When it comes to bike riding, Bright and Mt Beauty in Victoria’s north-east have got to be one of the Australia's cycling meccas. So it was a logical first port of call when kicking off our ‘Destinations’ series, which is designed to share everything you might need or want to know about a certain location before you head there on your bike riding holiday.
We had no idea bike riding would just be the half of it! Where do we start, other than by assuring you that Australia's Bright and Mt Beauty has every reason to be on your bike riding holiday bucket list. Here’s just a few of the reasons we fell in love with this destination.
1/ Painting a Postcard Picture
First of all, there’s the landscape. Nestled in the foothills of Australia's Victorian Alps, this slice of north-east gives you some of the most stunning landscapes in Australia. In just a few dozen kilometres you can move from winding lowland rivers to crisp and rugged mountain wilderness; or from beautifully preserved country towns to dense bushland. Base yourself in either Bright or Mt Beauty, and it’s all on your doorstep.
2/ Get Ready for Action
OK we don’t want to mislead you, as you can definitely dial things down to a gentle and moderate pace whilst visiting this area, but for sure it has all ends of the action spectrum covered. Whilst we visited, a local said to us that Bright and Mt Beauty were where retirees came to live… Our immediate thought was there’d have to be some pretty active elderly people living in these parts! Aside from beach sports, I think you’d be hard pressed to come up with anything that can’t be done in this area!
Bike riding – now this is pretty much why we came to the area in the first place, and we weren’t disappointed. We came with a road riding and mountain biking team, and both were kept more than busy. The road riders had a ball climbing the front of Falls Creek and Mt Buffalo, whilst the mountain bikers hit the trails through Mt Beauty’s Mountain Bike Park and Bright’s Mystic. And we didn’t even touch the sides – there’s still plenty of kilometres we will be back to travel, including riding up or around Mt Hotham, Mt Feathertop and even just down in the lowlands heading from town-to-town. Whether you’re a serious rider (pro teams such as Orica-GreenEDGE and Drapac are often seen training up here) or someone out to just have a challenging but enjoyable ride, this area is going to look after you. Equally if you’re coming with the family and everyone has their own bikes, then you can lap up the terrific Murray to Mountains Rail Trail, or simply take the little ones out for a tiny spin along the riverbanks. There is no shortage of bike riding events up in these parts – from National Series, to sensational initiatives like Seven Peaks, Three Peaks and more; you’ve got plenty of motivation to get to the mountains.
If the adrenaline is still pumping post ride and you’re looking for other outdoor activities to enjoy in the area, then take your pick. Hiking, bushwalking, mountain running, canoeing, kayaking, paragliding; you’ve come to the right place for any of these pursuits, and we haven’t even got to winter sports!
3/ High on Community Charm
Bright and Mt Beauty are the kind of country towns whereby everyone knows everyone else. People stop each other in the street for chats, or shout out hellos from across the road. The tourists are there aplenty, and certainly in the peak seasons of summer and winter these towns really surge in population, but it pretty much only adds to their ambience. Rather than feel like you’re stuck in a tourist bottle neck, you just need to walk a few hundred metres and you’re either near a river, up in some bushland, or just away from the buzz. But if you like a town with movement and pace, you’ll find it here in Bright and Mt Beauty; this isn’t where you come if you want to feel like doing nothing!
Wander the streets and just duck in and out of beautiful shops – if your wallet tends to burn a hole in your pocket then you can definitely fire things up here. Locals have you looked after with everything from bikes, homewares, and local produce; to second-hand and vintage stores, arts and craft, handcrafted furniture and more.
You’re not going to be left wanting when it comes to retail …
Lucky we did plenty of riding otherwise we would have rolled home, the food, beer and wine was seriously that good! We did not put a foot wrong in every café, restaurant, brewery or winery we visited – it was like we were in a culinary purple patch! From places like Tani Eat and Drink or Thirteen Steps, which felt like we were slipping into the serious foody suburbs of some of our most foody-loving capital cities, to the cosy and gorgeous local cafes like Coral Lee, Ginger Baker, Bright Velo and Svarmisk; every menu was put together with passion for food, locale, and flavour. But we didn’t shy away from watering holes, either! The Bright and Sweetwater Breweries made us feel like we’d been locals for years, and the Boyntons Feathertop Winery in nearby Porepunkah had us turning into Pinot Noir aficionados.
What we really loved with so many of these places was how well they catered to the recreational holidayer. Spaces for bikes, outdoor areas for (potentially sweaty) post – sport diners, refreshing ales for hard work in the hills, and generous sized dishes all-round made us realise this place is just so dialled in to its value as a riding and outdoors paradise. The proximity to the hills and the rail trail just made it that much easier to go from a ride, hike, paddle or run straight to a hearty meal and drink (or two). If you’ve been toying with the idea of coming to Bright/ Mt Beauty for some time out, then get on board and do it. You’re not going to be disappointed.
But for now, sit back and get inspired from our visit – we hope it leaves you wanting to get the bike on the car asap!