Victoria's High Country is a perfect place to escape the city for a short, rejuvenating break. Blessed with sublime valley and mountain scenery, the region offers an amazing diversity of fresh, local produce, a sophisticated dining scene and award-winning cool-climate wines.
Rich in history, the High Country is also one of Australia's best recreational cycling destinations. More than 250 kilometres of safe, sealed off-road rail trails wind through vineyards, farmland and picture-perfect villages.
Bring the bikes, pack your appetite and get set to explore this beautiful world away.
High Country Getaway
Set off on a drive to remember as you immerse yourself in the scenery of the Great Alpine Road. Follow the beautiful Ovens River valley, taking in Myrtleford on the way to Bright near the foot of Mount Hotham.
Famous for its stunning display of autumn colour, Bright is one of the region's most popular villages. There's a great range of accommodation to suit all pockets, so base yourself here for the night and waste no time fuelling up at one of the many excellent cafes, bars, or cellar doors. Settle in at Bright Brewery for a relaxing afternoon or pop down to Reed & Co. where you can sample distinctly Australian gin inspired by the local landscape.
The good news is that the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail is right there to work off your lunchtime excesses. The High Country's iconic, sealed cycle trail hugs the valley all the way to Wangaratta, nearly 100 kilometres away. Don't panic if you didn't bring your own treadlie - you can hire a standard, a tandem or an electric bike at any one of three cycle shops in Bright. Porepunkah is a perfect distance (six kilometres) away for an easy, mostly flat ride that combines stunning views of Mount Buffalo with a great late afternoon tipple and cheese platter at Ringer Reef Winery.
High Country Getaway
Kick off your second day in the High Country by making your way from Bright to Beechworth, about 45 minutes away. This excellently preserved gold rush town punches above its weight when it comes to gourmet offerings. You'll find several excellent cafes as well as Provenance, one of regional Australia's best restaurants that consistently earns owner-chef Michael Ryan multiple "chefs hats" and best regional wine list gongs.
Wander around the town to admire the stunning gold rush architecture and get to grips with the fascinating local history in the Beechworth Historic and Cultural Precinct. Join a Ned Kelly Walking Tour to discover the infamous bushranger's close links to Beechworth locations, including the historic courthouse where he and members of his gang stood trial.
As always in Beechworth, it comes back to the food and drink. Wind down at Bridge Road Brewers, Ben Kraus' brewery that serves up a fantastic range of craft ales made with locally grown hops and a menu starring some of the best pizza funghi you'll ever eat.
High Country Getaway
By now you're probably keen to start hitting the region's acclaimed cellar doors and loading up on farm-fresh produce. Make your way from Beechworth to Milawa (about half an hour's drive) and discover a village brimming with food and wine, including the Milawa Cheese Factory and the famous Brown Brothers cellar door. Brown Brothers is also home to award-winning Patricia's Table, where head chef Douglas Elder makes magic with superb, seasonal locally grown produce.
Milawa is the jumping off point for the divine King Valley, home to several Italian families whose wines, especially prosecco and sangiovese, have become synonymous with the region. Five of these family wineries teamed up some years ago to create the popular Prosecco Road food and wine trail.
Spend a leisurely afternoon tasting the drops and meeting the winemakers at the cellar doors dotted along the valley. Indulge in a prosecco cocktail and game of bocce at Dal Zotto Wines Cellar Door, taste local varietals and experience the warm family atmosphere at Pizzini Wines, or tuck into a late lunch at the Chrismont restaurant, with its 180-degree vistas of the valley and surrounding ranges.