24 Brilliant Things to Do in Bright

August 18, 2023
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24 Brilliant Things to Do in Bright

August 18, 2023
High Country
By Dave Dean
We may earn a commission from purchases you make after clicking links on this site.

Ah, beautiful Bright. We absolutely love this little town in the Victorian High Country, visiting it every chance we get. The clean, fresh air, endless outdoor activities, and impressive range of high-quality dining and drinking options make it a very firm favourite around here.

You can do everything from hiking to mountain biking and paragliding within a few minutes of the main street, ski in the nearby mountains, or take an easy off-road rail trail north for nearly 100km if you fancy a bit of cycle touring.

If you’re not feeling quite so energetic, never fear: wineries, craft breweries, and distilleries are all right in the heart of town, along with boutique shopping and some fantastic restaurants, including one of the best plant-based cafes I’ve been to anywhere in the country.

Travelling with little members of the family? There are loads of things to do in Bright with the kids, from mini golf and tubing on the river to a free splash park that’s very easy to find in summer: just follow the squeals!

Festivals, markets, and exhibitions pull visitors in throughout the year, and the town gets very busy during holidays and most weekends in summer and winter. Visit during off-season, however, especially mid-week, and you’ll have a much quieter and more relaxed experience. Wander the quiet streets, walk or cycle one of the many nearby trails, and appreciate everything this wonderful alpine town has to offer.

Here’s our current pick of the best things to do in Bright, whether you’re there for a day, weekend, or much longer. If you don’t get everything crossed off on this trip, don’t worry about it: there’s a very high chance you’ll be back before long!

Visit the Bright Brewery for Some Great Craft Beer

People sitting eating and drinking at outdoor tables on wooden and concrete decking outside a brewpub, with trees in the background
My favourite spot for a beer in Bright, no question

It’s pretty much impossible to miss the Bright Brewery. The large building and outdoor space sits right in the heart of town, beside the river and on the Great Alpine Road. If you didn’t drive past it on your way into Bright, you’ll invariably end up passing it on foot at some point soon after.

I’ve been here more times than I care to remember, whether it’s for delicious pizza or burgers to refuel at the end of a long day’s exploring, or just enjoying a lazy afternoon in the sunshine drinking one of the brewery’s signature ales.

There’s no shortage of those available, with around a dozen seasonal beers at any point, and eight year-round options. There are always a few sours available (I particularly liked the yuzu variant last time I was there), plus anything from IPAs and wheat beers to porters and dessert stouts.

If you’re not sure what you’d prefer, or are just looking to try some interesting beers that you haven’t come across before, grab one of the tasting paddles. If you (or someone you’re with) aren’t so into beer, that’s not a problem either: there’s a full range of wines, spirits, cider, and more at the bar.

Whenever the weather’s nice, I always try to grab a table outside: it’s just a lovely place to spend an hour or two (or three, or many). Despite there being plenty of space, though, the place does fill up, especially on weekend evenings: book a table in advance if you have a particular time in mind.

Grab Brunch at Wild Thyme Cafe

Bowl of nachos with plant-based ingredients and a vibrant crimson sauce on a wooden table.
Is this, or is this not, the most colourful plate of nachos you’ve ever seen?

While the brewery is my regular must-visit place on a lazy summer evening, Wild Thyme Cafe is where you’ll find me earlier in the day. I visit this place for brunch every time I visit Bright, often several times during my stay, because it’s just. that. good.

The place used to be called What You Eat Cafe when I first started going there, but not a lot has changed about it except the name since then: it just keeps serving up delicious vegan and vegetarian meals in a chilled-out space, day after day.

If I’m there closer to lunchtime, my go-to dishes are the BBQ Bean Burger and the Notcha Average Nachos (they are definitely anything but average), while earlier in the day I’ll invariably look the menu up and down and then end up ordering the Big Breakfast. And then not need to eat again until dinner.

I’m not vegan, and neither are any of the people I’ve visited with, and nobody has ever left unimpressed by the food. Shoutout, too, for the coffee: I’ve never had a bad one, and god knows I’ve ordered enough of them over the years that it can’t be a fluke.

