May 2, 2019 / By Claire Atteia
What do you look for in a weekend away? For those of us who enjoy a mix of adventure and relaxation, I have the place for you. Three and a half hours from Melbourne, Victoria’s high country offers picture perfect mountain vistas, deep green valleys, rivers and lakes and, as a bonus, stunning food and wine destinations.
You can bushwalk amongst Australia’s highest mountain peaks, cycle a rail trail which takes you from winery to winery, or simply walk around local towns like Bright, Beechworth, Yackandandah or Milawa. No matter where you decide to go, you’ll have lots of opportunity to sample local food and drink along the way. While there’s an extensive network of tracks and trails in the area, here are my tips on great routes to get you started.
Location: Mt Buffalo National Park
Time: 2km, 45 minutes
What you’ll see: Ladies Bath Falls is a large pool in a tranquil setting of boulders and tree ferns. Further along the track, you’ll find a viewpoint which overlooks the impressive Eurobin Falls. Afterwards, put your feet up at with a wine and food platter at Ringer Reef Winery in Porepunkah.
Time: 3km, 60 minutes
What you’ll see: The steady upward climb offers tree-lined views of Mt Feathertop, Mt Fainter and Mt Bogong, and at the top, you’ll find a lookout with distant views of Bright. Afterwards, enjoy a beer paddle and pizza at the Bright Brewery in Bright.
Location: Alpine National Park
Time: 11km, 4 hours one-way.
What you’ll see: From Mt Hotham to the top of Mt Feathertop, you’ll walk via the snow gum covered craggy spine of the Razorback. When you reach the peak, stunning 360 degree views extend across the Victorian alps. Afterwards, put your feet up at the Cattleman’s Café and Smoke House in Mt Buller.
Time: 7km, 2 hours
What you’ll see: Once a hideout for the Kelly Gang, the Gorge provides views over the town of Beechworth. You’ll see magnificent rock pools and large granite outcrops, and cross the Newtown Bridge, built in 1875. Afterwards, sit back and enjoy crisp ale and pizza at the Bridge Road Brewers in Beechworth.
For those keen to push their limits
Location: Mt Buller
Time: Various – over 40km of tracks
What you’ll see: Mt Buller sits at the top of any trail runners bucket list. You’ll find over 40km of track, from beginner to advanced, surrounded by steep ridge-lines and fire roads. Take time out whilst on the mountain and bring a picnic with you.
With a ride to suit every cyclist, the high country is one of Australia’s premier cycling destinations. For the hard-core riders, challenge yourself and tackle one of Victoria’s highest peaks, or for a more relaxed ride, you can slow it down and visit local wineries, breweries and farm gates on a rail trail ride. Arm yourself with a map, two wheels and a few friends and discover the local producers in Bright, Wandiligong, Everton and Milawa, and be sure to fill your basket with wine, olives and gourmet cheeses along the way.
Location: Milawa to Oxley
Time: 10km, 1 hour
What you’ll see: Pop into cellar doors and gourmet food stores on this popular leg of the Pedal to Produce route. Start from the Milawa cheese factory and head towards Oxley. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to break up your ride at one of the gourmet cafes along the way. Afterwards put your feet up with a local wine at the Sam Miranda Winery in Oxley.
Location: Falls Creek
Time: 6km, 1 hour
What you’ll see: Falls Creek's mountain bike park is 40kms of trails that flow through beautiful alpine terrain. The Flowtown trail is a free-flowing ride with a few twists and turns, and is suited to beginner to intermediate mountain bike riders. Afterwards satisfy your hunger with a delicious sandwich at the Mount Beauty Bakery.
Location: Beechworth to Milawa
Time: 30km, 3 hours
What you’ll see: This ride is all about the natural bush. Steep cuttings and heritage brick bridges make this trail a beautiful experience, and as a bonus, most of the trail is downhill! Afterwards enjoy a food platter and bottle of bubbles at the Brown Brothers winery in Milawa.
For those keen to push their limits
Location: Gapstead to Bright
Time: 41km, 4 hours
What you’ll see: Beginning in Gapstead, you’ll ride to Bright along the Murray to Mountains rail trail with stunning views of the Mt Buffalo National Park. Afterwards put your feet up and try the local boutique gins at the Reed & Co gin distillery in Bright.
Top image - Oxfam Trailwalker
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