If you’re planning a trip to north-eastern Victoria you can’t go past Bright, the pearl of Ovens Valley. Set against a rich backdrop of European trees and towering mountains, the small community of Bright is renowned as a haven for RVers, with a wide selection of parks and free camps nestled into the jaw-dropping scenery.
No matter how you like to relax, Bright is a town that boasts the best in all seasons and enthusiastically caters to your desires all year round.
Every year travellers enjoy a stunning canvas of colour in the autumn months, making the drive to and around the region an experience in itself. For those that relish the bracing climate in colder months, this is an ideal contender for your winter trip-planning. Bright is a perfect base camp for the surrounding area, with three snowy hot-spots within easy reach. Mount Buffalo is just a short 45 minute drive while Falls Creek and Mt. Hotham can be reached in about an hour and a quarter.
In the warmer months Bright explodes into a riot of colour and energy. Some of the best bushwalks and hikes sit right at the door of your RV in Buffalo and Alpine National Parks, while local waters like Lake Buffalo or the Kiewa and Ovens rivers teem with fish just waiting to test the enthusiastic angler.
Whatever it is you are looking for on your adventure, Bright and its surrounding villages of Porepunkah, Wandiligong and Harrietville are guaranteed to supply you with unforgettable memories.
BUSH WALKS AND HIKES
Surrounded by stunning natural vistas, Bright offers some of the best bush and mountain trails in Australia, catering for walkers of all experience levels. More seasoned hikers will delight in an excursion to the high country – once at the top, you can stand like the King of the World and survey the spread of country below while you savour the fresh mountain air. If the atmosphere up there is a bit rare for your tastes, there are other options a bit closer to sea level: explore the trails that follow the nearby rivers and wind through valleys and national parks.
If you’re not quite sure where to start looking for the bush-walk that’s just right for you, we recommend having a chat with the friendly staff at the local information centre. Please keep in mind; these tracks are combination of gravel and forestry roads, and conditions can change after severe weather.
THREE TOP TRAILS:
Possibly Bright’s most popular walk, Canyon stretches 3.5km and will take you about an hour and a half. Pass through the small canyon carved out by Ovens River and appreciate water races still present that were created by miners during the gold rush. In the spring, birdlife and wildflowers abound.
This 3km circuit-style walk starts at Quinn’s Gap and will take you roughly 2 hours. Wander through eucalypt forests of peppermints and box (keeping an eye open for wombats and wallabies) and enjoy views of Mt Feathertop and Mt Bogong.
This tranquil, easy 2.5km walk along Morses Creek between the caravan park and Dougherty Bridge should take you just over an hour and a half. Take a look a classic mining battery and forge that operated as recently as 1994 – a thoroughly enjoyable historical walk.
Bright is a region where native plants and animals flourish. No further than 350m from the town centre you can find platypuses, fish, yabbies and amphibians in their natural ecosystem. You don’t have to spend much time in this area before you understand why Bright’s two National Parks are so widely appreciated in Victoria.
The rich botanical diversity and thriving populations of native mammals, reptiles and birds in these parks make them irresistible for any that appreciate truly magnificent Australian flora and fauna.
MOUNT BUFFALO NATIONAL PARK
This National Park is a must for any outdoor enthusiast. A canvas of magnificent natural contrasts, the trails of Mount Buffalo National Park take you through an odyssey of unforgettable sights, scents and sounds. From the depths of its Gorge, across its highest tree tops and down to its lower slopes, you’ll find yourself marvelling at just how compelling nature can be.
One of Australia’s oldest National Parks, it is referred to by some as the town’s ‘all-seasons playground’. Although nature walks are terrific, variety is the spice of life! So try your hand at some other affordable outdoor activities on offer. Explore the bike tracks, or try a swim in one of the pristine water holes. Set off down the waterways in a kayak, taking a picnic lunch with you. If you didn’t bring kayaks or bikes with you, outdoor gear hire is readily available in town. During winter, the park’s gentle undulating landscape provides easy access to safe fun in the snow for all.
Toilets and first-aid facilities are available and best of all; entry to the park is free!
ALPINE NATIONAL PARK
One might say that Alpine National Park’s most definitive feature is its sheer size. Not only is it Victoria’s largest national park, but you’ll also find 10 of the state’s 11 highest mountains within its borders. However, don’t let the magnitude imply any shortcoming in quality; Alpine is a park of contrasts. You will find herb fields, snowy gum woodlands and a vibrant array of rare wildflowers and native wildlife. The park is home to over 1100 native plant species, including the Bogong Daisy Bush and Silky Daisy; and you can’t find these anywhere else in the world! In the summer, you just have to see the park’s wildflower walks for yourself. Following the park’s alpine trails will take you to some spectacular vantage points where you can take photos of Mt Buffalo, Mt Feathertop, the Bogong High Plains and Kiewa Valley.
Thanks to a combination of Bright’s cool climate and its fertile soil, several award-winning vineyards call this region home. If you consider yourself a bit of a wine connoisseur, you’ll have to treat your palate to some of the local flavours. Several wineries also provide impressive dining menus, offering delicious meals prepared from fresh, locally sourced produce.
6619 Great Alpine Road, Porepunkah
P: (03) 5756 2356
RINGER REEF WINERY
6835 Great Alpine Road, Porepunkah
P: (03) 5756 2805
A discerning taste in fine wine is an admirable trait, but many still prefer the art of brewing the perfect beer; and if that sounds like you, you’re in luck! Originally founded during the Gold Rush in 1876, the Bright Brewery produced award winning ale, porter and fruit cordials until its closure in 1916. Thankfully, almost 90 years later, the Brewery has been reinvigorated by Scott and Fiona, and continues the proud tradition of producing only the finest craft beer.
