The Buckland Studio Retreat offers self-contained luxury bed and breakfast accommodation located in the Mount Buffalo and Bright region of North East Victoria. The region is renowned for its range of fine food and boutique wine experiences; access to Mount Buffalo National Park; and scenic touring routes taking in the Victorian Alps and High Country, Milawa Gourmet Region, and historic Beechworth.
Tani Eat and Drink, 100 Gavan Street, Bright
Regularly changing menu featuring modern regional food, often with a Japanese twist. They use seasonal and regional produce sourced from small growers (friends) and small producers where possible. Great presentation and simple, refined flavours. Sample menu available on their website www.tanieatdrink.com.au
Simone’s Restaurant, 98 Gavan Street, Bright
With a menu based on modern regional Italian cuisine, Simone’s is one of Victoria’s most lauded regional dining institutions. Cooking classes with restaurant matriarch Patrizia Simone are also available.
thirteen steps, 14 Barnard Street, Bright
Downstairs bistro and wine bar serving moderately priced simple meals, often to share. Robust, earthy dishes with slow cooked foods often featuring. Great atmosphere, stone walls, nice turns (can be little on the noisy side when busy) and enthusiastic and very friendly service. Sample menu available on their website: www.thirteensteps.com.au
Poplars Restaurant, 8 Star Road, Bright
Poplars emulates the traditional, relaxed atmosphere of a French Bistro. Classic dishes such as fillet steak with pommes frittes, duck confit, brulee and lemon tart; sit with a blackboard menu based on the best produce available daily. Guests enjoy the dining room as well as outdoor cafe tables under the grapevines in summer.
Ginger Baker, 127 Gavan Street, Bright
A cosy atmosphere and top-notch tapas utilising local produce, as well as a regional wine list and good coffee, make Ginger Baker an enticing venue for a long lunch – perhaps in lieu of a full dinner.
Blackbird Cafe and Food Store, 95 Great Alpine Road, Bright
Blackbird Cafe is a spacious venue with quirky urban style. Lunch features a great selection of daily specials to complement the regular menu and regional wine list. French pastries and good coffee will also tempt.
Villa Gusto, 630 Buckland Valley Road, Buckland Valley
The Tuscan-styled boutique hotel Villa Gusto features osteria dining (an Italian word meaning ‘small inn’), serving regional and seasonal foods (produce is grown on-site) matched with local and Italian wines. The hotel’s grand room, which plays host to diners, makes for a sumptuous culinary theatre. The dining style is “Spuntini”, southern Italian inspired small dishes to share. The Restaurant has won environmental sustainability awards.
Bright Brewery, 121 Great Alpine Road, Bright
The brewery is now housed in an impressive, modern structure and employs Simon Buckley, a chef who comes with great accolades and continuously creates new dishes to match the house made beer. Certainly a step up from normal Pub food offerings. Inside and outside seating with wood fires in the colder months. Live music on weekends.
Myrtleford Butter Factory, 15 Myrtle Street (Great Alpine Road), Myrtleford
Since opening in 2007, Naomi and Bronwyn Ingelton have made the Myrtleford Butter Factory a regional slow-food institution. Aside from producing the best hand-churned cultured butter you are ever likely to taste (see how it’s done by taking a weekly tour), they are also known for morning teas and Mediterranean-styled lunches using local and seasonal produce, as well as their own range of preserves.
Bright Brewery, 121 Great Alpine Road, Bright
Producing one of the most exceptional ranges of beer in the country, the Bright Brewery has welcoming owners and staff, a cafe and and sunny terrace, which provide ample inducements to stay and enjoy its Ovens River location. Live music on Sundays, and beer geeks can also enjoy ‘Brewer for a Day’ workshops.
Boynton’s Feathertop Winery, 6619 Great Alpine Road, Porepunkah
Boynton’s Feathertop Winery produces a substantial range of cool climate wines produced from mainly French grape varieties. These span the full spectrum of whites, reds, sparkling, dessert and fortified wines. Spectacularly situated on a steep hillside with an inspiring outlook, its imposing cellar door includes a terrace where visitors can enjoy alfresco dining in garden surrounds every day throughout January, and reduced trading hours through to Queen’s Birthday Weekend. A mini-deli has a selection of local cheeses, antipasto and chartcuterie.
Ringer Reef Winery, 6835 Great Alpine Road, Porepunkah
A small boutique winery, Ringer Reef produces a range of handmade cool-climate white, red and sparkling wines. An inviting cellar door with views across the Ovens Valley towards Mount Buffalo, is the perfect setting to taste varieties such as Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Petit Manseng, and a delectable Sparkling Pinot Chardonnay.
Mount Buffalo is a unique and pristine alpine plateau surrounded by sheer granite cliffs. One of the oldest national parks in Australia, it offers numerous day walks of all grades (trail maps are offered at the Park gate). At 1723 metres, the view from the top of the mountain’s highest point, atop the towering granite outcrop of The Horn, offers a 360 degree view of the Australian Alps. The Gorge walk leads to the top of the Crystal Brook, where the brook can be seen tumbling 300 metres down into the chasm below.
Cycling the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail and Audex Alpine Classic
Popular with many guests at the Buckland Studio Retreat is the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail. Over 100 kilometres of sealed off-road trails provide riders with safe and scenic links between Wangaratta, Beechworth, Rutherglen and Bright.
