THE ONE WINERY EXPERIENCE
Bright sits in the heart of the Alpine Valleys wine region, an up-and-coming area that has begun attracting some seriously talented winemakers. Plenty of these wineries are open to the public for tastings; however, for a unique experience, sign up for the Alpine Valleys Wine and Gin Experience offered by the Kilnhouses (listed below). These packages include two nights at the Kilnhouses, dinner and a gin tasting at Reed & Co distillery, a local produce hamper, plus private wine tastings at Mayford Wines, and at the Billy Button cellar door – two of the Bright area's best wineries.
THE ONE DISTILLERY
Hamish Nugent and Rachel Reed needed a rest. The chefs, who had collected hat after hat at their award-winning Bright restaurant Tani Eat & Drink, were expecting their first child, and found themselves stretched too thin, so they closed the eatery and opened a laid-back gin distillery instead. Only problem is, they're now doing food at Reed & Co to match their gin, and that food is extremely good. Like, restaurant quality good. If the pair wanted a rest from the kitchen, this was not the way to go about it. Still, that works out well for visitors, who can enjoy Reed's top-quality spirits matched with dishes created by Nugent and Reed.
THE ONE WALK
Fancy a stroll to work off all of that good food? The walk from Bright to nearby Wandiligong is an absolute pleasure, a gentle six-kilometre wander that will take you through forests of eucalypts and wild apple trees, and past remnants of the area's gold-rush past. Once you get to Wandiligong you'll find a charming village with plenty of well-preserved reminders of the past, including the original post office and library. Even a walk as gentle as this deserves a reward, so call into the Wandi Pub for a parma and a pint of local beer.
THE ONE RESTAURANT
The cottage at 98 Gavan Street in Bright has a long history: from 1862 until 1977 it was a doctor's surgery, the place of practice for a succession of 29 medical professionals; since then it has functioned as a restaurant, first Barnaby's, and later the hatted and much-loved Simones. Now, 98 Gavan Street is home to Elm Dining, the passion project of restaurateurs David and Natalie Featherstone, who serve guests a modern menu of fine-dining cuisine, matching high country produce with local wines.
THE ONE BIKE TRACK
Photo: Visit Victoria
The area around Bright boasts world-class mountain-biking trails. At Mt Buller, Falls Creek and Mt Beauty, enthusiasts can test their skills on tracks that range from fast to technical, pump to downhill. For those wanting to stay closer to town, there's also Mystic Bike Park, a community-run facility that caters to riders of all abilities, from rank first-timers to those keen to tackle double-black-diamond downhills. There are more than 50 kilometres of trails here, lovingly crafted and cared for by the Bright MTB community.
THE ONE BREWERY
Bright tends to appeal to a certain set: creative, passionate people who do what they do extremely well. One of those is Scott Brandon, who founded Bright Brewery in 2005. What began as a tiny outfit run out of a small shed has become one of Victoria's premier craft breweries, and the ideal spot to grab some lunch on the "Hop Terrace" overlooking the Ovens River while enjoying a brew. Try staples such as the Blowhard Pale Ale and the Hellfire IPA, or look out for seasonal beers made with local ingredients.
THE ONE CAFÉ
It will come as no surprise to find that Bright has a whole host of cafes serving excellent coffee. Ginger Baker is eternally popular. Blackbird has a deserved reputation. Food Wine Friends also does a great flat white. Our pick of the bunch, however, is Sixpence Coffee, which roasts its own beans on-site in a converted mechanics garage on Wills Street. The team know how to get the best out of those beans, too, brewing the sort of high-quality cups you would expect to find in inner-city Melbourne. Beans are available to take home as well.
THE ONE LUXURY VILLA
A few minutes outside Bright in the verdant Ovens Valley you'll find the Kilnhouses, a set of three luxurious self-contained villas on a working winery and cattle farm. Two of these villas are designed to look like the old kilnhouses once used to dry the local tobacco crop, their rough corrugated iron exteriors hiding serious luxury inside with views over the vines to Mt Buffalo. The third property is the Sorting Shed, a Nordic-inspired villa with clean, modern lines, and beautiful living spaces both indoors and out.
THE ONE HARDCORE HIKE
For those who fancy a hike that's a little more challenging than a stroll through flat countryside, Mt Buffalo offers a wide range of tracks to keep bushwalkers happy. These range from short, one- to two-hour meanders through densely forested foothills, all the way up to "The Big Walk", an 11.3-kilometre trail that perfectly captures the beauty and biodiversity of this area.
ONE MORE THING…
Do yourself a favour and spend a few days exploring some of the other high country towns, all of which offer a mix of historic charm and modern wining and dining. Check out Porepunkah, Eurobin, Myrtleford, Milawa, Stanley, Beechworth and more.
The writer travelled with assistance from Tourism North East and Visit Victoria.