Sitting snugly in a lush, tranquil valley, surrounded by historic villages and soaring mountains is the picturesque town of Bright in Victoria.
It is shaded by oaks and eucalypts, maples and elms, with fresh, clear water polishing the river stones as it tumbles down from the alpine peaks into the meandering rivers and creeks.
This spectacular setting draws you outside into the sunshine to breathe in the crisp air and enjoy the endless outdoor activities and things to do in Bright Victoria.
Bright is the perfect spot for a country getaway. Base yourself here and you’ll be kept busy with fun things to do both in the town itself or within a short bike ride or drive.
- Map of Bright Vic and surrounds
- Best time to visit Bright
- 21 fun things to do in Bright Victoria
- What to do in Bright
- Wandiligong (10 min drive from Bright)
- Porepunkah (10 min drive from Bright)
- Eurobin (20 min drive from Bright)
- Harrietville (20 min drive from Bright)
- Mt Buffalo (40 min drive from Bright)
- Further afield
- Where to eat in Bright, Victoria
- Where is the best coffee in Bright?
- Which Bright café is the most awesome?
- Which is the best Bright pub?
- Bright pizza suggestions
Map of Bright Vic and surrounds
Bright, Victoria is a 3.5 hour drive north-east of Melbourne and almost 7 hours south-west of Sydney in the Alpine High Country.
Porepunkah and Wandiligong are less than 10 min away, Harrietville is 20 min away and Mt Buffalo, Milawa, Beechworth and Mt Hotham are within an hour’s drive.
Best time to visit Bright
Autumn is the most popular time to visit Bright to enjoy its transformation into a carpet of autumn colour. The days tend to be clear and dry with temperatures averaging 21˚c.
Summer is very popular, especially over the school holidays, with warm, sunny days averaging 28˚c.
It’s a convenient place to base yourself in winter, within easy reach of a number of snowfields. Bring your winter woollies with night time temperatures averaging 1˚c and daytime 12˚c.
Spring brings a return to the mild temperatures of autumn with daytime temperatures averaging 20˚c.
21 fun things to do in Bright Victoria
The practical beauty of Bright is the excellent range of cafes, shops and a Woolworths conveniently positioned within a handful of streets. An easily walkable town.
The riverside location means shady parkland and playgrounds are right behind the shops. And hop on your bike or in the car and there’s lots more fun, family-friendly activities nearby.
What to do in Bright
The heart of the town is Howitt Park on the banks of the Ovens River. Lots of fabulous shops, cafes and pubs back onto it (see Where to Eat below). The bookshop, cinema and library are lovely options, especially on a wet day, or head out exploring by foot or bike along the riverside trails or Rail Trail.
There’s a number of caravan parks nearby for fabulous family-friendly accommodation (see our review of the beautiful Big 4 Bright here), as well as adorable cottages and modern townhouses throughout the town.
1. Howitt Park and Bright Splash Park
Visitors are drawn to Howitt Park and you’ll find lots of family groups here on weekends. The riverside paths of Canyon Walk and Cherry Walk go through it, there’s a large adventure playground and endless grassy parkland to spread a picnic blanket and have a BBQ.
On a sunny day, especially in summer, the Bright Splash Park will entertain kids young and old for hours. Hire a kayak to explore at water level or hurtle down one of the giant slides to land in the river with a splash.
The vibe here is joyous, with kids on bikes, family photos and selfies galore, and the mouth-watering smells from food wafting past.
Website: Howitt Park
2. Bright Book Shop
This is one of those cosy bookshops with so many excellent choices on the shelves that browsing is bliss. Bright’s not a souvenir-y type of place, but the books we bought here will hold all our happy memories.
Website: Bright Bookshop
3. Cloud 9 Cinema
I would have loved to see Dumbo, but we couldn’t squeeze it in. Fantastic wet weather option though.
Website: Cloud 9 Cinema
4. Bright Library
We didn’t make it inside this gorgeous historic building, but it would have been handy for a wet day.
Website: Bright Library
5. Bright Autumn Festival
The Bright Autumn Festival celebrates this spectacular time of year in April and May. There’s lots of activities on in the area at this time, including markets, workshops and even an insta-meet and a fun run!
Website: Bright Autumn Festival
6. Riverside walks – Canyon Walk and Cherry Walk
Bikes and walkers share these well-used paths, yet mid-morning on a school holiday day I jogged the entire Cherry Walk (5 km) and saw no more than 10 people.
These walks are relaxing wanders, mostly flat with the odd short rise or set of stairs. Cross suspension bridges, hunt for platypuses or splash in the river along the way. Take a sketch book and pencils for an excuse to sit and rest amongst the trees or a towel to dry your feet after a paddle in the crystal clear water.
7. Murray to Mountains Rail Trail
We brought the kids’ bikes down with us, which was a brilliant decision since they loved riding around the caravan park every day. But David and I just hired bikes the day we rode the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail.
I am no cyclist, but David and the kids are super keen and this is one of the essential things to do in Bright. It is flat, easy riding on a dedicated paved track in the most beautiful surrounds. You will pass fields, golf courses, rivers, forests and cute country towns.