The Buckland Studio Retreat also makes a luxury base for the Audax Alpine Classic bike tour, and for mountain bikers taking on ‘The Dirty Dozen’ iconic MTB trails located in North East Victoria, including national competition-standard MTB parks at Mount Beauty and Beechworth. www.thedirtydozen.com.au
The Bright region has a number of ‘curtained’ MTB trails known only to insiders. Ask a local for details.
Flying out of the nearby Porepunkah Airfield, Holiday Air Adventures offers scenic flights in a high-wing Cessna Hawk XP, with trips covering the Alpine Valleys, Mount Buffalo, Hotham Heights and Falls Creek.
Microlight flights are available through Australia’s longest running microlight school, The Eagle School of Microlighting.
Ultimate Alpine Loop Day Trip
At approximately 250km, this substantial day trip is much loved by everyone who does it. From Bright, take the Tawonga Gap Road to Mount Beauty, overlooked by Victoria’s highest peak, Mount Bogong. From here, follow the Bogong High Plains Road. Be sure to stop at the tiny township of Bogong (especially in Autumn to enjoy the gardens), before continuing onto Falls Creek and the Bogong High Plains. On the High Plains, view historic Mountain Cattlemens’ Huts such as Wallaces Hut (a short walk from the road), and Cope Hut (visible from the road). Continue on to Angler’s Rest on the Mitta Mitta River, stopping at The Blue Duck Inn for lunch. Head south to Omeo to encounter the biggest Cuckoo Clock shop in the southern hemisphere. Take the Great Alpine Road back up into the High Plains, driving through Cobungra Station to Dinner Plain to view uniquely Australian alpine architecture, and through Hotham Heights to view the spectacular scenery of The Razorback and Mount Feathertop. Continue to Harrietville for the best homemade icecream at Morries Ice-creamery and Cafe, before returning to Bright. This drive takes at least 5 hours plus breaks, and is only accessible from October to May.
Happy and Kiewa Valleys Scenic Drive
Happy Valley Road offers a picturesque route linking the alpine valleys of the Ovens and Kiewa Rivers. A 23 kilometre drive starts at Ovens (almost opposite the Happy Valley Hotel), and traverses the length of this secluded valley, winding through an unspoiled pastoral landscape until it climbs into the Kancoona forest. As the road swings around the valley’s head, the forest opens up, allowing an uninterrupted view down the length of the valley framing a panoramic silhouette of Mount Buffalo. This is one of the most perfect views in North East Victoria. From here it is only a short drive to connect with the Kiewa Valley Highway, with Kergunyah to the North and Tawonga and Mount Beauty to the South. Visit the Mount Beauty Bakery, or the craft beer house Sweet Water Brewing, for drinks and light meals. For exceptional fine dining, be sure to visit Waddington’s of Kergunyah. It is also possible to loop from the Kiewa Valley Highway back through the historic gold mining towns of Yackandandah and Beechworth.
Destination Beechworth and Stanley
Historic Beechworth had its early beginnings in the gold rush of 1852. These days visitors enjoy its intact heritage streetscapes, featuring a historic precinct of granite buildings dating from the gold-era, including the courthouse where Ned Kelly was put on trial. The town also boasts a range of fine dining establishments, including The Green Shed Bistro, Gigi’s, and Tanswell’s Commercial Hotel. Provenance Restaurant is one of Australia’s most highly awarded; known for its spectacularly innovative dishes matched with an exceptional and ever-changing wine list. Cellardoor carries a carefully-crafted range of regional and international wines, as well as good coffee; and opens as a wine bar on weekends. Bridge Road Brewery will thrill craft beer aficionados with tastings accompanied with wood-fired pizzas. Beechworth’s boutique shopping can prove irresistible to some, while others opt for a bit of silly fun at Splatoons Cartoon Shop: get your portrait on a Wanted poster in five minutes.
The short drive from Beechworth to Stanley is worthwhile solely to visit The Stanley Pub. Great food and a strong regional and international wine list make it an ideal venue for lunch or dinner. www.stanleypub.com.au Pitstops at Snowline Fruits and High Grove Chestnut and Berry Farm offer the finest farm-gate produce.
Milawa Gourmet Region Tour
For anyone interested in local produce, the Milawa Gourmet Region is a gourmand’s dream. Within walking distance of the Milawa cross-roads are The Olive Shop (with adjoining country bakery), Snow Road Produce and Cafe, and Milawa Mustards, as well as the cellardoor of King Valley winery Chrismont. Nearby are Brown Brothers Winery (see below), and the Milawa Cheese Factory, known for farmhouse cheeses, an exceptional bakery, and a restaurant. The Factory complex also includes The Muse Gallery and the cellardoor of Woodpark Wines. Between Milawa and the village of Oxley (four kilometres away) is Walkabout Apiaries; while Oxley is host to Ciavarella’s Oxley Estate Winery, known for its white port; Blue Ox blueberries, selling fresh berries in season as well as preserves and frozen berries; and the King River Cafe.
Brown Brothers and the Epicurean Centre, Milawa
Set in charming manicured gardens, Brown Brothers winery at Milawa, produces the widest range of varietal wines in Australia. Their Epicurean Centre is one of North East Victoria’s premier lunch venues. Its a la carte menu is matched with recommended Brown Brothers wines, and the quality of food and service never disappoints.