Overview

Wangaratta to Metung
310 kilometres, about 5 hours

This drive’s got it all. Explore one of the most spectacular corners of Australia via the iconic 339 km Great Alpine Road following the stunning Ovens Valley from Wangaratta to Harrietville, up and over the alpine resort of Mount Hotham then down to the lovely coastal village of Metung on the beautiful Gippsland Lakes.

The journey weaves through vine-covered hillsides with welcoming cellar doors offering award-winning cool climate wines, farm gates selling fresh, seasonal produce, super cute villages stacked with accommodation to suit every pocket, many buzzing cafes, breweries and distilleries, topped off with jawdropping panoramic views along the way.

Make the journey year-round, whether you prefer warm weather bushwalking, cycling and camping or high-adrenaline adventures, winter snow action or lazy summer days by the river or the lake. Whatever the season, get ready for an epic road trip that ticks all the boxes for an unforgettable holiday.

  • Wangaratta to Bright

    83 kilometres, about 1 hour

    Start in Wangaratta, the gateway to the Ovens Valley and home to lush gardens, stately River Red Gums and riverside cafes. A great time to visit is during the Melbourne Cup Weekend when the city really kicks up its heels at the fabulous Festival of Jazz & Blues.

    Making mouth-watering memories

    Pull into the Gapsted Winery to soak up the views over an alfresco lunch from the cellar door cafe. Ten minutes away, Myrtleford is a pretty little gem of a place with a stunning avenue of golden poplars lining the town entrance. Discover delicious fare at cafes like Cafe Fez at the amazing Red Ramia Moroccan bazaar and Coffee Chakra for house roasted coffee, gourmet brekkie/lunch and mouthwatering curries.

    Alpine adventuring

    Take time to explore Mount Buffalo National Park with its unique rock formations and choice of many green season walking tracks to waterfalls, massive granite formations and lookouts with views of the Australian Alps. The Bright Adventure Co and Adventure Guides Australia offer all kinds of guided adventures here. Try caving or abseiling down the Cathedral Peak, followed by a cooling dip in Lake Catani. This beautiful national park is also snow covered in winter and a popular place for family tobogganing or cross country skiing.

    This leg ends at Bright, an all-season holiday favourite famous for its grand deciduous trees and stunning autumn display. Celebrate the first stage of your road trip with a casual beer and bite at the Bright Brewery or the sensational local favourite, Tomahawks. For something fancier, head to Elm Dining or try Reed and Co Distillery for a gin flight and stand out food by award-winning chef, Hamish Nugent.

    Side trips

    Golden Heritage Drive
    Turn left at Tarrawingee and head to Beechworth, 20 minutes away via the C315. This gorgeous little nugget of a town was built on wealth from the gold rush of the mid-19th Century. Explore the fantastic Historic & Cultural Precinct, with its links to the Ned Kelly story,  then stroll around the many boutique shops, cafes and cellar doors lining the historic main streets. Ox & Hound Bistro and Amandhi’s both offer great lunch menus. Do seek out a glass of one of the award-winning drops from the Beechworth wine region or sample a tasting paddle at either of the two craft breweries in town - Bridge Road Brewers and Billson’s.

    Gourmet Food and Wine Drive
    Just a 20 minute detour right from the Great Alpine Road at Tarrawingee is the small but perfectly formed gourmet hub of Milawa. This is a great place to fill the esky for the trip ahead. It’s home to the famed Brown Brothers Cellar Door and excellent Patricia’s Table restaurant, the Milawa Cheese Factory, Milawa Bakery & Kitchen, The Olive Shop, Milawa Mustards, Gamze Smokehouse & Restaurant and Walkabout Apiaries. Just a couple of kms down the road is Oxley, the gateway to the King Valley wine region, and location of the stunning Sam Miranda cellar door and restaurant (lunch here is also highly recommended).

    Mount Buffalo Drive
    At Porepunkah take the C535 to Mount Buffalo and the top of Mount Buffalo Gorge for fantastic views of the High Country and the Alps, and numerous walking tracks for majestic vistas. In winter, hire cross-country skis or snowshoes and explore the stunning landscape, and in summer choose from the area's famous adventure activities such as mountain biking, paragliding and hang gliding.

  • Bright to Omeo

    110 kilometres, about 2 hours

    The second leg of the Great Alpine Road gives the route its name, travelling from leafy Bright into the High Country's breathtaking alpine area and onwards to the historic Gippsland town of Omeo.

    Upwards to the Alps

    In winter the drive from Bright to picture-perfect Harrietville offers stunning views of the snow capped Australian Alps. Harrietville is also a great base for tackling some of the best alpine walking of the region, and offers great pubs with excellent food, drinks and accommodation as well as ski hire and shuttles. From here the road climbs up to Mount Hotham, Victoria's highest alpine village.

    When the season opens, test your snow skills on 245 hectares of ski area, including downhill and cross-country trails for beginners as well as experienced skiers and snowboarders.

