Nestled in the Victorian High Country, at the south eastern end of the Ovens Valley, is the picturesque town of Bright. It’s a small town known for its beautiful landscape and access to surrounding mountains. It’s an outdoorsy sort of place making it attractive to bikers, hikers, paragliders and the like. There’s wineries, orchards and restaurants boasting local fare with flare. And across the region you’ll find a plethora of events throughout the year to spice up your touring calendar. There’s one such event that takes the cake though. It’s one that’s a feast for the eyes, the tastebuds and the soul. And that’s the Bright Autumn Festival. For ten days every April/May the locals host a celebration of the stunning autumn colours and delicious seasonal produce of the valleys of the High Country. It’s one for ‘leaf peeping’ enthusiasts, those passionate about gardening, nature and colour, and generally for anyone who wants to have a fabulous time in an equally fabulous place.
Here’s why you should go to the Bright Autumn Festival…
There’s 17 Open Gardens set for exploring – In and around Bright, and further into the High Country, there are numerous private gardens that are open to the public. Each garden offers something unique, but all come together in their display of splendid autumn colours and produce. There’s wild gardens, formal gardens, an olive grove and farm gardens, exotic and rare trees, ornamental gardens, and gardens focused on sustainable food sources. This is a great chance for any gardening enthusiast to take a sticky beak ‘over the fence’ and be inspired by some very talented gardeners.
Celebrations culminate on the Gala Day – The day not to be missed, the Gala celebration is the high point of the festival! The main street comes alive with brass and highland bands, street stalls, markets, craft displays and the Grand Parade. Each year the parade takes on a different theme with 2018’s theme being ‘Our Town, Your Town”. Local businesses and community groups display floats of all variety’s and the street entertainment is second-to-none. Later in the day there’s even a round of ‘Bright’s Got Talent’ where you just might spot a rising local star.
Your taste buds will love you – If you’re one to be tempted by local produce and farmers market’s then look no further. During the festival you can delight in an abundance of locally grown and produced specialties, and some super tasty culinary experiences. Treat your palate to gourmet delights such as craft beer and cider, wines, olive oil, crunchy apples and nuts & seeds of all varieties. Try your hand at cooking demos, delve into the food stalls, and relish the sights and smells at the markets. Tend to over-indulge? Not to worry you can get straight into those gardens to walk off some of the calories!
There’s art and then there’s art – There’s no doubt that you’ll be dazzled by the beautiful autumn colours. Rich reds, burnt oranges and warming ochres can be spotted at every turn. But if you prefer a little bit more ‘man-made’ in your art, then you’ll go no further than the festival’s Autumn Art Show. This is one of Australia’s oldest and longest running art shows, spanning a whopping 50 years. There’s up to a thousand high quality paintings and drawings included in the exhibit. And you’ll be treated to works of art from some of Australia’s biggest names!
You’ll find nuts a plenty – In conjunction with the Autumn Festival, just down the road in Wandiligong there’s the Wandi Nut Festival. April and May is harvest time and there’s an abundance of walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, apples and blackberries to be collected. They’re there for the cracking, eating, roasting, cooking and preserving. It’s a great chance to join in a celebration of tasty Autumn produce, meet local growers and take in a cooking demo at the only nut festival of its kind in Australia.
There’s a bush dance – If you’ve never been to a bush dance, then it’s time to grab yourself a partner and brush off your boots in preparation. This community fundraiser is held at the Bright Brewery, it’s a great ‘knee’s up’ with a live band and official dance caller. Can’t quite remember the ‘Heel & Toe Polka’? Not to worry, those in the know will have you doing the ‘Jubilee Jig’ with the best of them!
It’s a photographers paradise – There’s a whole weekend dedicated to getting that perfect shot of the glorious autumnal colours that are on display. ‘Instameet’ hosts workshops and excursions to the best locations with local photographers in the know. You may be a seasoned photographer or a novice with passion. Regardless, ‘Instameet’ provides an insight into how, when and where to snap those ultimate picture perfect images of the spectacular displays Mother Nature offers in the High Country in Autumn.
The Bright Autumn Festival Festival is happening this weekend in Victoria’s Alpine High Country. Fun Over Fifty has two dedicated departures to the festival every year. To be waitlisted for 2019 contact us now.