Spring has sprung, and one of the best areas to enjoy the warmer weather is in Bright in Victoria's alpine region. The huge old European trees are stretching glossy green arms over the lush lawns along the Ovens River, providing shade for a huge number of activities for all tastes and budgets.
Yes, it takes about 4 hours to drive there depending on where you are in Melbourne, and yes, that is a horrifying idea if you have kids, but it's worth it if you love the combination of beautiful scenery and fantastic food and wine. The locals work hard to make it a fun place to visit, so why not make a weekend of it and start discovering what the area has to offer. Here are a few special events that make it well worth the trip.
"Bright Markets - Make It, Bake It, Grow It"
The north-east of Victoria is fast becoming a premier gourmet food and wine industry, with wineries, cheesemakers, organic meat producers and much more.
To showcase the local products, the Bright Chamber of Commerce runs the "Bright Markets…Make It, Bake It, Grow It". The market is on every third Saturday of each month from 9:00am to 1:00pm in Howitt Park, on the banks of the beautiful Ovens River.
With more than 50 producers represented, you can sample a very wide range of delectable food, including olives, pasta, preserves, verjuice, nuts, chilli, pastry items, sweet treats, smallgoods, artisan bread and much more.
There is also entertainment, live music and children's activities to keep the kids occupied while you fill yourself up on the samples at each stall.
The park also has a magnificent adventure playground to amuse the kids, but you need to keep an eye on the little ones as there is no fencing, so they can easily access the river.
Take a bag – I doubt you will be able to leave without a swag full of great treats.
Bright Spring Festival
The Bright Spring Festival runs Sunday 20 October to Tuesday 6 November and draws together a multitude of diverse activities in the area.
Grouped loosely into interest categories, the festival encompasses a range of activities from gardening workshops and weekend markets to food and wine events and fetes, and of course the crazily challenging Alpine 4 Peaks Climb walking (or running) event that occurs over the Cup Weekend. Yeah, who doesn't want to run up a mountain or two, or three, or four? Not me, but plenty clearly do, as the event has been going since 1979.
Harrietville Chinese History Celebrations
Many people might not realise that there was extensive gold mining in the area around Bright in the 1860s, particularly around the hamlet of Harrietville at the base of Mt Hotham. As in many of Victoria's gold mining areas, Chinese people made a huge contribution, and in 2007 the descendants of the Chinese pioneers of the Upper Ovens Valley got together to celebrate their heritage in the area. This year, five years after that original event, they are doing it again with a big weekend of events in Harrietville on 12-14 October. Local history buffs and families will have a ball with gold panning, the Bendigo Chinese Lion on parade with drummers and ear-splitting firecrackers, historical re-enactments and tours, and a performance of the play "The Quiet Brother" by Ivy Mak.
Stitch and Quilt in Bright
Crafty types will love the annual quilting weekend, which runs this year on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 October 2012. If sewing is your thing, why not try some new projects with like-minded people in the tranquil surrounds of Bright?