Wild Thyme is easy to find, not only because it’s on one of the main streets in the middle of town, but also because it’s likely to be busy almost regardless of when you go. Especially at weekends, if you’re set on eating there (and honestly, you should be), it’s worth calling ahead to make a booking.

The cafe has often been closed on Tuesdays when I’ve visited in the past, but at time of writing is open from 8am until 2pm daily.

Have a Lazy Picnic in Howitt Park

Adventure playground in Howitt Park, Bright, set in a riverside park
The large playground in Howitt Park: always a popular spot with kids!

Right in the middle of Bright, alongside the river and the brewery, Howitt Park is where it all happens. There’s a big playground that’s ideal for kids both big and small, and it’s a great spot to lay out a picnic blanket under a nearby tree.

Grab takeaways or a few supplies from nearby shops and you’re good to go. There are several picnic tables and BBQs as well: you might need to wait to use one on busy weekends, but should be fine the rest of the time.

The river is pretty shallow as it runs past the park, and on hot days it feels like you’ll find every child in Bright splashing around in it (and half the adults as well). The best spot is just before the bridge and small dam, where the water is nice and still and lifeguards watch out in summer.

Howitt Park is one of the starting points for the Bright Canyon Walk, and is also where you’ll find the Splash Park and regular monthly market. They’re all discussed below.

Relax With the Kids at Bright Splash Park

Bright Splash Park, a concreted area beside a river with various water-focused structures including a dredge, rings, and sprinklers. Small creek alongside and several trees nearby.
Bright Splash Park, without the splash!

At the eastern end of Howitt Park (technically it’s Centenary Park, but it’s all connected) sits probably Bright’s biggest attraction for pint-sized visitors, the Splash Park. Operating all summer long, this is the place to go if you’d like to get soaked in any number of different ways.

There’s an old dredge that dumps bucketfulls of water on anyone standing below, sprinklers that shoot water up from the ground at unpredictable intervals, rings to run through, and more. A knee-high creek is great for little kids, while springboards and a steep slide into the water gives the older kids a good adrenaline rush.

Best of all, it’s all free!

With all of the parkland around, it’s easy to make a day of it: get drenched for as long as you can handle it, dry off and warm up for a while, then throw yourself back into the mayhem again.

The splash park runs from the start of summer until somewhere around Easter, when the weather gets too cold for it to be enjoyable and the river runs too quickly for it to be safe.

Float Down the Ovens River

Inflatable ring with "River Twister" printed on it, sitting among autumn leaves near a river with a walking trail nearby and trees in the background.
Sometimes it’s just too much effort to carry it back home again!

If you’re looking for a way to cool off on a hot summer’s day but things are just a bit too busy around Howitt Park, why not just drop an inflatable ring into the river and quietly drift away?

I’ve seen plenty of people doing exactly that, especially when water levels are low in summer and the river, like everything else, has a slower pace. You can go a reasonable distance, although do watch out for rocks and small rapids as you get a bit further away from the centre of town.

Don’t forget, too, that rivers only flow one way: you’ll need to walk back to town once you’re done, unless you can convince someone to come and collect you.

Stroll the Canyon Walk to See the Ovens River Gorge

Rocky section of trail on Bright Canyon Walk, with river alongside and higher rocky bank on the other side.
A rocky section of trail on the Bright Canyon Walk

We really like the Bright Canyon Walk around here, so much so that we even wrote a lengthy old guide to it! It’s a fairly short, easy walk that you can do with the kids, but still gets you out in nature and has an interesting backstory as well.

The Canyon Walk starts right in the middle of town: you can pick it up from a few different places, but Howitt Park (above) is always a good option. From there, it runs along one side of the Ovens River and back up the other, with useful information boards explaining the fascinating gold mining history of the area.

Even if you’re not into the history, the forest, views, and ever-changing river gorge make the walk highly worthwhile regardless. You’ve got plenty of choices about how you tackle it, from a short 1.5km version that’s entirely sealed through to a couple of extensions that make the total distance about 5km. The official route is just over 3km.

It’s fine for dogs and children, can be done in any pair of shoes that have a bit of grip, and is a delightful way to spend an hour or so on a sunny afternoon. Highly recommended!

