The Alpine Way
This is one of Australia's most scenic drives. It passes through charming historic villages, wineries, and stunning mountain vistas. Scattered between Albury and Bright are dozens of wineries and a few breweries and cideries. The villages have a lot of charm and history and are aglow with colour in autumn. After Bright, the landscape becomes more rugged and mountainous until you wind downhill to the Gippsland Lakes where you can loop back to Melbourne via Wilsons Prom, Phillip Island and Mornington Peninsula or continue on to Sydney via the coast.
Here's a list of highlights along the Alpine Way from north to south.
Alpine Way. Photo: mysticmtb via IG
Beechworth is a heritage village with an acclaimed food and wine scene and stunning gold rush architecture. More than thirty 19th century buildings have been beautifully preserved. This 2 minute video will give you a sample of Beechworth.
Tour the Mayday Hills Lunatic Asylum
Hike to Beechworth Gorge for stunning views
See the jail where Ned Kelly was imprisoned
Foodies should book ahead for a table at the acclaimed Provenance
Try your luck at the Press Room Wine Bar.
Sample beer, cider and wine at Bridge Road Brewers or Amulet Wines.
Take the boardwalk around the Lake Sambell.
Amulet Winery, Beechworth
Amulet Winery, Beechworth. Photo: Thefoodandwinemarshall via IG
Beechworth Gorge. Marc Bongers Photographer via IG
Get a quick sample of its attractions from this 2 minute video.
Gapsted Wines have stunning views across the Ovens Valley, a restaurant with a seasonal menu of local produce, and events such as Music on the Deck, Movies by Moonlight and Shakespeare in the Vines.
Michelini Wines specialises in Italian grape varieties like Pinot Grigio, Barbera, Sangiovese, Marzemino and Fragolino, a strawberry flavoured grape perfect for dessert wine.
There's no winery here but it's worth mentioning for the Happy Valley Hotel where you can enjoy a pub lunch sourced from local ingredients. In spring the beer garden is covered in wisteria blooms. Detour up the Happy Valley Tourist Drive for more wineries, a lavender farm and olive groves.
Lavender Hue Farm, Ovens
Ringer Reef Winery is a small winery with great views run by Bruce and Annie Holm. While you sip, you can try Annie's homemade bread with oil and dukkah, local olives and Mount Buffalo Hazelnuts.
Feathertop Winery produces a wide range of cool climate wines. Dine alfresco in summer or in the heated barrel room in winter while admiring the mountain and vineyard views. They have a deli with local meats, pates, cheeses, bread, smoked fish, olives and dips so you can enjoy a platter on the terrace with a glass of wine and watch the sun set over Mount Buffalo.
Ringer Reef Winery, Porepunkah
Happy Valley Hotel, Ovens
Feathertop Winery, Porepunkah
Bright two minute sampler video.
Bright's natural beauty is best appreciated on one of the walks such as the Valley View Walk where you might see a platypus or the Canyon Walk, part of which is lined with towering poplar trees, blazing gold in autumn, and a suspension bridge takes you across the Ovens River. For a bird's eye view of Bright, head to one of the local lookouts. To explore further afield, hire a bike and cycle the surrounding bike paths.
Try your hand at fly fishing, bike the many bike trails, or take to the sky in a microlight. Take a Tour and Tasting at Bright Brewery. Their beer contains no additives or preservatives, and isn't filtered or pasturised. They also have an extensive wine list and serve food.
Browse the antiques and collectibles at the Old Tabacco Shed. Gather local food and hand made goods at the morning markets, held on the third Saturday of every month.
Explore the many sophisticated restaurants of Bright. Have your meal created by Victoria's celebrated chef Patrizia Simone at Simone's. In her four-hour cooking classes you'll learn Italian cooking techniques using local ingredients.
Bright Brewery. Photo: Marek Augustynek
Beer tasting at Bright Brewery
After the leaves have fallen
Walker Brothers Wine Bar, Bright
Mount Buffalo day trip
Turn off at Porepunkah for Mount Buffalo National Park a region of rugged beauty, sheer cliffs, imposing granite tors, waterfalls, magnificent snow gums, wildflowers, sweeping views, a good swimming lake, and over 90km of walking tracks.
Mount Buffalo. Photo: Humble.Trail via IG
Snow Gum. Photo: Oroight via IG
After Bright, the landscape changes from alpine ash to magnificent snow gum forest and heathland as you climb.
At Mount Hotham, take in the spectacular views from Danny's Lookout. If it's summer, you can trek the Razorback Trail through fields of wildflowers and along a ridge to the summit of Mount Feathertop. Horse riding and trout fishing are popular in the region.
For incredible scenery of the Australian Alps National Park, consider extending the journey onto the Bogong Alpine Way, which connects to the Alpine Way Road at Bright and Omeo, looping through Mount Beauty, Bogong, and Falls Creek. It adds 1 hr 15 mins to the 1 hr 45 min journey. There are many great walks in the region. Here's a 1 minute video to give you a taste of what the detour has in store for you.
Mount Hotham. Photo: laksmi_subadra via IG
Set in lush grazing fields with views across to the Snowy Mountains, Omeo is a town of original gold rush buildings with a choice of two campervan parks. Eateries are limited but Twinkles Café, a friendly light-filled place, is the most popular choice for breakfast. The coast to the south and Bright to the north are just an hour and a half away, if you wish to keep going.
Bruthen is a small rustic village overlooking the Tambo River and home of the Bull Ant Brewery. Their beers use ingredients that ‘respect the earth and our bodies'. Their restaurant uses local food in season, sustainably harvested seafoods and responsibly stewarded meats. They also have a good wine list.Gippsland Lakes region where you can loop back to Melbourne or head along the coast to Sydney.