The end of April is primetime for autumn colour in the King and Ovens Valleys in North Eastern Victoria. The van was packed up and we were off, heading north from Melbourne via the Melba Highway, passing through the wine producing region of the Yarra Valley and the township of Yarra Glen, then on to the grazing areas of the Goulburn Valley and the township of Yea. A coffee stop was called at Yarck, before then passing through the lakeside town of Bonnie Doon, passing over the dry Lake Eildon (well in the Bonnie Doon area at least) and on to Mansfield the gateway to the Victorian high country and the Ski resorts of Mount Buller and Mount Stirling, this is "Man from snowy river" country where Graziers would allow their cattle to graze during the summer months, as the weather cools the graziers would mount their horses and head in to the mountains and round up their cattle and bring them down to the low lands for the winter months. But this is not our destination for the weekend so we continued on along the Mansfield - Whitfield Road winding up in to the mountains and the town of Tolmie and then down into the King Valley and our lunch destination of the Whitfield Pub. The Whitfield pub had been highly recommended for lunch by friend's of ours, so it was a no brainer for our lunch stop. During the post war years many Italian migrants settled here as the climate was similar to parts of Italy, and with them they bought with them their wine producing skills and grapes, not to mention other agriculture and culinary skills. Today the King Valley is renowned as a premier wine producing region and a foodies paradise. The Whitfield pub is no exception owned and run by an Italian family and offering great Italian and European food and beers, and great locally grown and produced wines.
On a full stomach it was back into the van and down the road enjoying the vistas of vineyards in full autumn colour and the contrast of dry grazing properties enroute to Edi (mental note to self must comeback here and check out the camping here),Oxley, Milawa and Myrtleford.
The Myrtleford region used to be the home of tobacco farming in Victoria, but now days farming of wine grapes, hops, berries, walnuts, olives and beef has taken over.
From Myrtleford we continued along the Great Alpine Road following the Ovens Valley towards the Australian Alps, we are getting close to our destination, with Mount Buffalo towering on our right we pass through Porepunkah and a short drive on we arrive at the sub Alpine town of Bright.
This is not our first trip here for many years we have travelled through Bright without more than a fuel stop and a quick meal enroute to the Ski Resorts of Mount Hotham and Falls Creek during the winter months to enjoy weekends skiing in the mountains, then two years ago we came here during autumn and spent a weekend here and loved it.
We found our accommodation for the weekend unpacked, grabbed a bottle of wine headed up Mount Buffalo to watch the sunset over the mountains, however the cloud had rolled in so the sunset was a fizzer, so we found a vantage point just below the historic chalet over looking the sheer rock cliffs and walls and down in to the Ovens Valley below and enjoyed a glass of wine with our good friends whilst the day faded in to night.
Once it was dark we drove back to where we were staying. On the way we had a near miss with a rather large stag, he was not concerned about us he just wandered down the road and of into the inky black bush.
It had been a big day, so it was time for a great home cooked meal, more wine, great conversation and an early night.
The weather forecast for to day was not great, a cool change with high winds and rain, so we decided to stay close to Bright, after breakfast we ventured out before the change arrived and walked the "Cherry Walk" , a loop walk that follows the Ovens river up stream about 4 km, crosses the river then returns back to Bright through natural bush and a small area of pine plantation, a very leisurely walk lots with of chatting.
It just happened to be my birthday so as we passed the Bright Brewery my mate suggested he would buy me a beer to celebrate, as it was almost lunchtime, and one never to knock back a free beer we found a table out on the deck over looking the river. Just as we were getting settled the wind came up very quickly and very strong, autumn leaves were flying everywhere and then came the rain, we moved inside and enjoyed a very nice lunch and a couple of more beers, whilst waiting for the rain to stop.
As the rain did not ease we ventured out in to the elements and by the time we got back we were all wet. Drinks in the middle of the day make me sleepy, so an afternoon nap was the order of the day.
As it was my birthday my beautiful wife had booked us in to a place call "Tani" a Japanese inspired restaurant, the menu was quite different to traditional Japanese food, using freshly caught and locally farmed produce, great service, great ambiance and great food and wine, I would highly recommend "Tani" to anyone who is headed to Bright.
Saturday morning, the rain has stopped and the plan is to head back up Mount Buffalo to check out some of the waterfalls and do some bush walking, first stop was Lady Bath Falls and Eurobin Falls. On the approach to the starting point we get our first glimpse of the Eurobin Falls, water cascading down the massive granite walls. The walk is about 3 km return following a well maintained path, a little steep in places but not for long, the vegetation is a combination of rainforest complete with ferns, lichens, and fungi and the towering mountain ash of the victorian alpine regions. Bushwalking in the bush after rain is so nice the bush is very special the air is cool and moist, the colours of the vegetation are so vibrant, and the smell is something special. The creeks and water falls were alive with cascading and moving water.
Lady Bath Falls are the first falls you come across, beautiful water fall surrounded by ferns cascading over granite boulders in to beautiful pool of crystal clear mountain water then running of into a pretty creek again lined with ferns, Further along the track you come across a massive granite face with water cascading over it, this Eurobin falls very spectacular, we have been so lucky to be here just after some heavy rain fall.
Once up on the Buffalo Plateau, the landscape changes to large boulder outcrops, heathland and the Mountain ash gives way to Snow gums as we are now above the winter snow line about 1600m, there are lakes up here also the largest is Lake Catani with a camping ground adjacent, very pretty, the whole of the area is a bushwalkers paradise tracks and paths every where, and the Rocky outcrops have names like "The Horn", "The Cathedral" and the Gorge all amazing. We are already planning a trip back here in the warmer months for some bushwalking and try and capture the beauty of the area with my camera.
We walked to the highest point on mountain at "The Horn" 1730m, the track weaves between over an around massive Granite boulders, passing through glades of snow gums. The Summit was shrouded by a blanket of cloud so we could not appreciate the full view, but as the wind was quite strong up here the clouds were moving all the time, stirring and churning around the mountain, clearing briefly then closing in to reduce visibility to mere meters, then clear again all within minutes. The beauty of this mountain has to be seen.
Bright was chosen for the weekend as it was prime time to view the autumn colours of the trees before they loose their leaves for winter, the avenues of trees are spectacular, red, orange and yellows, and leaves covering entire gardens, so beautiful and so different to the Australian bush. The town of Bright was very busy as it was the Autumn festival, with parades, displays and all sorts of festivities. The Brewery seemed to be the centre of activity and surprise, surprise we ended up here again, it is just a great place to enjoy a beer or cider, people watch and just kick back with friends.
Sunday morning the weather was turning again so we went for a short drive to Wandiligong to see more autumn colours, the are large stands of colourful deciduous trees, farm driveways lined with flaming yellow Poplars and apple and pear orchards and throw in some beautiful old buildings and you have some beautiful views. As the weather was closing in, it was time to head home, the end of a great weekend spent with great friends.
I have posted some of my of photographs I have captured in this trip to the Victoria gallery, just follow the Bright Gallery
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