Visit the Bright Art Gallery

Concrete building with metal sign saying "Bright Art Gallery and Cultural Centre" on the wall. A metal sculpture is on the lawn alongside, with cycle racks out the front.
Bright Art Gallery and Cultural Centre

I’ve visited the Bright Art Gallery and Cultural Centre a few times over the years, and always been impressed by the quality and diversity of what’s on display. It really comes into its own with a huge exhibition during the autumn festival (below), but it’s well worth a visit during the rest of the year as well.

The not-for-profit organisation behind the gallery has been running for sixty years, and primarily showcases the work of local artists in an accessible and easily-understood format. Seasonal exhibitions complement the regular permanent displays: the gallery has over 350 artworks in its collection.

Opening hours vary somewhat depending on whether there’s an exhibition on or not, but are typically at least 10am to 2pm. Entry is by donation to help cover the running costs, or a small set fee for the seasonal exhibits. Some artworks are available for sale as well.

The gallery is about a ten minute walk from the centre of town on Mountbatten Street, and there’s plenty of street parking nearby if you’d rather drive.

It’s Always Christmas at Making Spirits Bright

Front of Making Spirits Bright, a store that specialises in Christmas decorations and accessories. Reindeer sculptures above the door, old-style lanterns on lampposts on either side, and a countdown on a blackboard showing 251 days until Christmas.
Only 251 days to go!

Now, you may think that Christmas only comes around in December. You may likewise think that shopping for Christmas decorations and accessories is something you’d only do towards the end of the year. And if you do think those things, you clearly haven’t visited Making Spirits Bright.

No matter whether it’s January or June, there’s always a festive spirit inside this expansive store (along with a countdown to the big day). Whether you’re in desperate need of a Santa or a snow globe, a bauble or a box of Christmas crackers, you’ll find it here.

It’s a very unusual idea for a store, but judging by how busy it’s been every time I’ve gone in, it’s an appealing one. If you absolutely can’t get enough of all things Christmas, they even often a VIP membership that gets you a 20% discount whenever you spend over $100.

Located on Barnard Street, just off the main road through town, Making Spirits Bright is open from 10am to 5pm Monday through Saturday, and 10am to 3pm on Sundays. There’s an online shop as well, so getting a life-size animated Grinch shipped straight to your door is only ever a couple of clicks away.

Taste Local Produce at the Bright Market

Close-up shot of several pumpkins displayed for sale on a wooden pallet
Anyone for pumpkin?

If you get the chance, try to be in Bright on the third Saturday of the month. That’s when the “Make It, Bake It, Grow It” market takes place in Howitt Park, and despite the clunky name, it’s very much worth a visit. It runs throughout the year, although like everything else in town, it’s much busier during the holidays.

Running from 9am until 1pm, there’s a good mix of stalls and plenty of different ways to spend your money. There’s plenty of great fruit and veges that are better and cheaper than anything you’ll find at the supermarket, local produce like honey, olive oil, and nuts, lots of art, ceramics, and other crafts, plus anything from handmade soap to freshly-baked bread.

There are several stalls selling hot food and drinks as well, so wander down, grab a coffee and a crepe, and see what grabs your fancy this month!

Go Leaf Peeping (and Much More) at the Bright Autumn Festival

Trees with brightly-coloured autumn leaves on either side of a town street. Brick buildings with overhanging awnings on each side. More colourful trees visible in the distance. Fallen leaves on both sides of the street.
Autumn really is one of the best times to visit Bright

The Bright Autumn Festival dates back all the way to 1962, making it one of the longest-running festivals in the country. A celebration of all things autumnal, it’s a chance to see the stunning colours of the alpine trees all around the area, enjoy delicious local produce, and much more during the ten-day festival period.

There’s a major exhibition at the Art Gallery that runs the entire time, with over 500 pieces on display during the most recent festival. Tours of the local area, markets, and concerts run throughout, and many private gardens open to the public, either for free or a small fee that’s donated to a local charity.

The biggest event of each year’s festival, however, is Gala Day. Held on the second Saturday of the festival, there’s a parade, markets, live music, and more, and lasts all day. The day is now dedicated to Al Findlay, a bastion of the local community for over 30 years.

