Bright by name, bright by nature. The picturesque township of Bright is an autumnal paradise set afire with the colours of the changing season every April, offering mild sunny days and cosy evenings just perfect for a smoky wood fire, glass of red, and overflowing cheese board. We travelled to Bright one week before the gala weekend, which is usually held in the final weekend of the April. This meant that the town was relatively quiet and not buzzing with too many visitors.
We packed our car up with plenty of food and set off from Melbourne on a Friday afternoon, the drive took around four hours with a dinner stop. We left far too late in the day for such a long drive and found ourselves driving mostly in the dark, missing the spectacular landscapes along the way, so we made sure to leave early on the Sunday night to enjoy the views on our way home, stopping along the way in some lovely country towns. The journey is just as important as the destination in this context, and I recommend allowing some extra time to explore the neighbouring villages, such as Myrtleford and Beechworth.
The Bright Autumn Festival is hailed as a celebration of the wonderful autumn colours and seasonal produce of the valleys of Victoria’s Alpine High Country. There is a focus on entertainment with special art exhibitions, live music, theatrical performances, and markets. The festival also celebrates local food, such as the Wandiligong Nut Festival and the Buckland Valley Autumn Harvest, where you can purchase locally grown chestnuts, food and wine.
Aside from the beautiful European trees, Bright is a lovely country township with only 2000 residents. You are warmly greeted upon arrival by a tunnel of trees that lead into the centre of town. We enjoyed taking a walk along the Ovens River through the Bicentennial Park and stopping for a Chai Latte at the Ginger Baker. Afterwards, we meandered through the quiet tree lined streets, savoured an ice cream from the ice creamery, and had a potter around the bookshop.
We elected to stay outside the township of Bright, preferring the peace and tranquility of nearby Mount Beauty in the Kiewa Valley. We stayed in a beautiful country house called Ariane, nestled amongst lush Australian bushland at the base of Victoria’s highest mountain, Mount Bogong. As a party of four, our little country house was the perfect size with two cosy bedrooms with large soft beds. We spent most of our time outdoors by the roaring fireplace where we could enjoy the fresh alpine air and roast chestnuts while star gazing at the constellations under the clear night skies. Without the light pollution of the city the sky twinkled with a billion stars not usually seen at home, it was absolutely spectacular. I have always believed that the stars are a special reminder that we are all just a tiny speck in the universe and the little things that we worry about in our daily lives are minuscule in comparison to the night sky.
We experienced a lot of rain during our stay, but this was a blessing as it released the most fragrant perfume of eucalyptus, melaleuca, tea tree, boronia blossom, wild mint, lemon myrtle and tree bark. In between rain showers we took long walks and discovered large troops of kangaroos and wallabies feeding on nearby paddocks, and woke early each morning to the chortling of the native Willie Wagtails, Cockatoos, and Kookaburras.
When I stay in nature I love to sleep and wake with the light to reconnect with the environment. I arose early on our first morning to photograph the township and area surrounding Mount Beauty and I was bestowed with the most perfect fusion of morning mist and warm hues from the rising sun.
On our way home we stopped for lunch in Glenrowan, famously known as the site of the last siege and capture of Australian bushranger and outlaw Ned Kelly. One site you will not miss is the 6 metre tall statue of Ned Kelly suited up in his iconic bulletproof armour guarding the township with a rifle.