Bright: The Tourist Mecca of North Eastern Victoria
Bright in Victoria is a tourist dream. This amazing place is also great for families and kids. There are many great things to do in Bright and most of them involve getting outdoors and enjoying the scenery.
What is Bright Famous For?
Famous pioneer explorers Hamilton Hume and William Hovell discovered the area in 1824. During their expedition they named the Ovens River. This river is still a focal point of the town today. Bright is also famous for its annual Autumn Festival which is held in May.
In January of 2020 Bright was hit hard by a serious bushfire which threatened the town. The blaze destroyed many surrounding areas. International superstar Katy Perry performed a concert in Bright in early March. The concert was free for those who fought the fires and those effected by them. Local firefighters who fought the fire were honoured during the show.
Bright is located near Mount Buffalo National Park and Alpine National Park in Northern Victoria. It is around 320 kilometres north east of Melbourne.
Bright is a popular tourist region with the surrounding Alpine area. As a result, skiers from across the country flock to the nearby slopes. Together with tourism and hospitality, agriculture is also an important industry in the region. Bright has a population of around 2,400.
After being first documented by Hume and Hovell’s famous expedition, it took several years for the first settlers to arrive. European settlement dates from the 1830’s, however the town of Bright remained small until the gold rush of the 1850’s.
During the Victorian gold rush prospectors flocked to nearby Buckland River. A famous riot between Chinese and European miners, the Buckland Riot, took place in 1857. Many Chinese were killed during the riot and the those remaining fled the area.
Bright’s population grew during the late 1800s into the early 1900s. The growth was aided by the opening of the railway line and tourism. Mount Buffalo Chalet opened in 1910 and quickly became Victoria’s premier ski resort.
The Kiewa Hydro Electric Scheme was also developed between the 1930s and the 1960s. The scheme was led by the State’s Electricity Commission. This drove further employment in the region.
Things to do in Bright: Food and Wine
Feathertop Winery is located in the heart of the Alpine Valleys wine region. The winery is home to 22 different varieties of grapes. It has operated successfully over the last 30 years.
The beautiful estate overlooks Mt Buffalo. As a result, it has several outdoor seating options for guests to enjoy the views.
Feathertop Winery is known for producing quality, alternative wines. These include Savagnin, Tempranillo and Vermentino.
Lovers of traditional wines will also enjoy their award-winning varieties. These include Shiraz, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Prosecco. They also produce a selection of fortified wines.
Those interested in more than a wine tasting are also catered for. Regular tours allow guests to find out more about the winery and its history.
Feathertop Winery is open to the general public from Friday to Sunday between 11:00am and 5:00pm. Extended hours during public and school holidays.
Details about opening times and special events can be found on the Feathertop Winery Facebook page.
Emo Michelini founded the winery in 1982 having migrated from Italy in the late 1940’s. The Michelini family has been famous the world over as winemakers. Emo’s family have been producing wines for over 150 years.
Michelini Wines is situated just 30 minutes from Bright on the Great Alpine Road in Myrtleford. The wineries Cellar Door is spectacular. It is built in the style of a traditional Italian villa.
Michelini Wines features award winning cool climate Italian varieties. These include Pinot Grigio, Barbera, Sangiovese, Marzemino, Teroldego and Fragolino.
Guests can combine their love of fine wine with that of art and music. Art exhibitions and live music sessions are featured throughout the year. The highlight being the La Fiera Festival in May.
Ginger Baker Cafe and Wine Bar
Positioned alongside the Ovens River, Ginger Baker Wine and Food enjoys a prime location. The backdrop includes natural waterfalls and elm trees.
The splash park is within a stone throw from the Café. As a result, the kids are occupied while mum and dad enjoy fine wine and great food.
Ginger Baker Cafe and Wine Bar is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It offers a huge selection of the best wines from the region and around the world.
The café offers a wide variety of food dishes. Produce is also sourced from local vendors throughout Bright and surrounds.
It is a locally owned restaurant. The owners have created a relaxing and welcoming atmosphere for guests to enjoy. As a result, it is a great experience for food and wine lovers when visiting Bright.
Gapsted Wines’ Cellar Door is one of the regions most popular tourist destinations. Set amongst the Ovens Valley it is well worth the short drive from Bright.