The autumn leaves in and around Bright really are stunning: I was there most recently in April 2023, a week before the festival started, and the leaves were absolutely spectacular. The timing varies a little each year, but Gala Day is usually scheduled for the first Saturday of May, so you can work backwards from there.

Stoke Your Wanderlust at the Adventure Travel Film Festival

Long straight empty dirt road in Namibia, with small mountain range in distance.
Pretty sure this is, officially, the middle of nowhere

Every year for the last decade, somewhere around Valentines Day, a team of dedicated volunteers in Bright have done their absolute best to convince you it’s time to pack it all in and go on a ridiculous adventure.

For an entire weekend, short films of all kinds get shown in a bunch of different spaces around town as part of the Adventure Travel Film Festival. Whether it’s motorcycling through the Himalayas, riding a bicycle around the world, kayaking remote Alaskan rivers, or hiking the length of a country, there’ll be an escapade that makes you think to yourself “you know, I’d love to do that one day”.

Or at least, it always does for me. I’ve been to the ATFF a few times now, and come away highly inspired each time. Alongside the films, a wide range of speakers share the story of their own adventures, many of which I found even more interesting than the films themselves. There’s usually a chance for some Q&A, and maybe time for a quick one-on-one chat afterwards if you’re lucky.

The weekend culminates on Sunday night with a full-length movie projected onto a big screen down by the river. Grab a picnic blanket, some snacks, and your favourite drinks, and get your final dose of inspiration alongside hundreds of other travel diehards.

If you’re in any way interested in adventure travel, in whatever form it might take, you owe it to yourself to be in Bright in the middle of February!

Enjoy the View from Huggins Lookout

View from a lookout over a township and trees on a valley floor, with hills and mountains in the background. Blue skies with some fog visible in the valley
The view from Huggins Lookout, just in time for the fog to start clearing!

There are a few different places to get good views over Bright and the Ovens Valley, but my favourite is definitely Huggins Lookout. You can see for miles down the gorge and over to the hills on the other side of the gorge, yet it’s easily accessible from the township itself.

You can get there a couple of different ways, depending on how energetic you’re feeling and how much you enjoy driving on dirt roads. If you’d like a bit of a workout, walk or drive to the start point of the Huggins Lookout Trail, at the end of Deacon Ave.

From there, it’s a relatively short walk of about 800 metres, zigzagging your way up the side of the hill until you emerge from the trees beside the lookout at the top. The climb isn’t particularly difficult, although it does get a bit steeper at the end.

If you only want the view without the elevated heartrate, you can drive to the lookout instead. It’s best accessed via Bakers Gully Road and Huggins Road: the latter is a dirt track that’s pretty muddy after rain, and pretty bumpy in any weather. You don’t need a 4WD unless it’s super-wet, though: just keep an eye out for particularly large dips and ruts.

Keep an eye on the sky before heading up: there’s often fog hugging the valley first thing in the morning. It’ll almost certainly clear after an hour or two, so go grab a coffee at Sixpence Coffee (below) and wait it out rather than rushing up the hillside to see a big bunch of nothing.

Last time we went up there, just before 9am, we arrived just as the fog was starting to break up. As you can see above, there was still a bit of mist around as we were taking our photos, but a family that was also at the top said they’d been standing there for an hour waiting for that moment.

They didn’t seem super-happy about that fact.

Look Out for Platypus on the Bakers Gully Nature Trail

Picnic table beside a narrow dirt path running through trees on a sunny day
Now that’s the perfect spot for a picnic

If you decided to drive up to Huggins Lookout (or even if you didn’t), be sure to stop off at the Bakers Gully Nature Trail on the way back to town. The start of the trail is a 4WD track that’s marked on Google Maps but not signposted from Bakers Gully Road: just park on the side of the road and walk through the gate.

From there, the path wanders through the trees, over a bridge, and past a couple of small reservoirs. There are picnic tables and basic BBQ facilities available if you want to have your lunch here, although you’ll need to bring your own wood.

The lower loop track around the first reservoir is 800m and takes 15 minutes or so to walk; it’s about the same again if you want to add the upper loop. I’d recommend doing both if you’ve got the energy and time, otherwise just stroll around the lower loop.

