The startlingly attractive town of Bright lies at the foothill of the Victorian Alps and can offer visitors a completely different experience, depending on the season.
In winter, three major snow resorts – Mt. Buffalo, Falls Creek and Mt. Hotham – can be easily accessed; in spring, the town comes alive with colour as gardens bloom and flowers dazzle; in summer, long days lazy days picnicking at the Ovens River beckon; and in autumn … well this could well be the most beautiful array of colours anywhere in Australia. The avenues of magnificent oaks, elms, poplars and Japanese maples that were planted way back in the 1930s paint the town red, orange, gold and yellow. It’s a sight not to be missed.
Bright is situated on the Great Alpine Road about three-and-a-half hours drive from Melbourne. The town itself really came into being when gold was discovered in the surrounding hills and valleys in the mid 1800s. For those who like to try their hand at a bit of treasure hunting, you can still pan the rivers here. Bright is a busy, interesting town with plenty of markets, wineries, art galleries and shops. Being a major tourist destination, it also hosts numerous festivals and it’s worth trying to time your stay with the celebrated Spring Festival held in October/November, or the Autumn Festival held in early May.
Bright and surrounds are first and foremost a natural wonderland. There are some excellent walks to take, the most popular of these is the Canyon Walk that takes you past a small canyon carved by the Ovens River. Further afield, the area’s mountains, rivers and national parks will have you reaching for the fishing rod, bushwalking boots, binoculars and camera … and you’ll be itching to get out there amongst it all.
Here, in the eucalypt forest at the foothills of the Victorian Alps you can spy king parrots, crimsons rosellas, satin bowerbirds, pied currawongs, scarlet robins and blue wrens. A large proportion of this wonderful wildlife can be found at Mt Buffalo National Park, just east of Bright. It’s one of Australia’s oldest parks and is famed for the spectacular boulders of the Mount Buffalo Plateau. It is also renowned for its more than 80 kilometres of marked walking trails which, in the right season, wend their way past cascading streams and tumbling waterfalls.
Visit Wandiligong an old gold mining hamlet and walk around the diggings; enjoy the magnificent autumn colours; take a bushwalk in Mount Buffalo National park; check out some of the amazing native wildlife; enjoy the welcoming village ambience and craft shops of Bright itself.
There are numerous great locations to stay while in Bright. The Alpine National Park – for all sorts of chilly reasons – is not really suitable for camping during winter but, in the other seasons, there are a number of designated camping areas that offer the use of toilets, picnic tables and fireplaces. In Mount Buffalo National park, there’s a fantastic campground set amongst the park’s snow gum woodland at Lake Catani. It’s only open from the beginning of November until the end of April and you’ll need to book during peak times. There are 50 or so unpowered sites available. Of course, as well as national park camping, there are numerous commercial camping/caravan parks in the Bright area.