Exploring the Victorian High Country in Summer

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The summer months in Victoria’s High Country are recognisable by picturesque mountains, valleys, rivers and lakes which are unspoiled destinations ready for your next camping expedition.

No matter how you describe your adventurous spirit, the summer months in Victoria’s north-east provide the perfect platform for exploration, from a range of recreation trails to adrenalin injecting experiences.

Once the hype settles, there’s the chance to recharge at well-recognised cafes and restaurants, rehydrate amongst the craft breweries and wineries, or fill your camp cupboards at community markets stocked with local produce.

Ready to head for the hills? I’ve detailed a range of opportunities that’ll have you packing your bags to explore Victoria’s High Country before the next snowfall.

Welcome to Beautiful BRIGHT sign

The high country is just as enjoyable in summer as it is in winter. 

Camping

Finding somewhere in the High Country to peg out the tent or brake the wheels on the camper is as easy as throwing meat on the barbie. Right across the region, you’ll find a range of options from commercial campgrounds, free-camps and campsites on public lands.

Irrespective of how you choose to camp, set up along the flowing Ovens, King or Kiewa rivers or within the areas of the valley lakes, Lake William Hovell, Lake Eildon or Lake Sambell.

From your home away from home, it then shouldn’t be hard to grab the boat, kayaks, tubes and fishing rods to get out onto the water.

Campsite setup near vehicle

Set up your camp near the water so you can make the most of the activities. 

Trails

Once you’re set up, the extensive network of off-road trails designed for people of all ages and abilities will excite most. Whether rail trails, bushwalking, mountain biking, horse riding or cycling, their abundance can’t be missed. Can’t decide whether to walk or ride? No worries… there’s also plenty of shared trails to allow for your group to share in the adventure.

Speaking of shared trails, it’s hard to pass up the opportunities along the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail which extends for more than 100 kilometres, uncovering unique parts of the Ovens Valley. The sealed off-road trail, perfect for both walkers and riders, journeys from the flatlands around Wangaratta to the alpine town of Bright with side-routes to Beechworth, Milawa and Wandiligong.

Sign showing the way along the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail

The Rail Trail can be enjoyed by those on foot or bike.

Shared trails also provide a fantastic option to those with accessibility limitations. Whether it be a wheelchair, pram or just young kids, the Rail Trail from Bright to Porepunkah is 6km one way, offering a consistent downhill gradient that starts in beautiful Bright.

It’s a beautiful journey as you make your way along the old railway corridor, with Mount Buffalo revealing itself to the west before you arrive at the quaint surrounds of Porepunkah.

Bird's eye view of the trails to walk in the High Country

When it comes to bushwalking, there is something for everyone here. 

Trail running

Looking to up the pace and get your running legs going? There’s the challenge to test your endurance on the High Country’s 7 Peaks Run. Inclusive of twenty-one colour-coded trails covering more than 200 kilometres across Mount Baw Baw, Mount Buller, Mount Buffalo, Dinner Plain, Mount Hotham, Falls Creek and Lake Mountain.

Bushwalking up to Victoria's second highest mountain.

Mt Hotham to Mt Feathertop is not to be missed. 

Bushwalking

Prefer to slow the pace down and tackle a bushwalk instead? While almost impossible to narrow the choices down, it’s hard to pass up the superb trail which is 11km and 4hrs one way from Mt Hotham to the summit of Mt Feathertop. Reaching Victoria’s second highest mountain is absolutely worth the effort as it follows the sharp, craggy spine of the razorback above the treeline.

Riding a bike along a Victorian trail

If epic bike trails get you going, the high country won’t disappoint. 

Mountain biking

Prefer the option to get on the wheels of a mountain bike? The abundance of trails will have you pumping for weeks. There is Mt Buller’s Australian Alpine Epic Trail which is the first trail in the southern hemisphere to be deemed officially ‘epic’ by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).

Alternatively, there are endless purpose-built trails, notably Hero Trail at Mystic Park in Bright, new long-distance trails in Yackandandah, a network of options in Mt Beauty, a flowy cross-country loop in Beechworth or gravity fed lines, such as Flowtown, at Falls Creek. With many extending up to 5km and beyond, consider booking a shuttle service to make the most of the opportunity. Once you’re pedalling, the options for all skills and experience levels have no boundaries.

But if all this physical activity is getting tiring, there is always the open highway… No better option than winding your way along Victoria’s Great Alpine Road, from Wangaratta right across to Metung on the jaw-droppingly beautiful Gippsland Lakes.

The 339-kilometre adventure along Australia’s highest year-round accessible sealed road takes you right up and close to Victoria’s diverse landscapes.

Ben posing with mountain bike along creek bridge

Take your bike with you so you can explore the trails. 

Adventure

Prefer to navigate an adventure that exposes a unique perspective of the beautiful High Country? The region has you covered here also. There’s an abundance of choices including dirt biking, kayaking, rock climbing, caving, paragliding, hang gliding, hot air ballooning and more.

While it is not a bad idea (often required) to seek a professional operator or at least pay the membership and hire fees, the cost is far outweighed by the awe-inspiring views, defying challenges, and adrenalin filled journeys.

Water flowing over rocks in Victorian creek

Get your adrenalin pumping by adventuring in the high country.

4WD tracks

How can we talk about adventure and not mention the surplus of 4WD tracks on offer? Throughout the High Country are thousands of kilometres of 4WD tracks where many drivers earn stripes across the alpine ranges.

Best known for tracks including Wonnangatta, the Dargo High Plains, Blue Rag, Mount Stirling, while worth every metre, they’re also not for the faint-hearted or inexperienced.

Front of the Rail Trail Cafe in Victoria

The fresh local fare in the region will blow you away. 

Food & drink

Inevitably, there will come a time in the midst of your adventures that you’ll need to refuel with a filling feed and refreshing drink. Thankfully, throughout the High Country, a boutique café, picturesque winery, craft brewery, ice-creamery or home-style bakery isn’t far away.

What stands out is the friendliness of the hospitality on offer. The area is accommodating of families, with spaces to park your bikes, is kind on your wallet and saturated with country charm. The High Country immerses you in a range of delicious options.

Drink beer at the Bright Brewery

Sample the local frothies at the Bright Brewery.

Some of the notable favourites are the Rail Trail Café, Bright Brewery, Beechworth Bakery, Porepunkah Pub, Kiewa Iced Coffee, King Valley Dairy, Brown Brothers Winery and the Bright & Beechworth Ice Creamery.

There is so much to see and visit that hasn’t even been shared, such as the nature of a region with extensive attractions and surprises every time you return. What can’t be ignored is the value of the ongoing growth of the High Country and it’s continued offering to ensure each visit never feels the same.

 

Have you explored the snowy peaks of the High Country in winter?

About the writer...

Ben Trewren

Currently a resident gear-expert here at Snowys, the outdoors has always been Ben’s second home. His adventures have taken him to almost every continent in the world. He’s hiked in the United States, mountain biked in Cambodia, 4WD through South Africa, kayaked in Laos, skydived at Uluru, white water rafted in New Zealand and much more. However, nothing beats home where he’s guided groups across Australia through the Red Centre, along the Great Ocean Rd and onto Kangaroo Island for many years before joining Snowys. Ben continues to involve himself in the outdoors through volunteering with Operation Flinders and Scouts Australia. While many say Ben has a poorly developed sense of fear and no idea of the odds against him, he puts his adventures down to the planning and preparation of his gear that he’s bought from Snowys.

Joined back in November, 2016

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