There’s plenty of bird life, and shady trees to get out of the sun if you’re there in the middle of the day. The best time to visit, though, is early in the morning or late afternoon: that’s when you have the best chance of seeing the resident platypus in the stream or near the reservoir dams.

Dogs are allowed (on leash), and it’s just a lovely spot to spend half an hour or so.

Cycle the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail

Large sign beside a paved path advertising the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail, with maps and information. Person walking dog on the path in the middle distance
On your bike!

If you’re into cycle touring in any way, chances are you’ve already heard of the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail. This 97km cycle path is pretty well-known throughout Victoria, running from Wangaratta in the north to Bright in the south, with a side trail out to Beechworth if you’d like to extend.

It’s paved the whole way and with the exception of that side trip, almost entirely flat. This makes it very accessible for cyclists of any ability, and chances are you’ll see everyone from families with kids to groups of friends somewhere along the trail. Riding the whole thing takes two or three days depending on how hardcore you’re being about it, but you can easily just cycle a section of it.

I mention a winery-based round trip from Bright below; you could also get dropped off at Gapstead Wines near Myrtleford and work your way back. It’s a stunning part of the country, with gorgeous views over the vineyards and rolling hills, and easily manageable: you’d ride a bit under 40km over the course of the day, with several “refreshment” stops along the way just in case you’re getting tired.

You can rent bikes (including e-bikes) from a few places around town, including All Terrain Cycles, Cyclepath, or Bright Electric Bikes.

Go Mountain Biking at Mystic Mountain Bike Park

Dirt mountain bike path curving through small trees and grass on a sunny day
This is definitely one of the easier options!

If riding a flat, paved rail trail just doesn’t sound exciting enough for you, it’s time to head to Mystic Mountain Bike Park instead. Situated in a regenerating pine planation just on the outskirts of town, the bike park has over 50km of trails targeted at all ability levels.

It’s run by the local community, and is a pretty slick operation. There’s even a partnership with a local commercial operator to provide shuttle services, if your desire to ride down a trail is a whole lot higher than your desire to ride down it!

If you want to try out the trails but didn’t bring your own mountain bike with you, a few stores around town will hire one out to you (including e-bikes if you prefer). Check out All Terrain Cycles, Cyclepath, or Bright Electric Bikes to see what’s available and how much you’ll pay.

Speaking of paying, it’s worth noting that access to the park is no longer free: you need a membership to use it. A single day pass is $15 (or $25 if you want to use the shuttles), but it gets much cheaper if you buy for a longer period. Buy an annual pass, and the day rate drops to 26c!

The Mystic website has a bunch of useful information, including a downloadable trail map that you can save to your phone. Trails are graded green, blue, black, or double-black (shown as red on the map), based on their technical difficulty.

Play a Round of Golf at the Bright Country Golf Club

Silhouetted person in soft focus who is putting a gold ball into the hole on a gold course with blurred trees in the background
Almost! Sattahipbeach/Shutterstock.com

I much prefer to play golf on country courses than those in major cities: they tend to be less stuffy and more attractive, not to mention often having cheaper green fees as well.

The Bright Country Golf Club is a good example: for $25/$45, you get to play nine or eighteen holes at a scenic and lovingly-maintained course just out of town. There are no bunkers (ideal for my skill level) but that doesn’t mean the course is easy: there are plenty of challenges lying in wait on the sloping greens and tree-lined fairways.

Green fee players are welcome, and there are annual memberships available at reasonable prices if you live in the area or visit frequently. The pro shop hires everything from clubs to motorised carts when it’s open: you can also pay green fees online under an honesty system when the shop is closed.

The club runs regular weekly competitions (visitors are welcome), and has a reciprocal half-price agreement with over 100 other clubs around the state and country.

Or Enjoy Mini Golf With the Kids Instead

Mini golf course with several different holes visible. Holes marked by checkered flags. Townhouses and conference room visible behind the course.
Time to break out the putter

If you can’t convince the kids that caddying you around a golf course for a few hours is how they’d like to spend their holiday, there is another option. In the grounds of the motor inn, alongside the river and splash park, Bright Mini Golf is a recent addition to town, and a popular one at that.

Don’t expect loop-the-loops, ramps, or other bells and whistles here: it’s actually a replica of the full-sized 18-hole course at the country club, complete with bunkers and water traps (or at least things that look a lot like them).