Over 25 cool climate wines are available for tasting on site. These include rare varieties such as Fiano and Saperavi. Traditional favourites Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are also available.
The onsite restaurant boasts a seasonal a la carte menu. The menu options are perfect for an afternoon nibble or full-blown feast.
Gapsted Wines host regular events during the year. These include three Big Shed wine sales, Shakespeare in the Vines and regular live music.
The food, wine and scenery are all spectacular at Gapsted Wines. A must add to the to do list when visiting Bright. Check out their Facebook Page for more details on upcoming events and opening times.
Things to do in Bright: Arts and Culture
Bright Museum is in the historic old Bright Railway Station. The railway has played an important part in the history of the town and is the main museum attraction. It has several pieces on display typical of that used on the old Ovens Valley Railway.
Along with the railway, the gold rush in the 1850’s is also historically important in the region. A reconstructed Chinese Joss House is featured. This is based on the one destroyed in the Buckland Valley riot. It also features a collection of artefacts from Chinese miners.
A photographic collection is also a highlight. The museum holds several historically important shots and other pieces covering the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
The Bright Museum is open Saturdays and Sundays 2:00pm to 4:00pm from mid-September to end of May. During the school holidays the museum is also open Tuesday and Thursday 2:00pm to 4:00pm.
Opening times and displays are outlined on the Bright Museums website.
Bright Art Gallery and Culture Centre
The Art Gallery and Culture Centre we see today was founded in late 1982. The history behind this great venue dates to the 1960’s.
The Annual Bright Art Exhibition commenced in 1963. It was housed in various venues in Bright, but without a proper home. The aim of the exhibition committee was to establish a community Art Gallery in Bright.
The Autumn Art Exhibition was first held in its current home in 1983. The building was fully renovated in 2012. The improved facilities now host exhibitions and also special functions.
The Gallery’s regular exhibitions include solo exhibitions by local artists, a two-month summer exhibition and photographic exhibitions.
Art-minded visitors to Bright will love the spacious and modern feel of the Gallery. They will also enjoy the varied works and art genres on display.
Kiewa Valley Historical Society Museum
A short, 30-minute drive from Bright is the lovely town of Mount Beauty. History buffs must add the Kiewa Valley Historical Society Museum to their list of things to do when visiting Bright.
The Kiewa Valley Historical Society was founded in 1965. They set about documenting and also preserving the history of the valley. As a result, significant documents and artefacts were collected and are housed on site.
The museum has many items that show how the First Peoples lived. There are also displays dedicated to early settlers of the Kiewa Valley.
Collections feature photos, books, farming equipment and early hospital equipment. Also featured are pieces from the Kiewa Hydro Scheme, household items and genealogy records.
The museum is set up in the Mt Beauty Visitor Information Centre. It is open 7 days and entry will cost a gold coin donation.
Winding Road Design Studio
A unique art experience for those visiting Bright, Winding Road Design Studio is a multi-disciplined business that features works from several local artists.
The business began as a market stall ten years ago. It now has a bricks and mortar shop front and has maintained a strong local following.
Along with specialty art works the studio has moved into home décor and furniture design. Visitors will find many unique pieces on sale with the opportunity to help design their own concepts.
Winding Road Design Studio caters to all tastes and budgets. For those who enjoy home decorating, Winding Road is a must visit.
Image Source: Winding Road Facebook Page
Things to do in Bright: Family Friendly
Mountain Fresh Trout and Salmon Farm
Mountain Fresh Trout and Salmon Farm offers a great family day out. The farm is just a 20-minute drive from Bright at nearby Harrietville.
Budding fisherman can catch a fish with an old-fashioned bamboo rod. Kids can also feed the fish in the pristine mountain stream. For those curious as to how it all works, the farm offers a guided stroll through the onsite fish breeding ponds.
Entry to the farm is free however you will need to pay for the fish you catch. The staff will also clean your catch for you before you leave.
Guided tours of the farm for groups are available. Be sure to book in advance to ensure enough guides are available.
The farm is open 5 days a week (closed on Tuesday and Wednesday). During school holiday it is open 7 days a week.
Bright Splash Park
The Bright Splash Park in located in Centenary Park, alongside Morses Creek. Centenary Park is a family friendly park. The park has BBQs, toilets, seating and shelters. It is also close to the town centre.
