The Great Alpine Road starts (or ends) at Wangaratta, an historic town known for its hospitality and popular jazz festival.
Discover fine wine and local produce in the valleys along the northern leg of the Great Alpine Road. At Milawa call in at the famed Brown Brothers cellar door and sample great produce at Milawa Mustards and the Cheese Factory, along with the five-star Lindenwarrah Country House Hotel. Nearby Rutherglen is one of the oldest and most renowned winegrowing regions in Australia, famous for its muscats and fortifieds
Take a detour to Beechworth, a village built on the wealth of the gold rush of the 1800s. Explore the historic honey granite buildings, including the courthouse where bushranger Ned Kelly’s final trial commenced. It is also home to the famed Beechworth Bakery and highly regarded restaurants, including The Bank.
Mount Buffalo National Park is a great place for a gentle walk to see waterfalls, granite formations and lookouts with great views of the Alps. Or try something more vigorous such as horse and bike riding, rock climbing and, in winter, cross-country or downhill skiing.
This leg ends at Bright, a beautiful town on the Ovens River, filled with grand deciduous trees that are breathtaking in autumn. Bright is also home to Simone’s, one of the best restaurants in the state
BRIGHT TO OMEO
110kms / 68 miles, 2hours
From Bright the Great Alpine Road ascends to the alpine resort of Mount Hotham. The landscape changes from alpine ash to snow gum forest and heathland as you climb. Mount Hotham offers 245 hectares of ski area, including a wide selection of downhill and cross-country trails for beginners as well as experienced skiers.
Take in the spectacular views from Danny’s Lookout to the summit of Mount Feathertop, the second-highest mountain in the state, over the Alpine National Park and as far as Falls Creek and Mt Buffalo on a clear day. Just south of Mount Hotham is Dinner Plain, a small alpine village that offers accommodation in comfortable chalets designed to blend in with the surrounding snow gums. Dinner Plain is a popular centre for horseback trail rides, with local tour operators offering year-round treks through the high country.
OMEO TO BAIRNSDALE
122kms / 75 miles, 1:30hours
From Omeo, the service centre for the local cattle, sheep and timber industries, the Great Alpine Road continues south towards Bairnsdale – East Gippsland’s only city. Bairnsdale originally settled as an inland port, sits on the banks of the Mitchell River and leads into the Gippsland Lakes. The town is now a major gateway to Victoria’s east. Visit St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, the interior of which was painted in the 1930s by Francesco Floreani, attend an annual musical and sporting event, or explore the Mitchell River silt jetties that extend 8 kilometres into nearby Lake King.
At Bairnsdale the Great Alpine Road touring route ends, and your exploration of Gippsland and its spectacular lakes begins.