    In green season, walk through fields of wildflowers and enjoy spectacular views from Danny's Lookout to the summit of Mount Feathertop, over the Alpine National Park and as far as Falls Creek and Mount Buffalo. Discover the amazing Razorback Trail linking Mt Hotham to the summit of Mount Feathertop, Victoria's second-highest mountain.

    Just 10 minutes away is the stunning architecturally designed village of Dinner Plain, nestled in among the snow gums. The well marked trails for walkers and mountain bikers in summer are fantastic for cross country skiers in winter. This is a great place for family holidays with lots of accommodation, places to eat, an Onsen spa, and a beginner ski slope for winter fun.

    What goes up must come down

    After conquering alpine heights, it's time to descend to Omeo, once the site of one of Victoria's richest goldfields, now a service centre for cattle, sheep and timber industries. Lush grazing fields and vistas out to the Snowy Mountains will make a lasting impression, as will the gold-rush-era buildings.

    Side trips

    Great Alpine Discovery Drive
    An alternative route from Bright follows the C536 to Tawonga Gap, the C531 to Mt Beauty, Bogong, Falls Creek and across the Bogong High Plains. Then joins the C543 to Anglers Rest and Omeo. This road (closed in winter) boasts historic cattlemen's huts and breathtaking views across the High Country, before connecting with the Omeo Highway to wind past the notable Blue Duck Inn at Anglers Rest and descend into Omeo.

    Bogong Alpine Way
    For superb scenery, veer off onto the 230-kilometre Bogong Alpine Way, on the Bogong High Plains Road, which loops through Bright, Mount Beauty, Bogong, Falls Creek, heads over Dinner Plain and Mount Hotham and returns to Bright.

  • Omeo to Metung

    120 kilometres, about 1 hour 40 minutes

    Depart Omeo, and follow the Great Alpine Road south past Bairnsdale, East Gippsland's only city, and on to Metung, starting point for exploring the spectacular Gippsland Lakes.

    Travel temptations

    First stops: Swifts Creek and Ensay, small towns with a big history of mining, grazing and timber milling, and a modern-day passion for freshly baked goods, just-picked fruit, and local wines. Next up is Bruthen, a rustic village overlooking the Tambo River. Try a refreshing ale at the local brewery before exploring the town's immaculate heritage buildings.

    Bustling Bairnsdale

    Your last stop before the seemingly endless expanse of the Gippsland Lakes is Bairnsdale. Set on the banks of the Mitchell River, this inland port settlement is now a major gateway to Victoria's east.

    Pay a visit to St Mary's Roman Catholic Church, noting the interior, painted in the 1930s by Francesco Floreani. While in town, look out for annual musical and sporting events, or explore the Mitchell River silt jetties that extend 8 kilometres into nearby Lake King. Fuel up for upcoming lake exploration at local cafes and restaurants.

    Life on the Lakes

    You’re on the doorstep of the Gippsland Lakes system, the biggest expanse of inland waterways in the Southern Hemisphere, consisting of five main lakes, fed by the waters of four major rivers, and fringed by the Ninety Mile Beach. With more than 400 square kilometres of lakes, rivers and lagoons, this region is an ideal location for all forms of water-based fun, sport and exceptional fishing.

    Carry on to Metung, a picture-book village on the shores of Bancroft Bay and Lake King, where the Great Alpine Road touring route ends. Life assumes a relaxed pace here. Follow your nose to harbourside restaurants for quality seafood and wine; spend a day floating around in a boat; and stroll the water's edge at sunset, cooking up your next adventure.

    Side trips

    Buchan Caves Reserve
    From Bruthen take the C620 for a scenic 30-minute drive to Buchan. Just past the town centre lies the picturesque gateway to the Buchan Caves Reserve, where you can enjoy camping, bushwalking and wildlife spotting. Inside the ancient caves lies a honeycomb of spectacular limestone formations. Guided tours take you for an easy walk, exploring the caverns and calcite-rimmed pools. On a hot day, take the plunge in the Buchan Caves Reserve pool, spring-fed from an underground stream with the purest water imaginable.

    Wine and Gold Drive
    An alternative route from Omeo to Bairnsdale runs through Cassillis, a small town that was once a thriving mining community. Explore the pretty valley on foot and see relics of the gold-mining era, including the unmissable Oriental Claims walking trails, the Cassilis Cemetery and the old goldmine. Call into a local winery to sample the area’s fruit and berry wines and mead, and snack on top-notch baked goods in the town of Swifts Creek.

    Gippsland Lakes Drive
    Departing Bruthen, take the C620 to Nowa Nowa and the A1 to Lakes Entrance to watch the daily catch being unloaded or to cast a line yourself. Continue along the A1 and Nungurner Road to Metung, and stop for a stroll along lakeshore. Then take the C606 to Swan Reach, the A1 to Bairnsdale and the C604 to Paynesville, a perfect base to explore the Gippsland Lakes and walk Ninety Mile Beach.

Need a car?