MYRTLEFORD, in the foothills of Mount Buffalo, has become a popular cycling destination and food and wine hub.
It’s a great day trip from Albury-Wodonga with lots to offer, including the popular Murray to Mountains Rail Trail that winds throughout the area.
The Myrtleford-to-Bright stretch is family friendly with shady picnic spots.
It is a route that passes farm gates where you can stock up on goodies such as fresh berries in summer.
There’s a variety of road rides as well, with bike hire from Myrtleford Cycle Centre (myrtlefordcycle.com) and Bus a Bike (0409 806 458) for when the going gets tough.
There are also lots of options for walkers, so collect the Walk and Trails Guide at the information centre that details the town’s tracks.
The Ovens River loop, a scenic walking or cycling trail, follows the picturesque Ovens — it can be started in town or added to the rail trail.
Take a leisurely stroll around the town following the Discovery Trail that starts at the information centre and has 14 interpretive panels about life in Myrtleford.
For a look at the area’s rich farming history, a wander down Whalleys Lane takes you by old equipment and tobacco sheds and small family vineyards and great views.
The Ovens takes centre stage during summer with lots of picnic areas, swimming spots and the chance to land a fish.
Visitors can cool off near Nimmos Bridge or shady Apex Park, both great for picnics and swimming.
Jubilee Park, on Happy Valley Creek, is a popular picnic spot on the Great Alpine Road with barbecue and picnic areas, a footbridge and the historic log tobacco kiln.
INTERACTIVE MAP: Daily top five activity recommendations
The trunk-and-roots sculpture on the Phoenix Tree at the town’s western entrance on the Great Alpine Road, was carved by Hans Knorr.
And history lovers will enjoy a visit to the Old School Museum that traces the town’s past.
When gold was discovered in the Buckland Valley in the 1850s, thousands of diggers had to cross Myrtle Creek on their way to the goldfields and a small town, later called Myrtleford, developed.
The Redform Hill Lookout, just a five-minute drive from the town centre, offers commanding views over the area and surrounding valleys.
The town was once known for the tobacco industry that closed in 2006.
That enterprise has been replaced by grapes, hops, walnuts, chestnuts, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, apples, kiwi fruit, olives and vegetables.
On the food front, drop into the Myrtleford Butter Factory, the red-brick factory, dating from the early 1900s.
There, you can see butter being churned and enjoy some of the tasty treats. It’s open seven days a week and there are tours on Thursdays from 11am.
The Pumpkin Seed Factory at Ovens, a short drive from Myrtleford, produces the first and only Australian-grown pumpkin seeds, which are delicious — especially the chocolate-coated ones. It is closed on Wednesdays.
There are several wineries in the area, including Gapsted Wines.
It has cellar-door sales and great dining and spectacular views across the vines towards the rolling hills and bushland of the alpine valleys.
I’ve just scrambled up one of the rounded granite boulders in Mount Buffalo National Park and been well rewarded.
The views across the plateau are amazing with giant granite tors rising in front of you, overlooking large expanses of snow-grass plains and deep gorges.
As we munch on a sandwich, we spot crimson rosellas and gang-gang cockatoos watching us watching them.
History reveals the massive mountain was once three times its present height and it has taken 360 million years of natural forces to create this landscape.
The tors and boulders have also been shaped by heat, wind, plants and ice, creating interesting and eye-catching silhouettes.
Named by Hume and Hovell because it resembled a sleeping giant buffalo, it is one of Victoria’s oldest national parks.
The historic Mount Buffalo Chalet was built in 1910 accommodating overnight guests and has had a chequered history. Closed for some years it is undergoing a redevelopment project for completion in 2015.
Walking is the best way to discover the wonders of Mount Buffalo and there are more than 90 kilometres of tracks traversing sub-alpine plant communities and landscapes.
The park offers walking opportunities for almost all levels of fitness and experience, with opportunities to view and explore giant granite tors, deep gorges, waterfalls and snow gum woodlands.
Choose a gentle walk or rigorous hike from more than 90 kilometres of walking track, including the gorge heritage walk, a loop walk starting in the gorge day visitor area near the chalet. Follow a series of interpretive signs that lead, first, to some of the most spectacular views of the gorge and Crystal Brook Falls and then loop back to explore the area’s history and beauty.
Great for kids is the one-kilometre, 30-minute old galleries walk, a short walk winding through the galleries, which are a jumble of large granite boulders, forming impressive passages. An adventure for kids of all ages with no time for boredom.
Mount Buffalo has also been known for years as a natural island in the sky because of its rich range of plants and animals.
If you are lucky, you may see a lyrebird, wombats, swamp wallabies and lizards.
Lake Catani, located within Mount Buffalo National Park, 28 kilometres from Porepunkah, is a great spot for swimming, canoeing and camping.
Lake Buffalo, a man-made lake on the Buffalo River is another picturesque spot for swimming, fishing, picnics, boating and water skiing.
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