Hire a bike at CyclePath (we found them very helpful but try to book ahead), then head to the trail just around the corner.
Ride towards Porepunkah for a wonderfully picturesque journey to the Rail Trail Cafe. At only 6 km (it took us about half an hour), stop off for a coffee or meal, before exploring further or heading back. The Porepunkah pub is also a very popular option.
Website: Murray to Mountains Rail Trail
Wandiligong (10 min drive from Bright)
Taking the 5.5km Rail Trail to the picturesque, heritage listed village of Wandiligong (Wandi for short) is another highly family-friendly bike ride. And there’s heaps to do here for a tiny spot.
8. Wandiligong Maze, Mini Golf and Cafe
Have your own Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Triwizard Maze experience, with hedges stretching far above your head creating quite a dark and spooky feel inside. There’s escape doors if the exit is eluding you, so have a go with the kids or sit down with a coffee while they explore.
Mini-golf is always a laugh, the cafe is filled with pies, scones and jelly, and there’s a mini maze, which is perfectly kid-sized. The grounds are spacious, so pull up a chair under a tree and let the kids run free.
Website: Wandi Maze
9. Chestnut picking at Wandiful Produce
March and April are not only the ideal months to enjoy autumn colour, but they are also chestnut season. Head to Wandiful Produce in Wandiligong to have a go at picking your own.
They were already on the ground when we visited, but it was still fun hunting around for a spiky pod to open with our feet to find the chestnuts snuggled inside.
Website: Wandiful Produce
10. Wandiligong Autumn Craft & Produce Market
Visit this popular craft market in the historic Wandi Public Hall during the Bright Autumn Festival in April and May. It is open every day and showcases locally grown produce and hand crafted goods.
Website: Wandi Market
11. Wandiligong Nut Festival
If you’re in town around ANZAC Day, then check here for when this one-day festival is happening.
Celebrate the nut harvest with chestnut-, hazelnut- and walnut-based cooking and activities, plus craft stalls and plenty of local produce.
Website: Wandi Nut Festival
Porepunkah (10 min drive from Bright)
As previously mentioned, the Rail Trail Cafe and Pub are very popular spots in Porepunkah, but there are a couple of well-regarded wineries in the area too.
12. Ringer Reef winery
Take a bike ride or drive to this picturesque winery, which produces nine red, white, rose and sparkling varieties, including Italian styles like Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Montepulciano.
There’s plenty of room for the kids to run around while you sample these boutique hand-made wines.
Website: Ringer Reef winery
13. Boynton’s Feathertop winery
This is a spectacular winery with a restaurant, deli/cafe and playground. They aim for an unpretentious, family-friendly atmosphere, where you can enjoy the incredible natural beauty surrounded by Mt Buffalo, native forests and rolling hills.
They even have some absolutely stunning accommodation for 2-4 people.
Website: Feathertop Winery
Eurobin (20 min drive from Bright)
14. Red Stag deer farm
This animal petting farm has over 200 red deer, emus, ostriches & goats. Feed the deer or enjoy a meal at the game-focussed restaurant.
Website: Red Stag
Harrietville (20 min drive from Bright)
15. Harrietville Trout Farm
Visiting a trout farm is a great way to give fishing a go. The ponds are typically well stocked, so hopefully the excitement of catching fish will outweigh the boredom of waiting for it to happen.
Sadly we had no luck in the couple of hours we were there. After three weeks of school holidays and Easter stocks were low.
But it is a beautiful environment and it is very exciting (and a bit jealousy-inducing) when you see someone else catching a fish.
Website: Mountain Fresh Trout Farm
Mt Buffalo (40 min drive from Bright)
16. Mt Buffalo Chalet
Head straight for the Mt Buffalo Gorge car park, opposite the Chalet, to enjoy the spectacular lookouts and have a wander around the Chalet.
Unfortunately the Chalet has been closed for several years now. The facade has been maintained, but I suspect the rest of the building needs a lot of money spent on it to restore. I have lovely memories of lunch in the dining room with my grandparents when I was a kid.
Opened in 1910 it is a majestic building straight out of a bygone age. Read the plaques on the front windows to learn its history and peek through the windows into wood-panelled rooms with comfortable arm chairs set to enjoy the views.
17. Mt Buffalo walks
There’s a huge range of walks at various locations on Mt Buffalo, but taking one of those that begin at the Chalet car park is easy and convenient.
We took the Gorge Heritage Walk to Crystal Brook Falls, which was hilly but not difficult and had lovely views. It’s part of a longer walk, so you can turn around and return whenever you like, but we probably spent about half an hour exploring.
18. Go abseiling with Bright Adventure Company
We saw these guys taking a family abseiling while we were at Mt Buffalo and I was very impressed with them. The instructor sounded very encouraging and supportive as he guided the kids down a short drop, so if you’re keen to get adventurous then I would definitely give them a go.
They also offer climbing, caving and kayaking for all levels of experience.
Website – Bright Adventure Company
With a long weekend or week in Bright, I don’t think you’ll be looking for additional things to fill your time, but it you’re keen, there’s lots more options.
