Please note: Images in this article were taken before current COVID-19 safety measures were in place.
Recent bushfires have impacted communities across Victoria and with many regional towns relying on tourism to thrive, now is the time to plan your next visit.
Read on for some recommended trips in Victoria's High Country.
Day 1 - Bright (Melbourne to Bright, 326kms)
Visitors can make the most of a long weekend and head to the High Country, where stunning mountains, valleys, rivers and lakes are perfect places for adventure and relaxation, year-round. Recharge at renowned restaurants and wineries, discover the vibrant craft brewery scene, or fill your basket at provedores and farm gates, all brimming with local delights.
Visit boutique wineries, stock up on stunning produce and taste local ingredients in village cafes and restaurants. Visitors can get their caffeine fix at the family owned small batch coffee roaster and café, Sixpence Coffee. Go for coffee in the morning and stay for a drink in the afternoon when the shared space turns into Reed & Co Distillery – an urban distillery offering a neighbourhood bar feel with gin and tonic flights, cocktails and a snack menu. Those with a sense of adventure can take their lunch to the extreme with Bright Adventure Company’s Cliff Picnics – a private dining experience suspended 300m above the valley floor. For a more relaxed setting, Elm Dining – warm country hospitality in a heritage Victorian cottage built in 1857.
From cosy cabins to deluxe eco-retreats, secluded camping spots and romantic bed and breakfasts, Bright has accommodation options to suit visitors of all budgets and preferences. A favourite with families and groups, Big 4 Bright Holiday Park boasts a range of accommodation options from budget cabins to impressive villas complete with spa, Wi-Fi and full kitchen. Aalborg combines Scandinavian design with green building credentials to create a luxe getaway for couples, while Leader Reef provides a luxury environment for families or travelling groups to relax in comfort with a wood fire, swimming pool, deck, and stunning views of Mount Porepunkah. For those wanting the benefits of high attitude without the effort: stay at Altitude 1, Australia’s first commercial property with simulated altitude sleep technology.
Victoria’s High Country is one of Australia’s premier cycling destinations. Cyclists can go it alone, or book in for one of the region’s newest cycling tours.The new self-guided twilight tour, Sunsets & Sombreros kicks off at Bright Electric Bikes where visitors can collect their eBike before cycling to Porepunkah for a Mexican Meal at Rail Trail Cafe – trading a mini sombrero for a life-size version on arrival. For some, Bright Brewery is a destination within itself. This much-loved brewery does much more than create award-winning ales. The brewery also serves up hearty fare in a casual setting, offers guided tours and tastings, showcases local talent with Sunday live music sessions and provides hands-on brewing practice thanks to the popular ‘Brewer for a Day’ experience. Right in the centre of town, Grape and Grain Bar is a casual spot to sample the best wines, beers and ciders of Bright and its surrounds, including dry alpine cider made with pink lady apples from neighbouring orchards.
Day 2 - Beechworth (Bright to Beechworth, 61kms)
Beechworth is a village with an acclaimed food and wine scene set amid stunning gold rush architecture. Take a stroll through this picturesque township, filled with lush green trees, boutiques and renowned restaurants and cafes. And visit in autumn to experience an explosion of colour as the leaves turn to golden yellows, rich reds and vibrant oranges.
Uncover wealth of a different kind, with Beechworth's abundance of prized eateries. Compete for a reservation at celeb-chef Michael Ryan's Provenance, awarded two hats by the Good Food Guide 2020. Provenance is a Japanese-influenced, contemporary regional cuisine; contemporary in terms of design and textures and regional with an emphasis on local and seasonal produce of the highest quality. Around the corner is the historic Empire Hotel which offers a revamped a la carte restaurant downstairs in the dining room. A hidden oasis on the main street, Eldorado Road Cellar Door Cantina boast a small but quality driven menu and a wine list that reflect their home at the foot of the mountains.
