If you like small town charm, alpine mountain scenery, cosy cafes serving delicious food, wineries and craft beer, and activities like cycling and hiking then put Bright in country Victoria on your Aussie bucket list. Beautiful Bright, just three hours from Melbourne, makes for a great weekend getaway or a longer stay. Travel expert, Craig Makepeace, gives us 8 things for your “to do” list:
The Rail Trail
Part of the 94km Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail (cycle way) runs through Bright and jumping on your bike is one of the best ways to explore the countryside in and around town. The bitumen sealed track links the townships of Wangaratta, Beechworth, Myrtleford, Porepunkah and Bright. From Bright I recommend the 6km track to Porepunkah for lunch at the Rail Trail Cafe (some of the best Mexican food in Australia). Or go a little further to Feathertop Winery (10km one way trip from Bright.)
If you’re like me and enjoy a craft beer or two, then don’t miss the Bright Brewery for a pint, my fave being the Blowhard Pale Ale. They also brew possibly the nicest cider in Australia. Got kids? You and they will appreciate their beer garden overlooking the main kids playground in town keeping them happy whilst you enjoy a few bevvy’s. Oh, and for a bite to eat check out their delicious pizzas!
Swim in the Ovens River
Bright gets HOT in the summer and everyone heads to the Ovens River to cool off. It’s dammed up in the main part of town to create a deep swimming hole complete with springboards, slides, and a water slide making it a fun place to hang out during those hot alpine summer days. Grab a picnic and set up on the grass.
The Make. Bake. Grow Markets
Every 3rd Saturday of the month alongside the Ovens River the Make. Bake. Grow Markets are held. Besides the typical market fare, if you’re a foodie or wine buff you’ll enjoy these markets. And your kids will love the array of activities including face painting, craft activities, balloon animals or even the egg and spoon race.
Eat your way through Bright
I love the cafe and restaurant scene in Bright. For a small town there’s an array of choices and luckily for us many of them family friendly. Start with this list:
Blackbird Café – Great food & coffee. Comfy couches. Children’s play section. Free Wi-Fi.
Food Wine Friends - Lovely small cafe and providore. Food is fresh and made from local produce and the coffee excellent.
Riverdeck Café - Pleasant spot to sit with a cuppa in the sun overlooking the Ovens River and playground.
Coral Lee – Vegetarian & vegan. Quirky and cozy cafe. Some of the best coffee in Bright.
Ginger Baker - Lovely outside eating area, overlooking the Ovens River.
Who said wineries aren’t for kids? Not only does Feathertop Winery have impressive food and wine, a lovely outdoor seating area with killer views, but also a playground for kids. Located 10km from Bright, just past Porepunkah, you can either cycle there via the Rail Trail or bring a designated driver.
A short 40 minute drive from Bright is Mt Buffalo. Head to the top for 360 degree views of the plateau and Australian Alps. Perfect in the summer time as it’s usually cooler than down in the valley. Go kayaking at Lake Catani, enjoy a picnic at The Horn (highest point of Mt Buffalo) and stop at Ladies Baths for a dip in the refreshingly clear waters.
Beechworth is another great little town just a 45 minute drive from Bright, famous for its Ned Kelly history and the legendary Beechworth Bakery (be prepared to line up out the door for their pies). But my favourite place in Beechworth is the Bridge Road Brewery – great range of craft beers and to die for pizzas!.