostly flat! The Murray to Mountains Rail Trail begins in Wangaratta but can be started anywhere from Mytrleford, Bright, Beechworth or Milawa.
Wine produce in the Victorian High Country is an up and coming region for wine in Australia and their cellar doors are great spots to stop for lunch and a few tastings. We would recommend Feathertop Winery which is only 8 kilometres west of Bright in a town called Porepunkah. It has a cellar door and dinning room set amongst the vines. We didn't eat here but heard it was great, fresh food (albeit a bit pricey).
5. Swim in the Ovens River
The Ovens River winds it way through its namesakes valley right through Bright and is a perfect spot for a splash in the heat of summer. The Ovens River is dammed in both Bright and Porepunkah which create nice pools for swimming. In summer they even have a lifeguard on duty as well in the afternoon at both these pools.
There are plenty of natural pools and swimming spots all down the river - so if you want to get away from the crowds go for a short hike along the river and find a nice quiet spot to relax at! A great picnic option too.
6. Explore Bright by hiking the Canyon Trail
Starting in Bright the 4 kilometre (about 1 hour) return hike takes you along the Ovens River and provides you with beautiful views of the valley (canyon) which the river has carved out as it flows down from Mt Hotham and Falls Creek. A nice relaxing hike that is suitable for all ages.
7. Mt Beauty
Our early morning drive from Bright to Mt Beauty was one of our highlights of the Victorian High Country as it gave stunning views of Mt Bogong (the tallest mountain in Victoria) and, obviously, Mt Beauty. Mt Beauty was a very cute little town and well worth a visit or stay as a base for some hiking.
Eating + drinking
1. Thirteen Steps
We had dinner here on our first night (after driving 10 hours from Adelaide) and absolutely loved it. The restaurant is located (unsurprisingly) 13 steps down into an old cellar/basement and has a beautiful setting with hundreds of old wine bottles around the walls. A lovely fine dining experience - we shared two entrees and a main which were all well prepared and certainly very fresh. The food, like many restaurants in and around Bright, is sourced from local producers to showcase what the region has to offer. Definitely our favourite place for dinner in Bright. P.s. the halloumi was amazing!
2. Ginger Baker
Ginger Baker is situated just across from the Ovens River in the centre of Bright, and so it is surrounded by beautiful views of the rolling hills and natural park surrounds. This is the perfect spot for breakfast or lunch with excellent coffee and fresh food!
Where to stay?
There is a great variety of choices of accommodation in Bright including inexpensive motels and caravan parks to cosy B&B's and luxurious guest houses. For families there are many holiday houses that are able to be rented and an ever-growing list of places on AirBnB.
Buffalo Motel & Country Retreat
We stayed at the Buffalo Motel & Country Retreat in Porepunkah just a few kilometres from Bright and at the base of the Mt Buffalo National Park. The rooms were cosy and nice without being anything special but it was relatively cheap and we would recommend it for low budget accommodation for a couple. For big groups there would be much better options out there.
Click here for more information or to make a booking.