Photo credit: Ricky French

The Ovens River tells the mood of every season in Bright. In winter it swells to a torrent, surging through the mountain hamlet of Harrietville at the base of Mt Hotham and pummelling the narrow gorge walls tucked behind Bright’s compact town centre. In autumn it puts on a show, ablaze with colour from the fallen leaves of the European trees that line its banks. Spring sees mountain streams swell with snowmelt, feeding the river as it flows the length of the Ovens Valley, eventually feeding into the Murray near Yarrawonga.

This is truly a town for all seasons. The warmer months are particularly special, when Bright takes on the air of a childhood summer camp. Paragliders leap from the summit of Mystic Mountain, as mountain bikers tear down the pine tree-lined trails. The town is awash with Lycra-clad road cyclists sipping coffee in the sun at local roasters Sixpence Coffee, or popping into Dumu Balcony Café (a social enterprise that brings indigenous youth from Northern Australia to the High Country to train them in hospitality), or grabbing a sneaky burger and cocktail from the all-too-tempting Tomahawks (one Tiki Sour is probably the limit for safe riding). Cycling is to the summer in Bright what skiing is to winter in Whistler. The super-keen can tackle the thigh-busting climb up Mt Hotham, while the more leisurely set their sights on Wangaratta, part of the 83km Murray to Mountains Rail Trail….

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