Staple house offerings include amber and pale ales, lagers and porters as well as wheat and abbey-style beers; there’s a delicious drop for every taste. If you consider aromatic hops, rich blends of malt and artisan craft to be hallmarks of an ideal beer, the Bright Brewery should be near the top of your list of places to visit. The Brewery even has a restaurant on site offering a scrumptious and very affordable variety of snacks and mains – what more could you ask for?
A MARKET AFFAIR
Rural Victoria hosts some of the finest markets in Australia and you’ll find that the highlands are no exception. Plan your trip to include the third Saturday of the month and you’ll be able to visit Bright Markets. As soon as you set foot in the markets you’ll be enveloped by a warm, buzzing atmosphere. Everyone comes here to see the best of Bright on show – and in most cases, on sale. Organic fruit, nuts, dairy and vegies are plentiful, so this will be the perfect opportunity to stock up on fresh food reserves before you hit the road again! Other local produce that will catch your eyes (and tempt your tastebuds) includes freshly-baked goods, pastas, oils and local meats.
Browse the craft stalls and you’ll find plenty to choose from as a keepsake of your time in the highlands, or as a gift for some lucky person. Local artists, wood-workers, jewellers and crafters of all sorts proudly showcase their wares at the market.
DID YOU KNOW?
Bright has its roots deeply entrenched in mining and the great Aussie gold rush of the mid-1800s. Those interested in learning more about Bright’s rich cultural and historical significance should stop by the Bright Museum or the Gold Museum. You might decide do a bit of fossicking yourself.
Bright is a bird-watchers dream. The vibrant natural surrounds here are home to wide variety of native Australian birds. You might spot king parrots, satin bowerbirds, crimson rosellas, wrens or even the iconic lyrebird.
DID YOU KNOW?
Bright is a fly-fisherman’s paradise: its rivers and creeks are teeming with delicious trout and even the odd Murray cod! Cast in a line at these three local hotspots:
- Ovens Rivers: Great streams between Bright and Mansfield for carp, blackfish, Murray cod, redfin and rainbow/ brown trout.
- Buckland River: Terrific spot for fly-fishing later in the year, but less so in the summer months.
- Kiewa River: Arguably your first choice for trout fishing at the base of Mount Beauty.
POREPUNKAH PINES HOLIDAY PARK
7065 Great Alpine Road, Porepunkah
P: (03) 5756 2282
BRIGHT PINE VALLEY TOURIST PARK
7-15 Churchill Avenue, Bright
P: (03) 5755 1010
BRIGHT RIVERSIDE HOLIDAY PARK
4-10 Toorak Avenue, Bright
P: (03) 5755 1118
RIVERVIEW CARAVAN PARK
18 Junction Road, Porepunkah
P: (03) 5756 2290
LAKE CATANI CAMPGROUND MT BUFFALO NATIONAL PARK
Camp area 28km west of Porepunkah
GPS: 36 44 07 S 146 48 43 E
P: 13 19 63
AH YOUNGS CAMPING AREA
Toilets, showers, disabled access, running water, fire pits, nominal fee, mobile reception, no pets, big rigs
Camp area 18km south of Porepunkah beside river; exercise caution: dirt road.
GPS: 36 50 27 S 146 51 40 E
P: 13 61 86
Toilets, shade, BBQ, pets allowed, dirt road, big rigs
SMOKO CAMPING AREA
Camp area 16km south of Bright. turn off Great Alpine Road and follow for 700m before making a right to the river-front camp site.
GPS: 36 49 33 S 147 04 35 E
P: 13 61 86
Toilets, water, shade, picnic tables, fire pits, mobile reception, pets allowed, river access, big rigs
Camp area 7km south of Bright, turn onto old Harriet Road and follow on to camp sites on west side of the bridge; no camping on the eastern bank picnic area.
GPS: 36 45 26 S 147 01 23 E
Shade, mobile reception, pets allowed, dirt road, big rigs, river
BRIGHT ART GALLERY
28 Mountbatten Ave
P: (03) 5750 1660
BRIGHT GOLD AND TOBACCO MUSEUM
Great Alpine Road, Bright
P: 0408 392 919
THE BRIGHT MUSEUM
Old Bright Railway Station
(03) 5755 1009
GRAB A BITE
5 Ireland Street
P: (03) 5755 1428
WANDILIGONG MAZE AND CAFE
11 White Star Road, Wandiligong
P: (03) 5750 1311
(Note: Closed each August.)
RED STAG RESTAURANT
324 Hughes Lane, Eurobin
P: (03) 5756 2365
ALPINE VISITOR INFORMATION CENTRE
119 Gavan Street, Bright
P: 1800 111 885
BRIGHT VISITORS CENTRE
76A Gavan Street, Bright
P: (03) 5755 2275
HOW TO GET THERE
Bright remains a relatively isolated Victorian township, and while the trip might take a considerable portion out of your day if you’re travelling from capital Melbourne or neighbouring Sydney and Canberra, the roads are smooth and once you hit those highlands the drive will hardly seem a chore. From Melbourne it’s as simple as taking the Hume Freeway, following onto Great Alpine Road and exiting off on Bakers Gully Road which leads into Bright. You’re looking at a distance of 327km and with caravan in tow you’re looking at a drive between 4 and 5 hours.