Things start off reasonably easy, but they don’t stay that way. It’s definitely one of those courses where a bit of practice makes a big difference: the undulations that make you want to scream the first time you play suddenly seem to start working in your favour a few rounds later!

There’s a practice putting green so you can get your eye in before heading out to dominate the course, and a podium of sorts at the end so the winner can stand tall and trash talk the rest of your group. That’s obviously a vital part of any family mini golf game. Or is that just my family?

It’s open from 9am every day, but closing times vary: drop in beforehand or give them a call if you’re looking for a late game.

Visit the Bright Cinema for a Movie Night

Cinema in Bright, housed in an old stone building with a billboard outside advertising the movies that are currently showing.
Now, isn’t this better than a multiplex in a shopping mall?

Give me the choice between a cozy little boutique movie theatre with a few dozen overstuffed seats and a big, shiny cinema complex with all the bells and whistles, and I’ll take the first option every time.

That’s why Bright’s local Sun Cinema, right alongside the brewery and information centre, is so appealing. It has a single screen and holds about 60 people, showing a few movies a day from new releases to arthouse films. You’ll often see climbing and other outdoor-focused documentaries on the bill as well, which is hardly surprising in a town like this.

Tickets cost $19.50 per adult, $16.50 for students and other concession card holders, and $13.50 for teenagers and seniors. You can also become a member for $15, which gives you one free ticket and discounts on every other ticket you buy, valid for a year.

The cinema is closed on Tuesdays, but open throughout the day and into the evening the rest of the week.

Grab a Great Brew at Sixpence Coffee

Small coffee cup with latte art on a saucer, sitting on a wooden table.
Looks great, tasted even better

As good as the coffee is at Wild Thyme (above), it’s still not the best in town. That honour goes to Sixpence Coffee, who roast their own beans right there in Bright, and sell the end result to a crowd of caffeine addicts like me every weekday morning.

I’m not kidding about the crowd, either: last time we were there, at 8am on a random Tuesday, there was exactly one table left when we wandered in. And that’s not even counting the large group of cyclists that were standing around with their bikes outside, takeaway cups steaming in the morning air. A secret, this place is not.

And nor should it be. Coffee this good deserves a wide audience, after all. I go on a lot about the best places to find coffee in my part of Melbourne, but the flat whites we had at Sixpence were as good as any I’ve had in Fitzroy or Collingwood.

The fitout is great as well, and it was super-cozy inside on the morning we were there. Friendly staff and a range of tasty pastries seal the deal: this is the place to get your day started. If you go there and agree with that assessment, you can also buy the beans instore, or online when you get back home.

Sixpence Coffee is open from 7am to 2pm, Monday through Friday.

Take In a Tasting at Reed & Co Distillery

Range of gin and liqueur bottles on a bar at Reed and Co distillery. Shelves behind with more bottles. Second bar with high seats at 90 degrees to the first one, for people to sit and do tastings.
Where to start?

If you’re a fan of both gin and coffee like I am, and you time things just right, you won’t even need to change seats to try delicious versions of both. Sixpence Coffee and Reed & Co Distillery are both located in the same space on Wills Street: when the coffee shop closes at 2pm, the distillery opens up. Perfect.

Although they also do a small range of liqueurs, it’s really all about the gin at Reed and Co. If you’re not sure which one you’ll like, go for a tasting flight: with everything from dry gin and yuzu to grape gin and bar essentials on offer, there’s plenty of variety. If you thought all gin tasted the same, it’s definitely time for a rethink.

You can book a tasting in advance, which it’s probably worth doing if you’re there during peak times, but otherwise walk-ins are fine. The tasting is quite expensive at $20pp, although you do at least get a discount on any bottles you decide to buy afterward.

You can also just pop in for a cocktail: there’s a full bar available, and it’s a super-cozy spot for a couple of drinks on a cold winter night (or lets face it, any other time of year as well).

Reed and Co Distillery is open from 2pm Thursday through Monday. It closes at 7pm on Sunday, Monday, and Thursday, and 8pm the rest of the time.