The Bright Splash Park is the perfect space for families visiting over the warmer months. The design is based on the region’s mining heritage. There are four splash pads, each catering to different age groups.
Older kids will love the top pad with the dredge bucket. Parents are encouraged to select the appropriate splash pad for their child’s age.
Bright Splash Park is environmentally and water conscious. It uses a single-use water system. This draws water from a bore. As a result, it requires no chemical treatment. Used water is drained into the nearby river.
It is FREE for guests and provides hours of family friendly entertainment, along with plenty of holiday photo opportunities. More information about the splash park can be found here.
Lavender Hue Farm
Lavender Hue’s peaceful, riverside setting is just a 20-minute driver from Bright. Guests overlook the spectacular lavender fields. The fields are in flower between December and February.
The site houses cottage gardens and barbecue facilities. Accommodation facilities are available in bed and breakfast style. Rooms are set close to the Ovens River which provides further peaceful ambience.
The Lavender Hue Farm reveals in the history of the goldfields area. It also salutes the High-Country cattlemen and is a great base for skiers heading to the alpine areas in Winter.
The site hosts two hotels and riverside tearooms. These offer oven fresh scones, biscuits and fine espresso coffee. Even Lavender ice cream!
Lavender Hue distill their own oil on site. This is used to make a range of skin care and other products, which are available for sale.
Guests looking to visit will enjoy the well-priced, morning tea packages. The warm, friendly atmosphere at the Lavender Hue Farm is perfect for families. More information about the farm and it’s accommodation options can visit their website.
Red Stag Deer and Emu Farm
This unique property offers great opportunities to feed, touch and learn about deer, emus and ostriches.
The Red Stag has grown and expanded into a restaurant and function centre. There is also an onsite gift shop and farm stay accommodation. The 70-acre farm offers guests stunning alpine views in all directions. This includes views of the beautiful Mount Buffalo national park.
The restaurant is a favourite stop for tours and bus groups. Visitors will love the Devonshire teas which features their massive scones.
For families there is a 9-hole mini golf course on site and an animal petting farm. There is plenty of wide-open spaces for family hikes.
There is also an extensive gift shop at the farm that features emu oils, animal skins and game meats.
Entry to the farm is free for guests with various attractions carrying a small charge. More details on tours and attractions at Red Stag Deer and Emu Farm can be found via the website.
Things to do in Bright: Party Time/ Bars and Restaurants
Tomahawks is a casual bar and all-day eatery. Its location is close to the Ovens River and Centenary Park making it the ideal place to relax after a days sightseeing.
Tomahawks serves quality food, cold drinks and offers great entertainment for guests. As a result, it is a favourite for both locals and visitors alike.
Reservations are available for around a third of the restaurant. The remaining tables are kept for walk in trade.
Bright Brewery is a locally owned, independent craft brewery, bar and restaurant. It is located in the heart of Bright on the banks of the Ovens River. This makes the brewery easily accessible to visitors.
At Bright Brewery they offer beers that reflect the local environment. As a result, they embrace the outdoor lifestyle that the region offers.
Bright Brewery is a family friendly venue. It is open daily for lunch and dinner. There is also live music every Sunday, featuring local and touring artists.
Guests are welcome to explore Bright Brewery’s beers and seasonal brews. A total of 24 different taps are on offer. The brewery also offers tasting trays and beer-matched meals.
Bright Brewery also offers behind-the-scenes Brewery Tours every Friday and Saturday at 3:00pm.
Reed & Co Distillery
Reed & Co Distillery is a family owned urban distillery. The site also offers visitors a neighbourhood bar feel.
The distillery are the makers of Remedy Gin, a local favourite. The distillery has an intimate restaurant perfect for date night.
The bar menu offers Remedy Gin Cocktails, in addition to spirits from other distilleries. There is also great local wine, craft beer, house-made cordials and ferments.
The dinner menu features seasonal ingredients from local producers. This menu has been shaped by the custom-made solid fuel oven and grill. As a result, the menu items have a district flavour, unique to this kitchen.
Couples and singles will love the location and the feel of Reed & Co Distillery. Put it top of the list of things to do in Bright.
The Riverdeck Cafe
The only thing better than the food here is the location. The Riverdeck Cafe by the Ovens River and overlooking beautiful Howitt Park. As a result, it is the perfect place to relax in Bright.
