I love everything about Bright. The small town in Victoria’s High Country is where I’ve based myself during summer for the last few years and I can safely say it’s one of the best places to explore in Victoria. There’s an endless amount of things to do in Bright. From hiking to paragliding, and cosy cafes to riverside picnics, you can go from adrenaline-fuelled adventures to indulgent food coma in a day.
The town offers something for everyone. No matter what kind of holiday you’re looking for, Bright should definitely be high on your list in Victoria. It’s a place that you can easily spend plenty of time, whether you’re going for a weekend or a longer getaway. The pretty place will have you planning a permanent move to the Victorian High Country.
Here’s a look at all the best things to do in Bright covering all four seasons. You’ll find activities for everyone, including the best day trips to take if you have extra time up your sleeve.
Why Visit Bright in Victoria’s High Country?
Bright is one of the best towns in Victoria. And I don’t say that lightly. Located on the banks of the Ovens River in the High Country, it’s undoubtedly one of the prettiest towns that you’ll likely visit. With the flowing river through town, lots of attractive shops and cafes, and plenty of walking trails and lovely parks for a picnic, it’s incredibly appealing at every turn.
It’s also the adventure capital of the state, with an impressive amount of outdoor activities finding their home in Bright. From mountain biking to hiking and paragliding, and skiing in winter, there are endless options to get outdoors and into nature.
Not only that, but it also has plenty of cosy cafes, boutique stores, and some great cellar doors, breweries, and farm gates offering lots of goodies. You can easily spend plenty of time relaxing and wandering the streets, if getting active is not your thing.
There really isn’t anything bad to say about the town. It’s perfect for virtually all different people with different interests. From families to solo adventurers and grey nomads, it attracts a variety of people from around the country.
Of course, with all these things going for it, the town does get incredibly busy. On weekends throughout the year, the town heaves with people, both locals and visitors alike. School holidays are usually the busiest times, closely followed with basically any weekend in summer and winter. Still, the buzzing vibe only adds to the appeal, and you’ll soon realise why people often return to Bright more than once.
How to Get There
Bright is located in the Victorian High Country, about 325km northeast of Melbourne. The 4-hour drive via the Hume Highway takes you through Seymour, Benalla and Glenrowan before turning off to Milawa, Myrtleford, and eventually onto Bright.
Where to Stay in Bright
If you’re planning on spending a weekend in Bright, there are plenty of accommodation choices. Whether you’re looking for a cosy B&B or a family-friendly caravan park, the town has options for everyone. Check out some of these recommendations:
Edlin House | Located on the Great Alpine Road, this is a great choice for a mid-range stay in Bright. They offer a range of double rooms surrounding a nice garden with barbecue facilities. They also have free bike rental for guests. Rooms starting from $220 per night. Check it out here.
Ashwood Cottages | Just a 2-minute drive from Bright centre, this mid-range property offers cosy one-bedroom cottages. Located amongst a pretty garden, the self-contained cottages include a spa bath and free bike rental. They start from around $250 per night. Check it out here.
The View Bright | If you’re looking to splurge on a really nice place, The View have luxury one-bedroom apartments. Offering mountain views through the large front windows, a free-standing bath, outdoor balcony, and self-catering facilities, it’s one of the best places to stay. Apartments start from $580 per night for two people. Check it out here.
Bright Avenue Motor Inn | If you’re travelling on a budget, then the motor inn is a great choice. They offer twin rooms and family rooms with ensuite bathrooms and kitchenettes. They also have an outdoor pool. Rooms start from $160 per night for two people. Check it out here.
Bright Riverside Holiday Park | Looking for a family-friendly caravan park? There are plenty of choices in Bright, but I really like this one. Located right on the river opposite Howitt Park, it’s walking distance to the main street. They have unpowered camping sites from $40 per night, while their trendy Alpine Pods go from $200 per night. They also have 3-bedroom villas for groups from $320 per night. Check it out here.