19. Beechworth (45 min drive from Bright)
Beechworth is another wonderful Victorian town, which is worth a separate trip. Like Bright there’s several towns within half an hour, like Glenrowan, Chiltern and Yackandandah, as well as stunning scenery like Woolshed Falls.
But it is only about 45min from Bright, so definitely within easy reach.
There’s lots of Ned Kelly and gold rush era history here, plus fabulous food and homewares shopping. Read about our last visit to Beechworth here.
Coming down from Sydney, Beechworth was almost on the way, so we popped in to the original Beechworth Bakery for lunch.
20. Brown Brothers Milawa winery (45 min drive from Bright)
Brown Brothers is one of the most well-known names in Australian wine. Indeed the Brown family has been making wine in Milawa since 1889.
Sample some wine, have a meal at Patricia’s or check out one of the events happening on most weekends.
Website: Brown Brothers Milawa Vineyard
21. Mt Hotham (1 hour drive from Bright)
Mt Hotham is a popular destination in winter when you can enjoy the snow facilities. It was almost an eerie experience when we visited, because it was so quiet and still.
You feel like you’re on top of the world and very removed from the rest of civilisation.
And the views are breath-taking.
Where to eat in Bright, Victoria
The food in Bright is excellent pretty much everywhere. Proximity to Melbourne means standards are extremely high.
Where is the best coffee in Bright?
Sixpence Coffee is produced locally and served in many of the cafes and pubs in the area, such as Ginger Baker in Bright and the Snowline Hotel in Harrietville. Or you can enjoy a coffee direct from the producers at their Sixpence Coffee cafe in Bright.
It is arguably the best coffee in Bright.
Website: Sixpence Coffee
Alternatively, my favourite coffee was at Blackbird Cafe. I’m no coffee connoisseur, but I believe they use Genovese Coffee and I loved it.
Which Bright café is the most awesome?
Blackbird Cafe is my favourite for its excellent coffee, incredible all-day breakfasts and friendly service. It’s very kid-friendly with couches and baskets of toys, ideal for a coffee while the kids play.
My home-made baked beans with pesto toast, bacon, rocket and feta was scrumptious! I wish Blackbird was closer to home. I would be a regular!
Website: Blackbird Cafe
Ginger Baker was where my morning Sixpence Coffee came from as it’s a short walk from the Big 4 where we were staying. It operates as an upmarket cafe during the day, then on Friday and Saturday nights it turns into a wine bar.
Website: Ginger Baker
For a super cool, licensed burger place open afternoon and evenings, check out Tomahawks.
Website: Tomahawks Bright
Gum Tree Pies
Ultra casual with fantastic pies (fabulous pastry!), the original shop is in nearby Yackandandah, but they are a welcome addition to Bright.
Website: Gum Tree Pies
Beechworth Bakery in Bright
Beechworth Bakery has long expanded from its Beechworth flagship store and become quite a chain. There are two stores in Bright and their pies are excellent.
They are also open later than many other cafes that close around 4pm. We picked some up to take back to the cabin for dinner on a couple of nights.
Which is the best Bright pub?
The Bright Brewery is something of a phenomenon in Bright.
It is a stylish, modern building with both indoor and outdoor seating. The big bonus for families is that the adventure playground in Howitt Park is directly behind the pub. With no fences to separate the two it is ideal for parents to sit and relax at the pub while still being able to supervise their kids either at the playground or running around on the grass.
The food is excellent and a cut above standard pub food. You won’t find a chicken parmagiana here, but you will find a range of burgers, a Sri Lankan chicken curry, Harrietville trout and slow roasted beef riblets. My veggie burger was delicious! They also produce a range of craft beers which we enjoyed.
Service was friendly and quick, but keep in mind that the Bright Brewery is incredibly popular and therefore difficult to get into. They take a small number of bookings, but otherwise it’s first in best dressed. I suggest arriving by 11.30am for lunch. That’s about when we arrived (on a school holiday week day) and the tables around us filled soon after we sat down.
Website: Bright Brewery
Snowline Hotel, Harrietville
The Snowline Hotel in Harrietville is a snug spot for an evening meal with the lights and fires going inside and out. There’s boardgames and a billiard table inside and hammocks and beanbags outside.
The chicken parma and Alpine Tasting Plate are hugely popular, but the fish and chips was very good too.
They also have excellent budget accommodation.
Website: Snowline Hotel
The Wandi Pub is my tip for a day time visit and best on a fine day. There is not a lot of indoor seating, but they have a huge beer garden with a stage and lots of space.
It was very pleasant enjoying a local beer with David while the kids played.
Website: The Wandi Pub
Bright pizza suggestions
Il Centro Pizza House
We got take-away pizza one night from Il Centro. It was crazy busy (50 min wait for our order), but the pizza was pretty good.
Website: Il Centro Pizza House
The best Bright pizza we had was from the mobile wood-fired ovens of Woodfire Desire. They visit the Big 4 Bright that we stayed at once a week, but I believe are located somewhere different every night. Ask at your accommodation to find out.
Website: Woodfire Desire
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