SUMMER DAYTRIPPERS: Bright, just the spot to unwind

YOU can always be sure it’s a little cooler in the leafy alpine town of Bright when the temperature climbs.

Known for its spectacular autumn foliage, the area attracts many summer pilgrims looking to enjoy the great outdoors and a breeze or two in our hottest months.

The scenery, with its mountain backdrops, is spectacular and there are plenty of swimming spots with the Buckland and Ovens rivers meandering through the valley.

The drive from Albury-Wodonga to Bright is about 110 kilometres passing through Yackandandah, Myrtleford and Porepunkah.

Bright was once known as Morses Creek because it was settled on the remote Morses Creek cattle run.

The name changed to Bright, amid much debate, back in 1862.

The search for gold brought miners and diggers to the area in droves and, later, many found the high country was an ideal place to enjoy recreational activities in the Mount Buffalo National Park.

The historic Mount Buffalo Chalet was built in 1910.

Once in Bright, lots of short scenic walks take you along peaceful riversides or steeper tracks to lookouts.

The history of the area is evident on many of these walks and several explain their past with interpretive signs.

Bright’s popular canyon walk takes visitors past a small canyon carved by the Ovens River and amazing water races carved by the early miners.

It’s a four-kilometre, 90-minute walk that starts at Howitt Park with a few short steep hills — the track on the southern bank of the Ovens River is easier and wheelchair friendly.

One of the best ways to enjoy Bright in all its glory is on two wheels — take your own bike or you can hire one from Cyclepath at www.cyclepath.com.au.

The popular Murray to Mountains Rail Trail takes in spectacular scenery with Mount Buffalo in the background.

Drop by Bright Berry Farms on the ride from Bright to Eurobin for a delicious berry cup.

For a bird’s-eye view of the area, try paragliding or take to the water in a kayak or canoe on Lake Catani. Hire from Adventure Guides Australia on 0419 280 614.

The best swimming spot is by the Ovens River in Centenary Park where there’s a children’s pool as well.

Canoeing, kayaking or just floating down the Ovens and Buckland rivers are popular pursuits in the summer months.

Local operator Absolute Outdoors offers short trips down part of the calmer but interesting sections of the rivers and provides instruction on a more challenging part. Visit www.absoluteoutdoors.com.au or call (03) 5756 2694.

Bright is also well known for its food and wine scene with Tani’s Eat & Drink winning The Age Good Food Guide 2014 best new regional restaurant award.

There are many farm-gate producers in the area perfect for picnics.

INTERACTIVE MAP: Daily top five activity recommendations

Join the harvest trail

Treat yourself with these yummies

- Picnic spots

- High Country swims

- Boredom killers

- High Country strolls

- Best coffee spots

There are some great drives from Bright including:

Tower Hill

Eight-kilometre return trip.

Drive two kilometres from Bright towards Porepunkah on the Great Alpine Road. A left turn takes you up a gravelled road to the lookout over Bright with Mount Bogong behind. Return by same route.

Drive up Baker Gully Road and continue along signed forest roads through pine plantations to the top. There are good views of Mount Buller to the south across to Mount Buller and the ranges. Return by same route.

A short drive south of Bright from Bakers Gully Road, turn left along a gravel road to the lookout. This can be made into a round trip by continuing on this road, then left down Mystic Lane and left again back into Bright.

Drive along Great Alpine Road to Porepunkah roundabout and follow through it to Mount Buffalo Road. The road winds up 23 kilometres to the plateau, with walks to Eurobin Falls and Rolleston Falls along the way. Once on the plateau, you have the options of turning left to see the Mount Buffalo Chalet, Bent’s Lookouts and go on the Gorge Nature Walk.

Side trips:

Travel south along the Great Alpine Road to the historic gold mining town of Harrietville. The road climbs up through tall native forests, and is sealed all the way to Mount Hotham Resort. Breath-taking views look out over the alpine high country and many and varied bushwalks can be started from this area.

The famous Bon Accord and Bungalow Spur walking tracks depart from Harrietville. They head up to Mount Feathertop and across the Great Dividing Range.

The town is named after Harriet Tisdale, who was one of the few white women living in the area in 1861.

It’s a great cycling area — but the challenging ascent to Mount Hotham is definitely only for the fittest. It’s one of seven peaks to conquer over summer in the 7 Peaks Alpine Ascent Challenge. Visit www.7peaks.com.au.

Tronoh Dredge is a 30-metre deep swimming hole with a jetty, pontoon and barbecue facilities.

A great place for a picnic is Tavare Park on the Ovens River with plenty of shade.

If you love ice-cream, drop into Morrie’s Cafe for a home-made treat.

A charming historic village near Bright once had more than 1000 people with schools, library, churches, shops and hotels. Today it is registered with the National Trust as a classified landscape. Take a walk by the river.

The Diggings Walk is a two-kilometre, one-hour return walk through former goldfields.

OTHER SUMMER DAYTRIPPERS YARNS:

- The Ned Kelly trail

Lake Hume

- Paddling the Murray River

The Snowy region

Lake Mulwala

- A part of history in 'Man's' home

- Something for all tastes

- Cool and clean, even without the snow

- The Kelly gang, gold, and a tiny pub

- Rich Italian history of the Valley

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