Want more? Check out this post: 12 Best Places to Stay in Bright
Best Things to Do in Bright
If you’re looking for ways to fill in your weekend in Bright, then there’s so much to choose from. Whether you’re the adventure-type looking for an adrenaline rush or heart-pumping activity, or rather browse through the shops and relax on the river, here are the best things to do in Bright for all seasons of the year.
Explore the Canyon Walk along the Ovens River
Easily one of the best things to do in Bright, the Canyon Walk is a lovely introduction to the local nature as it winds its way up and along the Ovens River. The family-friendly walk begins in Howitt Park and runs along the southern bank of the river before crossing a bridge and heading back along the northern bank.
The full circuit is almost 5km, but there is an option to take another bridge which reduces the loop to around 2.5km. The longer loop includes some rougher track and takes you past a small canyon carved by the Ovens River, frequented by early miners.
Otherwise, you also have the option to turn left on the southern bank and connect onto the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail which will take you back into town.
Float Down the Ovens River
A popular summer pastime in Bright is floating down the Ovens River. You’ll see people of all ages bringing their floating tubes or other inflatables to head down the river. You can also kayak the river, although there are plenty of rocks to avoid when the level drops in summer.
Just remember you’ll have to get out and walk back up the river, unless you can get someone to pick you up!
Have a Picnic in Howitt Park
Howitt Park is a buzzing centre of activity in Bright. The park on the banks of the Ovens River is the perfect spot to chill out on a Sunday. The park has a large playground for kids and the Splash Park can be found at the eastern end of the park.
You’ll find picnic tables scattered around the grass, or you can easily bring a picnic rug and set up under the shade of one of the trees near the river. On a warm day, it’s a popular place filled with people relaxing on the grass, but you can easily walk up the footpath and find space.
The park is also where you’ll find the monthly Bright market mentioned below.
Ride or Walk the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail
As one of Victoria’s many rail trails, the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail is one of the most popular things to do in Bright. The whole network of trails stretch more than 100km from Wangaratta to Bright, with a couple of extensions connecting the trail to Beechworth, Milawa, and Harrietville.
It’s one of the most satisfying ways to explore the region, with so many towns to stop at en route for a coffee, lunch, or to wander the streets. The entire trail is sealed and off the road, so it’s safe for all experience levels and ages. It runs right through Bright, so you can cycle, walk or run as much or as little as you like.
You can find a map and more information on the whole trail here. If you’re looking to hire a bike to ride, then the team at Cyclepath can help, with a range of bikes available from $40 for a half-day hire.
Go Tandem Paragliding
If you spend a bit of time in Bright, you’ll likely notice gliders in the sky often on a clear day. I recently discovered that in fact the town is home to some of the best flying in Victoria. With access to the mountains within a short flight and a thriving paragliding community, it’s the ideal spot to go for a tandem or enrol in a course.
There are around four schools and commercial companies in town, with more further afield. Otherwise, if you just want to see what it’s all about, head to the landing zone, known as Mystic Flight Park, which is just outside of Bright on the road to Wandiligong. If it’s a good flying day, then you’ll find a bunch of cars parked up either waiting for a flight or just landing from one.
The take-off and glider launch is up on top of Mystic Mountain, where you’ll see a clearing in the pine trees. The road up to the mountain is a dirt road and best reserved for people intending to fly, but you can watch from below.
I was lucky enough to score a tandem flight with someone I met on top of Mount Bogong. It was a real thrill and something I would definitely do again!
Take in the View from Huggins Lookout
With so many towering mountains around there’s no shortage of good viewpoints. However, if you’re looking for a more accessible lookout that doesn’t require a full day of hiking, Huggins Lookout is one of the best in Bright. The short 1km walk up to Huggins Lookout begins from the corner of Deacon Avenue and Zivan Court.
You can also technically drive up to the lookout via Huggins Road, but it’s a dirt road that can be a bit rough in places. The short walk is definitely more rewarding.
Try Mountain Biking at Mystic Mountain
If riding on a rail trail seems a little boring, then head to Mystic Mountain Bike Park just south of town where you’ll find over 50km worth of trails. From beginner trails to double-black diamond downhills, the community-led park is within an active regenerative pine plantation.