The café boasts great coffee, food and friendly service. It also hosts local and regional wines and even offers free Wi-Fi for guests.
It is open for breakfast, lunch and summer dinners. The menu is seasonal and offers daily specials, delicious sandwiches and house baked scones and cakes.
This café should be the first stop for guests arriving in Bright. It is adjacent to the Alpine Visitor Information Centre. The Visitor Center is the place to go to book tours and find out what happening in town.
Things to do in Bright: Getting Back to Nature
Bright Adventure Company
Those looking for a unique nature experience can look no further.
Bright Adventure Company provides adventure tours throughout Victoria’s High Country. They deliver safe and memorable experiences to customers of all ability levels.
Experiences include rock climbing, abseiling, cliff picnics, kayaking tours and also guided mountain bike tours.
One of the truly unique experiences offered by the company are their cliff picnics package. Guests are suspended on a makeshift ledge 300 metres above the valley floor. The picnic consists of local produce prepared by the company with Mount Buffalo providing the view.
Bright Adventure Company offer sunrise, lunch or dinner cliff picnic options. These are available throughout the year. They also have two ledges available for groups of four.
Alpine National Park
A breathtaking landscape that needs to be seen up close.
The mountain peaks are covered in snow during Winter. The extensive snowfields are the main Winter attraction. In Spring, Summer and Autumn they come to life. As a result, they become amazing places to hike, trek and camp.
The Alpine National Park covers 646,000 hectares and is Victoria’s largest national park. Mount Bogong, Mount Feathertop and the rolling high plains are all waiting to be explored.
The incredible wilderness offers bird watching, mountain biking, swimming and fishing opportunities. The unique flora and fauna is also diverse and plentiful.
Bright and its nearby villages are the best places to use as a base to discover the north eastern sections of the Alpine National Park. These include Mount Hotham, Mount Feathertop and Mount Bogong.
Several Parks Victoria approved tour operators offer guided bushwalks, horse rides and cycling treks year-round.
Mount Buffalo National Park
The awe-inspiring landscape is just half an hour drive from bright and well worth a visit.
The 31,000 hectare National Park is an all-season destination. In winter it’s a great place to take the family for tobogganing or cross-country skiing. Any other time of the year it is a nature lover’s paradise.
On offer for visitors are more than 90km of walking tracks, waterfalls, forests of snow gums and mossy plains. Also featured is abundant wildlife, picnic places and bush camping opportunities.
More than 550 species of plants are protected inside the National Park. Throughout the warmer months the colours spring to life – a truly spectacular display.
The Park is also littered with historical buildings. The Chalet guest house was built in 1910 and is currently getting a makeover. This is a must-see attraction. The beautiful gardens and lookouts spring from the peaceful countryside.
The Mount Buffalo National Park has something for every nature lover. One of the more remarkable things to do when visiting Bright.
Canyon Trail is a comfortable walking track starting from Howitt Park in Bright.
Walkers head towards the Star Road bridge and the northern bank of the Ovens River. There are some has steep steps at this point. As a result, it may be difficult for people with limited mobility.
Alternatively, the track on the southern bank is far more forgiving. This runs from Howitt Park to Canyon Lane. It is a sealed trail and wheelchair friendly.
The Trail features two suspension bridges to the railway bridge. Crossing either of the suspension bridges creates a short or long loop. The short loop is easy and accessible for prams.
Interpretive signs along the trail inform walkers on the local history of the area. The trail also guides walkers past a small canyon carved by the Ovens River. This is a fantastic photo opportunity.
There is no better place to start your day when in Bright. Perfect for a morning stroll and for getting back to nature without leaving the town limits.
Things to do in Bright: Shop Till You Drop
The fun starts at the front door with this unique store. Noofies is an amazing shop, unique to Bright. Every figurine in store is hand made using polymer clay by local artist Kerrie.
There are currently over 100 different animal breeds to choose from. New creatures are added to the range often. Suggestions are welcomed and custom jobs encouraged. Custom creatures may take some time to develop if accepted.
Not only does Kerrie handcraft these delightfully fun figurines, her husband Matt makes the “create your own kits”. Noofies also offer matching gift cards for that fun gift idea.