Drive or Hike to the Top of Mount Buffalo

Expansive view out over fields of granite boulders, with a winding dirt road snaking through it into the distance. Hills and mountains visible all the way to the horizon.
View from The Horn, at the top of Mount Buffalo–and that’s just in one direction!

Bright is lucky enough to be within easy reach of two great national parks: Alpine NP, on the Great Alpine Road, and Mount Buffalo NP, just west of Porepunkah. I personally think the latter is seriously underrated: close to town, it has enough great trails and viewpoints to spend days there, but is small enough that you can get a good taste of what it has to offer in a few hours.

I’ll take any excuse to visit, but if the skies are clear, I usually head to the end of the road. The top of Mount Buffalo, known loving as “The Horn”, sits at a cool 1723m above sea level, but fortunately you can drive almost all of the way. It takes about 45 minutes to get there from Bright.

It’s a pretty winding road once you get into the national park, but sealed and well-maintained almost the entire way. It’s only the last kilometre or so where the asphalt peters out: take it slow and you’ll be fine, even in a small car like mine.

Don’t expect to have the place to yourself: I last visited early afternoon on a random weekday outside the holidays, and still had to park back down the road a bit because the proper carpark area was full. There are some impressive views from the picnic area there out towards the Australian Alps, with an old shelter that dates back to the 1930s an especially popular spot for framing the perfect photo.

If you want the full 360-degree experience, though, it’s time to go for a bit of a walk. The trail to The Horn runs from the back of the picnic area for about 500 metres up to a fenced viewpoint at the very top.

It’s absolutely worth the effort, with incredible panoramic views over the mountains and granite boulder fields in every direction. Just try not to be up there at the same time as a school group: I can confirm it gets a bit cozy on the lookout platform!

It’s a steady climb rather than being super-steep; easy enough in good weather, trickier when it’s wet. There’s a very good chance you’ll get a bit (a lot) of wind at the top, so take a sweatshirt or jacket with you even if it’s warm and sunny at the carpark.

Or Check Out Some Incredible Waterfalls

Very close to the entrance of Mount Buffalo National Park sits one of its biggest attractions, hidden almost in plain sight. Park up in the small carpark or on the side of the road when you see the signs for Ladies Bath and Eurobin Falls, lace up your walking shoes, and prepare to be impressed.

Stopping there was a bit of an afterthought: we’d just enjoyed the endless views from the Horn at the top of the mountain, and then checked out the many dramatic viewpoints along the Gorge Heritage Walk on our way back down. How good could these waterfalls really be?

Very, is the answer. After heavy rain the day before, the Eurobin Falls were in full flow when we visited, and even as someone who’s seen a lot of waterfalls in his time, they didn’t disappoint. They’re actually in two parts: the lower falls (in the video above), and the upper falls that tumble from a greater height.

They’re both absolutely worth seeing, although I would say that the climb from the lower to the upper falls was a bit more strenuous that I was expecting. Admittedly I did have pretty tired legs after a day of walking, but even so I could have done without the minor slog up the trail to get there!

Before you get to either of them, though, you’ll walk over a bridge across a narrow river, just past the base of a small waterfall. This is Ladies Bath, where women would cool off back in the day as they took a break from the arduous journey up the Mount Buffalo Chalet. It’s remained a popular spot for a dip ever since.

The walk from the parking area to Ladies Bath takes less than five minutes, with a fairly gradual incline. Fom there to the Lower Eurobin Falls is again only a few minutes, albeit somewhat steeper. The final section to the upper falls takes longer and is steeper again: it’s fine for most people, at least in dry conditions, but be prepared to take a bit of extra time if you need to. The falls aren’t going anywhere!

Explore the Local Wineries

Seven partially-filled wine glasses on a wooden platter, sitting on a wooden table on the grass outside a winery. Beanbags and people in the background.
Time for a tasting!

Bright’s sub-alpine location, with hot summer days and cool nights, make it ideal for wine making: over thirty different kinds of grapes are grown in vineyards around the area.

You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to nearby wineries and cellar doors: Billy Button is right in the heart of town, Ringer Reef is just down the road in Porepunkah, and Feathertop is only a few minutes further. Even Myrtleford‘s Gapsted Wines and Michelini are less than a half-hour drive away.