The Mystic Park website has all the information you need to know, including a trails map, where you can hire bikes, and how to organise shuttles.
Have Brunch at Wild Thyme Café
Location: 3 Ireland St, Bright VIC 3741
Hands down the best cafe in Bright and definitely high on my list for best cafes in Victoria! Wild Thyme Cafe is a vegan, plant-based cafe serving up some of the best meals and coffee in town. They’re also gluten free friendly, with almost all the meals being GF already or having a GF option.
Even if you’re not into vegan food, trust me you’ll still want to head there for a meal. I’ve brought meat-lovers and non-fussed eaters to this cafe and they’ve all left incredibly satisfied and impressed. The meal sizes are huge!
They’re open daily from 8am to 2pm, with an all day breakfast and lunch menu. Pretty much everything on the menu is delicious, but highlights for me include Notcha Average Nachos, Buckwheat Banana Pancakes, and BBQ Vegan Burger. They also have an extensive drinks list, including yummy smoothies.
Located up on one of the main streets, it gets very busy on weekends, but if you arrive early you should be able to get a seat. Don’t forget to leave with one of their delicious vegan, gluten free slices and cakes from the cabinet!
Pick up Local Goods at the Bright Market (Third Saturday of the Month)
The monthly market in Bright is known as the Make It Bake It Grow It Market. It’s held on the third Saturday of every month, in Howitt Park. It’s open from 9am to 1pm, throughout the year no matter the season.
It has a nice balance between food, produce, locally made crafts, and souvenirs. You can pick up fresh veggies, local honey, handmade soap, original photography and art, handmade ceramics, fresh baked sourdough, children’s wooden toys, and beautiful jewellery.
It’s a great spot for a morning stroll, to pick up coffee and breakfast. The buckwheat crepe stall is my favourite option for a snack.
Explore the Boutique Shops in Bright
Amongst the cafes and restaurants, you’ll find some really trendy boutique stores. From homewares to fashion, it’s the perfect place to enjoy some window shopping.
Some highlights include Star Road Trader for shoes and fashion, Bowerbird for homewares, One Zach for surf clothes, and The Bright Bookshop.
For all sorts of camping and hiking gear, you can also head to Bright Outdoor Centre, which has basically everything you’ll need and friendly staff willing to help.
Have a Drink at Bright Brewery
A must-do in Bright, the Bright Brewery is one of the icons of town. Unmissable as you drive through town, the huge place is open everyday from 11.30am to 10pm.
With indoor and outdoor seating, there’s plenty of room for all different group sizes. The outdoor seating is spread out around the building and onto the lawn, with a back deck area overlooking the river too. On weekends, they often have live music in the afternoon and evening, when the place is packed full of visitors and locals.
It’s the best place to sit and have a relaxing drink in the garden. If you’re a beer drinker, you’ll have an overwhelming number of choices with their award-winning craft brews. Plus, they also have plenty of wine and spirits as well.
If you’re staying for a meal, they have wood fired pizzas and burgers, but the highlight for me was the burrito bowl, which is a popular choice.
Take the Kids to the Splash Park
If you’re taking the whole family to Bright in summer, then the Splash Park right on the Ovens River in town is the best free entertainment. The local waterpark is popular with kids all weekend long, with plenty of green grass and shade around the edge to sit back and enjoy a picnic or read a book.
Further Afield: Best Things to Do Around Bright on a Day Trip
If you’ve got time to head further afield and looking for some day trips from Bright, then there’s an endless array of choices. From short drives to waterfalls to nearby towns and ski resorts, here are the best things to do around Bright.
Drive the Great Alpine Road
Certainly one of the best road trips in Victoria, the Great Alpine Road winds its way from the coast in Gippsland Lakes all the way up through the Victorian Alps and ending in Wangaratta. It’s Australia’s highest year-round accessible sealed road, as it reaches it’s highest point at Mount Hotham Alpine Resort.