Kids will adore Noofies. Its hard not to get swept away in the fun atmosphere the store provides. In my travels Noofies is in the top few percent of unique, fun shops I’ve been able to enjoy.
For the record, I purchased a Gorilla for my wife’s birthday. She calls it Jason. Visit their website and Facebook page for more details on these wonderful gift ideas. The most unique thing to do in Bright.
Gather & Harvest
Located a short drive from Bright in nearby Mount Beauty. Gather & Harvest makes and sells its own range of lifestyle products.
Gather & Harvest hand crafts a range of luxury candles, soaps, lip balms, and naturally dyed textiles. These are created in their in-house studio. Workshops are also regularly offered for guests and locals. At these workshops they teach soap, bath bomb and candle making.
Gather & Harvest’s runs an initiative to help women in Bali improve their lives. Soy candles are poured into recycled glass bottles. These have been hand cut by a women’s community group in Bali. As a result, these products help offer these talented Balinese women a livelihood.
Other products on offer include olive oil, goats milk and honey sourced from local alpine area farms. Essential oils and natural clays are used for scent and colour for their soap range.
Country Heart and Home
This business is located in the heart of Bright. It describes itself as a Christmas store and so much more.
The store is filled with unique Christmas decorations and collectables. These are created locally and from all over the world. Everything from handblown glass ornaments to Christmas Trees and Waterballs.
Country Heart and Home also stock 5 ranges of candles imported from the USA. These include Goose Creek, Wood Wick, Swan Creek, Bridgewater and Yankee Candle.
Kids will love this year-round Christmas wonderland. They are well known for the range of Charlie Bears and Isabelle Lee Mohair Bears.
However, it’s more than just a Christmas store. Regular stock includes Lang and Legacy Calendar ranges and unusual card and book ranges. They also stock a huge range of fashion Jewellery, scarves, handbags and purses.
Sew Bright Alpine Quilting
The shopfront is located at the ‘top end’ of Ireland Street. This is also the main shopping street of Bright, making it even more convenient for shoppers.
They offer big range modern fabrics and patterns sourced from all over the world. The store also has a solid range of basics for quilting enthusiasts.
Sew Bright Alpine Quilting stock fabrics, patterns and working kits. They also stock handbag and home decor and the latest quilting tools.
Store owner Angela is also a certified quilting instructor. She hosts regular workshops and classes for all levels of quilters and sewers. The classes are project based and designed to help visitors become confident quilters.
This is the store for sharing your passion for quilting and sewing. Those wishing to expand their skill set in this area should book a workshop during their stay.
Things to do in Bright: Festivals, Other Resources and Conclusion
This area was ravaged by Bushfire in 2020 and needs visitors to come back to the area. There are many great reasons to do exactly that. The locals are friendly and the town itself is beautiful.
As a result I believe Bright is one of the best places to visit in regional Victoria. Bright offers two major festivals that are must see events.
The Bright Autumn Festival
The Bright Autumn Festival has been running since 1962. This makes it one of the oldest continuous running festival in Australia.
Since that time, Bright has continued to celebrate its unique town each Autumn. The Festivals Art Exhibition has become very well-known. It is the largest exhibition at the Bright Art Gallery.
The Gala Day Parade continues to be one of the highlights of the festival. The stunning sights of Bright in Autumn are on display during the festival. The leafy street scape is transformed by the changing colours of the season.
The Bright Spring Festival
Spring in Bright sees the local gardens come to life. The Bright Spring Festival celebrates the change in season which brings with it a different type of visitor to the area.
At the Bright Spring Festival visitors will experience the hospitality of locals. It’s the time of year the natural beauty of the region is the major selling point.
The spectacular wildflowers along the Bogong High Plains Road are a highlight. The Spring Festival showcases several food and wine events and the local monthly market by the river.
This is topped off with the Grand Spectacular Fireworks and concert. The best time of the year to see Bright is surely Spring and the Festival celebrates this in style.
If you are planning your stay in Bright there are two important resources I recommend checking out. The Visit Bright and Surrounds website it a great guide. It contains plenty of great tour ideas and experiences. Reviews from visitors are available on the Tripadvisor website. However, don’t take these reviews as gospel. Every visitor has their own experience. Your experience will likely differ.
In conclusion, Bright is a beautiful, fun and vibrant place. Enjoy your stay and tell me about your trip in the comments.