The town of Bright in Victoria checks off most of our criteria for making a place liveable. Except it’s a little too far from a major city (3 hours drive). I can’t shake Craig off this point to consider it as a place to eventually live.
I LOVE beautiful Bright. Kalyra is also a major fan and has emphatically declared that she will live there one day for 10 years. I hope she invites her Mamma to visit often.
Thanks so much to our beautiful friend Kim who lives in Bright and who runs the 356 things to do in Bright website who invited us to visit Bright back in 2012 for her Bright Delight social media campaign. We fell in love and were determined to return for a longer stay.
Again, Kim invited us back, but this time to house sit for her over Christmas while she went away. How could we say no?
Two weeks over Christmas in Bright in a lovely home with a magical view of Mount Hotham and kangaroos visiting of an evening and early morning. Who wouldn’t want that, right?
It was sublime and one of the most serene, enjoyable Christmases I’ve had in a very long time.
We cannot rate Bright highly enough, having made our 2013 Top 5 highlights post.
Things to do in Bright
The Rail Trail
Our favourite way to get into town from Kim’s place was along an overhanging, tree-lined section of the 94km Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail (cycle way).
The bitumen sealed track is well suited to both cycling and walking and links the townships of Wangaratta, Beechworth, Myrtleford, Porepunkah and Bright.
We also cycled the 6km track to Porepunkah to have lunch at the Rail Trail Cafe, which is where you’ll find some of the best Mexican food in Australia – for real. We recommend going a little further if you can to Feathertop Winery (10km one way trip from Bright.)
You know that rail trail into town? It took us right to the Bright Brewery and a pint of some of the nicest cider you’ll ever try. They also have pretty good beer.
And get this parents of small children – the beer garden looks straight out over the kids playground. Perfect for parents and kids. Craig and I enjoyed a rare moment of time out and adult conversation. No wonder we became frequent visitors.
Ovens River swim
During the summer, the Ovens River is dammed up in the main part of town to create a deep swimming hole area.
There are springboards, slides, and water slides into the river making it fun and refreshing for those hot alpine summer days. It’s also a great place for a picnic.
The Make. Bake. Grow markets are held every 3rd Saturday alongside the river.
Right beside the Ovens River, the before mentioned playground is one of the best we’ve come across and is part of the reason Kalyra would like to live in Bright for 10 years. We visited daily.
Places to Eat in Bright
Bright is the place to cafe and restaurant hop. There is an amazing number of choices and so many of them are family friendly.
Here are a few of our fave places to eat in Bright:
Free Wi-Fi, children’s play section, comfy couches and great food and coffee. This quickly became our local.
(Tell me that you don’t spend the rest of the day singing The Beatles song: Blackbird singing in the dead of night!)
A quirky and cozy cafe. Said to have some of the best coffee in Bright. Our pick is the the pesto toast for breakfast.
Food Wine Friends
We love this small cafe and providore. The food is fresh and made from local produce and the coffee is excellent.
Treat yourself with a gourmet picnic hamper to take up to Mt Buffalo. We loved what Luke prepared for us and I loved not having a hand in the making and gathering of it. For time strapped parents like us it’s such a great idea.
Want to hear a funny, ghostly tale about Food Wine Friends? Click here
A pleasant spot to sit with a cuppa in the sun is the Riverdeck cafe overlooking the Ovens River and play area.
Ginger Baker has a lovely outside eating area, overlooking the Ovens River. There is plenty of space here for the kids to feel comfortable.
Day trips from Bright
WE recommend staying in Bright and using it as a base to explore the beauty of the surrounding High Country.
There is so much to see and do in this area, and I recommend it as a fantastic alternative to the traditional Australian beach summer holiday.
Only a short 40 minute drive from Bright is Mt Buffalo, a beautiful place to explore for the day. It’s perfect in the summer as it’s usually much cooler than down in the valley.
We spent the morning kayaking at Lake Catani, and enjoying a picnic at The Horn, the highest point of Mt Buffalo. You can walk up the top for 360 degree views of the plateau and Australian Alps. On the way back down stop at Ladies Baths for a dip in the refreshingly clear waters.
Our divine picnic was supplied by Food Wine Friends and kayak trip was with Adventure Guides Australia.
Dinner Plain is about a 10 minute drive from Mt Hotham, right at the peak. It’s a relatively new town and is a fantastic alternative to the Mt Hotham ski town, especially in the summer.
There are plenty of walking trails—don’t forget your picnic lunch to enjoy the views with. The drive itself is stunning.
It’s popular to cycle from the Valley floor up to Mt Hotham. I’d much rather the gentler trails around the Dinner Plain area. Plenty of great views and opportunity for exercise.
N.B. When we visited Dinner Plain the flies up there were horrendous, so pack your repellent.
Beechworth has legendary status for its Ned Kelly history and bakery. Only in Australia can bakeries have such a cult following—the queue resembled that of an Offspring mosh pit.
As Craig and I shared recently, I reckon the town’s best feature is the Bridge Road Brewers.
There is plenty of history, nature and boutique shopping in the area too.
Feathertop Winery is located 10km from Bright, just past Porepunkah.
You can make your entrance to Feathertop an experience in itself by cycling the stunning Rail Trail from Bright. We didn’t feel Kalyra would cope with the 10km one way cycle, so we drove. Since I love wine more than Craig he nominated himself as the DD.
Berry picking – Mt Stanley
Just up the road from Beechworth at Mt Stanley is one of the best berry picking experiences you’ll ever have. We had so much fun running from rows of blueberries, boysenberries, raspberries and berries we’d never heard of like Loganberries.
The best thing about this farm is that for $2 you can eat all you like while you pick. The girls learned how to find and pick a ripe berry and how to taste one like a connoisseur of wine, we shared our thoughts on each one and whether it was worthy to make the bucket.
Only blueberries, boysenberries and raspberries made ours. These berries are also super cheap to buy.
HOT TIP for visiting Bright
Avoid visiting Bright for the weeks after Christmas if you can. The town population swells from 2,000 to near 20,000. Yep, told you it was good. The weeks leading up to Christmas are just divine.
Getting to Bright, Victoria
Bright is approximately a 3 hour drive from Melbourne. Head north east up the M31 towards Wangaratta then turn off and take the B500.
More posts about Bright:
- Bright, Victoria – a Beautiful Alpine Town
- Seeing Ghosts in the Bathroom at Food Wine Friends Cafe, Bright
- Who Said Wineries Aren’t for Children? Introducing Feathertop Winery in Bright, Victoria