Bright by name, bright by nature. The picturesque Victorian township of Bright is an autumnal paradise set afire with 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 abundant cheese board. We travelled to Bright one week before the gala weekend, which is usually held in the final weekend of April. Good timing combined with a rainy weather forecast meant that the town was relatively quiet, making our weekend trip all the more tranquil.
We packed up the car with a boot full of good food and set off from Melbourne on a Friday afternoon, which 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. We made sure to leave early on Sunday to enjoy the views on our way home, stopping along the way to explore the neighbouring villages of Myrtleford and Beechworth.
The Bright Autumn Festival is a celebration of the fall foliage and seasonal produce grown in 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. There is a scenic path along the Ovens River through the Bicentennial Park. The Ginger Baker was the perfect place to stop for a Chai Latte after our walk, taking a moment to warm ourselves by their wood fire. 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 stayed outside the township of Bright, preferring the peace and tranquility of nearby Mount Beauty in the Kiewa Valley. We rented a cosy country house called Ariane, nestled amongst lush Australian bushland at the base of Victoria’s highest mountain, Mount Bogong.
We experienced a lot of rain during our stay, but this was a blessing as it released the most fragrant perfume of eucalyptus, melaleuca, wild mint, lemon myrtle and tree bark. In between rain showers we took long walks and discovered kangaroos and wallabies feeding on nearby paddocks, waking early each morning to the chortling of the native Willie Wagtails, Cockatoos, and Kookaburras.
As a party of four, our little country cabin was the perfect size with two bedrooms. We spent most of our time outdoors by the roaring fireplace where we could enjoy the fresh alpine air and roast chestnuts or star gaze at the constellations under the crystal clear night skies. Without the light pollution of the city the sky twinkles 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. Looking at the stars certainly helps to put everything into perspective. As the wise owl Virginia Woolf once said, “when you consider things like the stars, our affairs don’t seem to matter very much”
When I stay in nature I prefer to sleep early and wake with the light to connect 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 perfect fusion of morning mist and warm hues from the rising sun.
If you are interested in a gorgeous autumnal weekend, Bright is the answer. You can stay at Ariane, which is easily booked online through Booking.com – just be sure to book early because Bright gets busy in peak foliage season, especially during the Bright Autumn Festival.