The road travels right through Bright on its way through the Ovens Valley and connects towns like Harrietville and Myrtleford. The drive from Bright to Hotham is certainly one of the more scenic sections of the road, and makes for a nice day trip from Bright.
Once you arrive at Hotham, there are walks, lookouts, and bike trails to explore if you have time. In winter, the road is still open but you should expect snow and ice and snow chains must be carried during the official snow season from June to October.
Hike up Mount Feathertop
If you’re a keen hiker and ready for one of the best views in Victoria, if not Australia, then a hike up to Mount Feathertop is a must. The second highest peak in the state rises up near Mt Hotham and can be seen as you drive the Great Alpine Road between Bright and Harrietville.
There are multiple routes to reach the summit. However, the most popular choice is the Razorback Track as it follows the spectacular ridge from near Hotham to the top of the peak. It’s a decent walk though of around 22km return, so you’ll need to allow plenty of time to return in a day.
If you’ve got extra time up your sleeve and don’t mind carrying camping gear, you can also do Mt Feathertop as an overnight hike, camping at Federation Hut just below the summit.
Other routes to reach Mt Feathertop include two trails from near Harrietville. Bungalow Spur is a popular choice, and the Northwest Spur is a lesser used but equally incredible hiking trail. Both of these options offer a much steeper climb though, so you’ll want to be fairly fit before attempting them.
If you want to know more about hiking Mount Feathertop, I have a comprehensive guide to all the different trails here.
Go Skiing at Hotham Ski Resort
Distance from Bright: 55km on Great Alpine Road
More of a winter person? Mount Hotham Alpine Resort is considered one of the best snow destinations in the country. It’s the highest ski resort in Victoria and offers both beginner and advanced skiing and snowboarding slopes.
The resort has 3 lifts including Dinner Plain down the road and downhill runs of up to 2.5km. There’s also over 35km of cross-country ski trails. This makes it perfect for all different winter activities. From backcountry touring to snowboarding, the slopes are absolutely packed in the height of winter which runs from June to October.
However, it’s not overly budget-friendly. You have to have a Resort Entry Permit which is around $60 for a day (these fees don’t apply in summer for hiking). Then, ski lift day passes start from around $125 per adult. There are multi-day passes available as well, if you plan on spending more time up there. You can buy passes on the Mt Hotham website.
Cycle to the Small Town of Harrietville
Distance from Bright: 24km on Great Alpine Road
Harrietville is the smaller and much quieter version of Bright. Located further along the Great Alpine Road at the foot of Mount Feathertop and Mount Hotham, the mountain town is a lovely place to visit.
Located on the Ovens River, it’s a very picturesque place with plenty of picnic spots and the Great Valley Trail which runs all the way to Bright. Whether you drive or cycle to Harrietville, it’s worth stopping at the Harrietville Bakery which is one of the best classic country bakeries you’ll find in the High Country. But they’re only open from Thursday to Sunday so time your visit right.
The town also has a couple of great pubs. The Harrietville Hotel Motel is the perfect spot to grab a drink and a meal with live music on throughout the week and weekend.
Explore the Shops in Myrtleford
Distance from Bright: 32km on Great Alpine Road
A friendly town at the heart of the agricultural region of the High Country, Myrtleford is another great place to explore for a day from Bright. Located on the Great Alpine Road and the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail, you can either cycle or drive into town.
It’s surprisingly the perfect spot for some op shopping and digging for antiques. Vintage and Salvage Co or Red Ramia Trading are great for antiques, while there are also a couple of op shops, including MYRT’ Op Shop and Alpine Health Hospital Op Shop.
You’ll find that Myrtleford is also a lot quieter than Bright, even on weekends. The cafes are a great spot to get away from the crowds and enjoy the company of locals.
Drive to The Horn at Mount Buffalo National Park
Distance from Bright: 42km via Great Alpine Road and Mount Buffalo Road
Just a short drive from Bright is Mount Buffalo National Park. This is one of the most underrated national parks in Victoria. The plateau is characterised by massive granite tors and boulders, flowing waterfalls, snow gum forests and panoramic views. It’s home to plenty of hiking trails and a great bush campground.