If it was me, though, I’d stick to the three closest to town, and cycle between them. The Murray to Mountains Rail Trail will take you to both Ringer Reef and Feathertop without having to mix with car traffic, and it’s a lovely scenic, flat ride the whole way.

Billy Button is the perfect place to start, with free tastings of their impressive range of whites and reds, and a great cheese platter if you’re peckish while you’re there. It’s open from noon every day.

From there, jump on your bike and pedal out to Ringer Reef. They usually have around ten wines on offer, with a few whites and reds and typically a rosé or two as well. Tastings are available, or you can just go for a glass or two on the landing. Share platters are an option as well. Book ahead if you can.

Established back in 1988, Feathertop has been around a while, producing some spectacular merlots alongside an extensive range of other varietals. They provide tastings and delicious platters, and are well worth a visit, but note that this is one you definitely have to book in advance: you can’t just show up.

Go Paragliding With a Local

A fact I didn’t know until recently: Bright has some of the best paragliding in the country. The nearby mountains provide the perfect launching spot, and on a cloudless day, you’ll likely only need to glance upward to see just how popular this sport is with locals.

Visitors aren’t left out, though: there are several commercial paragliding operators in Bright and the nearby area, and they’re only too happy to take you on a tandem flight. The launch zone is up at the top of Mystic Mountain, although I wouldn’t suggest driving up there unless you’re flying, since the dirt road is narrow and not in great condition.

Your exact flight path varies depending on the conditions, but spectacular views are all but assured. You’ll land in a large field just outside town: it’s marked as Mystic Flight Park on Google Maps, and is just down the road from the Mystic Mountain Bike Park mentioned above.

Expect to pay somewhere between roughly $200-400 for a tandem flight, depending on what kind of flight you’d like and how long you’d like to be up in the air. If you end up loving the experience, many of the paragliding companies also run training schools: you can be skilled up and ready to fly solo in as little as a couple of days!

Where to Stay in Bright

Bright is a very popular destination, so despite having a lot of accommodation for the size of the town, it fills up quickly in peak times. I’d recommend booking in advance at any time of year, but especially during the summer holidays, long weekends, and around the autumn festival.

We’ve stayed in a number of different places here over the years, at a range of price points. Our favourite, and current pick for the best place to stay in Bright, is Cedar Holiday Units. We stayed in Unit 4 for a few nights, and absolutely loved it.

The fullsize kitchen was very well-equipped (a rarity in most accommodation!), and perfect for cooking up a storm with everything we’d bought from the local shops and markets. The delightful grassy area with picnic tables out the back caught the sun in the afternoons, making it the ideal spot to sit and drank wine most evenings.

The whole place was super clean, bright (pun intended), and very spacious, with comfortable beds and a modern bathroom. Easily walkable into town, it’s a great option when you’re part of a larger group: you can sleep up to five people between the two bedrooms and fold-out sofa.

Other units in the same block are also available, with a mix of one, two, and three bedroom options depending on what you’re after.

If you’re on a budget, the Bright Avenue Motor Inn is a great option. We stayed there on our last visit, and the room was clean, comfortable, and perfect for a one or two night stay. It had everything we needed, from a little kitchenette to a nice hot shower.

Check-in was completely contactless so we were able to arrive after dark without worrying about whether there’d be anybody on reception, and there’s a small swimming pool available during the warmer months. I’d happily stay there again next time we’re in town.

If you’re travelling with friends or family, or just like a bit of extra space, take a look at Willow Dene Holiday Apartments. We really enjoyed our stay here: the separate kitchen/living room made it feel more like a holiday home than a hotel, and the separate bedrooms (plus fold-out sofa) gave plenty of sleeping options.

There’s a huge lawn out the front of the property, with a BBQ area that was far too appealing to ignore. And so we didn’t. Steak, salad, and beer in the evening sun was absolute bliss–although if we hadn’t wanted to cook, it was less than a five minute walk across the river to the brewery and the rest of town.

All images copyright Everything Victoria unless otherwise noted

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About the author

One half of the team behind Everything Victoria, Dave loves camping, hiking, and finding new and inventive ways to spend all of his money on coffee. Originally from New Zealand, he moved to Melbourne well over a decade ago, and has been exploring this wonderful part of the country ever since.

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