Where’s Bright, you ask? Beats me! To be honest, I’m still not really sure (I’m a terrible road trip passenger). BUT if you’re traveling to Australia and looking for a quaint little town nestled in the foothills of the mountains, overflowing with Autumn colour and community spirit, then you just may be in luck.
If you’ve never traveled to Australia, it’s easy to believe that it’s all sun-baked red desert and oddly shaped opera houses. Believe me, I was just as surprised to discover that Australia is also blessed with lush forests and -as I discovered on our recent trip to Bright- dreamy Autumnal getaways!
Located in North-Eastern Victoria, a few hours drive from Melbourne, Bright acts as the gateway to the Alpine National Parks (or what Australian’s consider ‘alpine’. Bless their cotton softs). With a teeny tiny population of just over 2,000 people, I wasn’t holding my breath for anything more than a rustic getaway with maybe some decent fish n’ chips from the local. Boy, was I wrong!
For a tiny little town, Bright is cool.
We arrived in the final weekend of their annual ten-day Autumn Festival, and I can best describe the vibe as ‘Gilmore Girls Stars Hollow’. There was a riotous display of autumn foliage. There were market stalls. There was a town crier. There was a brass band. Seriously, I was in heaven.
If community spirit isn’t your thing (you grinch), there’s still something in Bright for everyone. For starters, this little town has a serious taste for the finer things in life. After the Boy reluctantly indulged my passion for parades (did I mention the brass band??) we decided to indulge one of his passions by checking out Reed & Co., Bright’s very own gin distillery!
That is to say – gin distillery slash COFFEE BAR. Check out that Keep Cup range!
The environs were as rustically chic as the best Melbourne hipster bar could hope for, and since I was appropriately rugged up (your girl gets COLD), we settled on an outside table-slash-crate for a ‘gin & tonic flight’. That’s right – not three different gins, but three different tonics, with three different garnishes to bring out the various flavours in their own home-distilled brew…is it possible that the gin appreciation is rubbing off on me a little?
As we left Reed & Co. we discovered another great thing about Bright – everything you need is right there. Seriously! Throw a stone and you’ll find something delicious to indulge in, or something entertaining to do. As if to prove the point, we had only walked a few hundred metres before stumbling across the cellar door for one of the local winemakers, Billy Button Wines.
Since I’ve slowly moved from ‘whatever costs single digits on the bottom shelf’ to ‘occasionally I’ll agree to spend more than $15 on a bottle of wine’, I’ve started to enjoy wine tastings. The manager at Billy Button had so much knowledge about his stock and the produce in the area! The apparently endless supply of tasty cheeses to nibble on didn’t hurt either, so this surprise find is definitely on the list for our return visit.
If drinking isn’t your thing, this little town is still going to have you covered. Did I mention that there’s also two -count ’em, two- lolly shops in Bright? And if we hadn’t been side-tracked for so long by all of our indulgences, I definitely would have grabbed some bags of sugary goodness and whiled away a few hours in the cutest cinema ever:
We had perfect weather for our trip, but I don’t think I’ll be able to wait for a rainy day to experience a movie here the next time we come back
Bright is also a stop on the Murray-to-Mountains Rail Trail, which takes you along the old train routes through some of the most stunning scenery in Victoria. While we didn’t have time for any activities more physical than a sedate stroll down the main strip, I think even my lazy self could be talked into giving this a go, considering the many potential gourmet distractions along the route. Tour de Vines, anyone?
Instead of a bike ride, we opted to curl up by the fire and read for a few hours (is anyone surprised? This was a holiday after all), before rolling our almost catatonically-relaxed selves out of the front door and down the road to the local – the Wandi Pub. By this point I was starting to think that it’s actually unfair that one tiny little town can have so much good. The Wandi Pub was the perfect mix of the cozy, rough-around-the-edges locals of my homeland, with the menu of a much classier joint – chickpea dahl or ox-tail stew, anyone?
Not only was the food amazing, the waitress was very excited to show me the delivery that had just arrived – paper straws! C’mon Bright, how do you do it?
If none of the above has been enough to tempt you to venture a few hours from Melbourne on your next Australian trip, then I’m going to leave you with this-
How beautiful is this!
Running right through town is a stunning natural water-way is just begging for a picnic and a warm summers day. There’s even a water-slide and a natural diving hole! And if that doesn’t convince you that Bright is worth the trip, then I’m throwing my hands in the air. Off to a rustic little chalet in France with you! (actually, that sounds really good – can I come?)
Until that little chalet appears, you’ll find me sitting at my desk and dreaming about the next long weekend I can sneak back to Bright. Are you in?