You could easily spend multiple days exploring Mount Buffalo, but if you’re looking for just a taste from Bright, The Horn Lookout is a real highlight. As the highest point in the park, you can drive most of the way to the carpark, which offers nice views in itself. Otherwise, a 500m climb gets you to the official lookout on top of the boulder stack.
It’s best at sunset or sunrise, when the panoramic view of the Aussie Alps really comes to life. Otherwise, it’s a beautiful drive to do at any time.
Read next: Best Hikes and Views at Mount Buffalo National Park
Cool Off in Ladies Bath and Eurobin Falls
Distance from Bright: 15km via Great Alpine Road and Mount Buffalo Road
At the base of the Mount Buffalo plateau is one of the most popular spots around Bright. Ladies Bath and Eurobin Falls are the first stop you’ll see as you enter the national park, with a couple of small carparks on the side of the road.
It’s a short walk from the carpark to Lady Bath Falls, a series of cascades and rock pools that are perfect for cooling off on a hot day. Further up the track, you’ll come to Eurobin Falls. There is a lower and upper section of the falls. People also find spots to go for a dip there, but be careful of slippery rocks and fast flowing water.
To reach the Upper Lookout of Eurobin Falls, it’s 1.5km return from the carpark. On hot days in summer, this gets incredibly crowded, so arrive early. Better yet, keep driving up Mount Buffalo Road and head to Rollasons Falls instead (a much quieter spot)!
Stop at the Australian Pumpkin Seed Factory at Pepo Farms
Distance from Bright: 25km on Great Alpine Road
On the Great Alpine Road near Mrytleford, a great foodie stop is at the Australian Pumpkin Seed Factory at Pepo Farms. They are the first and only producers of pumpkin seeds in Australia supplying other companies and food producers around the country with their high quality seeds.
Their farm shop offers an insight into the farm and it’s processing. The staff are always happy to give you a brief rundown on the farm and what they grow. You can also buy a range of products there, including their seeds, oils and other goodies. My favourites are the dark chocolate hazelnuts, and the high quality oils like almond oil.
Visit the Laidback Town of Mount Beauty
Distance from Bright: 32km via Tawonga Gap Road
Another pretty mountain town, Mount Beauty is a quaint spot at the southern end of the picturesque Kiewa Valley. Situated at the foot of Mount Bogong and Falls Creek, there’s plenty of natural beauty and outdoor activities to enjoy. It’s a very pretty spot, on a quieter and smaller scale to Bright, but with equally good cafes and shops to peruse.
Otherwise, cycling along the Kiewa River is a peaceful way to spend a weekend or try the Big Hill Mountain Bike Park. For something on foot, get your heart pumping as you climb Mount Bogong from Mountain Creek just out of town. As the state’s highest mountain, Bogong is a classic day hike or overnight hike in the alpine region.
Read more about hiking Mount Bogong here.
Discover the Local Gourmet Region in Milawa
Distance from Bright: 64km via Great Alpine Road and Snow Road
For more foodie delights, Milawa Gourmet Region is a must stop on your way to Bright. The small towns of Oxley, Milawa, Tarrawingee, Markwood and Whorouly along Snow Road make up the region, each offering farm gate sales, cafes, and wineries to hop between on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Some of the highlights include, Milawa Cheese Company, The Olive Shop & Provender, King River Cafe, and Milawa Bakery Cafe. It’s also connected to the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail, so you can easily work off all the food and wine you indulged in.
If you want to find out how to spend a weekend in Milawa, read my guide here.
Where to Next?
If you’re looking to explore more of regional Victoria, then check out some of my other guides here:
Great Ocean Road: Guide to the Ultimate Road Trip
Complete Guide to the Silo Art Trail in Northwest Victoria
A Local’s Guide to Warburton in the Yarra Valley
Travel Guide to the Grampians National Park
Complete Guide to Wilsons Prom National Park
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