Choose a style that suits your taste and budget, from romantic hideaways and boutique homes to eco-friendly retreats, luxury lodges and picturesque camping spots. For the ultimate indulgent weekend, visitors can stay on-site in the four separate luxury suites located in the private courtyard garden at the back of Provenance. Alternatively, seeking more balance should look no further than the brand new The Spa Beechworth, with boutique wellness accommodation and modern spa.
Visitors won’t go thirsty in Beechworth. A stop at Feathertop Winery on the drive from Bright to Beechworth is a must for visitors to pick up a sparkling shiraz or a bite to eat on the stunning lawn terrace. Once in Beechworth, the iconic Bridge Road Brewers is a must. Located in a 150-year-old Coach House and stables, the tap house offers 20 house-brewed beers on tap and amazing pizzas. Up the road, quietly tucked away, is Billson’s Brewery. Founded in 1865, the landmark has received a new lease on life with an expanded offering now includes small-batch cordials, traditional and natural sodas as well as craft beers, premium spirits and mixers, including a turmeric tined gin to reflect the town’s historic goldrush past. A visit to Beechworth wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the famous Beechworth Honey, which combines retail, with a fascinating honeybee encounter and a tempting honey-tasting-station with more than 30 Australian honey varieties to enjoy.
Day 3 – King Valley (Beechworth to King Valley Prosecco Road, 110kms)
Live la dolce vita with fine food, wine and accommodation in Milawa and King Valley Prosecco Road, one of Australia's oldest gourmet regions made famous for its world class Prosecco.
Genuine Italian hospitality is at the heart of the experience in the King Valley. Enjoy lunch perched overlooking the beautiful valley at the beautiful Chrismont. The award winning Chrismont Cellar Door, Restaurant and Larder boasts contemporary interior and sleek, sophisticated architecture that offers spectacular views with a menu inspired by northern Italy. Set amongst beautiful established gardens, and surrounded by Jessie’s Creek, the Mountain View Hotel offers a European influenced menu, along with four fully refurbished units to stay overnight. The Trattoria at Dal Zotto is popular for simple antipasto combinations to delicious handmade pasta. The restaurant at Gracebrook Wines, located in the Upper King Valley, offers traditional country style and modern Australian using local and estate grown meats, seasonal vegetables and fruit. Guests can enjoy fine dining at Patricia's Table Restaurant at Brown Brothers or relaxed sharing plates of seasonal, local and own-grown produce prepared on site at Sam Miranda.
Stay amongst the vines at Lancemore Milawa, a tranquil country house hotel brimming with elegance and style – the perfect base to experience a rich bounty of the King Valley. Recognised as one of Australia’s best regional hotels, the property offers 40 elegantly designed and spacious guest rooms opening onto manicured gardens, vineyards and the alpine peaks, and Merlot restaurant. Casa Luna Gourmet Accommodation offers stylish accommodation and beautiful food in stunning, architect-designed buildings. Breakfasts and dinners at Casa Luna are served in the stunning glass-walled dining room, or in the alfresco wood-fired dining kitchen - La Piazza. Visitors can get close to nature without sacrificing creature comforts at Valley View Glamping, where each bell tent includes quality linen and Prosecco flutes, along with breakfast at a local café.
A unique prosecco experience that captures the heart of the King Valley, Prosecco Road is an exciting food and wine trail that includes intimate tastings with the makers. Dal Zotto were the pioneers of Prosecco in the region when they planted the first Prosecco vines in 1999. It didn’t take long for the variety to sparkle with Brown Brothers, Chrismont, Pizzini and Sam Miranda following suit. Visitors can jump in the kitchen with Katrina Pizzini, who runs a cooking school at Pizzini, including gnocchi and pasta classes, while Politini hosts cannoli and salami making classes. Beer lovers can get their fix at King River Brewing. Alternatively, grab a map, hop on a bike, and pedal between small producers in welcoming villages, filling basket with cheeses, nuts, trout, honey, wine and olives.
For more holiday ideas, visit the Visit Victoria website.
And don't miss our earlier article which includes recommendations for the Gippsland area: Getting back to Regional Victoria - Plan your trip to the Gippsland Region.