One of the best things about the Victorian destinations is that, they change with the seasons. For instance, when we came to visit Beechworth a few months back, it was at the peak of summer. As lovely as it was, we always knew that the Northeastern side of Victoria is best known for its autumn hues and snowy mountains. Hence, we came back to see a different flavour.
For starters, here are the Australian seasons in a nutshell:
We headed off to Bright on the 14th of May and looking at our very trusty chart above, it’s at the tail end of autumn. It only means two things – one, we are a bit too late for those magnificent autumn colours, and two, we are too early for the winter snow. Or are we?
There’s only one way to find out!
Approximately 315km Northeast of Melbourne CBD, I consider this to be in the long drive category and so it is best to spend at least one night if you are from anywhere around the 3-hour drive radius. Majority of the drive will be on the Hume Freeway, a long, straight 110kph freeway.
Some-not-so-important-fact: In 2014-2016, I spent more nights on the Hume Freeway than home. You’ll always have a special place in me, HF. 😀
It’s almost winter and the outdoors can be unforgiving, so no tents for now. And it’s not about the kids, they can take the cold better than most of us. In fact, they love it. We’re just loving the cabin life to be honest.
We booked a 3-bedroom cabin in Big4 Porepunkah, just 8 minutes away from Bright. Goes to say, we loved our last stay at Big4 Port Fairy.
It’s pretty much the same in terms of amenities. The 3-bedroom cabin is probably the biggest one that they have and comfortable enough for us, 3 families with kids.
Considering that the plan, as always, is to spend most of the time outdoors, this cabin is just right.
That last photo (with the wife doing some “for the gram” pose) is part of the Ovens River and if it wasn’t for the cold, it would have been an epic day for the kids. I’d say this river will give Big4 Porepunkah an edge especially on the warmer seasons.
Also, I’ll give you a heads-up. If you happen to book that cabin, don’t go playing boardgames after 11:00pm. Maybe you can, but make sure you don’t laugh your hearts out. Maybe you can get away with chess. You’ve been warned.
And oh, the wifi was so 90s in terms of speed. There’s not much 4g and 5g either. But that’s probably a good thing, isn’t it? Again, just a heads-up.
Nearby Attractions and Activities
This trip has been booked a few months back and everyone was excited until the weather forecasts were out – it was terrible. I already imagined us being curled up in the cabin, bingeing on Netflix horror movies for 2 days and 3 nights.
We’ll never cancel though, we’ve had a bad weather trip before and we still managed to have great fun indoors – nothing a few guitars and awesome company can’t fix. 😉
So the show went on.
The first thing in the itinerary is of course, lunch. The Howitt Park is a good spot for parking, meals, view of the Ovens River, and as a starting point for a quick walk around town. Also, the playground gave the kids their much needed stretch after a 3-hour ride. This is a good touchdown point.
Straight after lunch, it was time to explore the heart of the town. I’m no stranger though, I’ve been here back in 2018 for my very first snow experience at Mt. Hotham. That was one hell of a wild day, it was great. Maybe I’ll blog that one as well. Maybe.
Here are some of the town’s icons and landmarks:
On the 2nd day, Saturday, we didn’t have a clear plan due to the weather forecast. But with the sun looking promising in the morning, we decided to see what’s up at Mt. Buffalo. It’s a 45-minute drive from our cabin, a winding uphill road.
It was 3 degrees and I was a little bothered because I didn’t load up on Alpine diesel again. I tried one servo and they only had the regular diesel. Maybe it wasn’t that cold yet. Anyway..
With no GPS and mobile coverage in the area, we got a little lost. And because we split up with the gang, can’t ask for directions either. The good news is, you take a wrong turn in Mt. Buffalo and you’ll find some easter eggs along the way, like this one – Lake Catani.
Just beside the lake is a campground which you should consider for your next camping trip, if you haven’t yet. It’s closed though, temporarily I hope. Nonetheless, you would love to wake up to this view.
It’s time to find our way to the rendezvous, the Cathedral Saddle. Wasn’t really that hard, we just followed the road ahead. You know those times when you don’t have a clue where you’re at, but you’re not really worried (at least not yet) because you know you’ll find your way? That’s pretty much it.
Finally, we made it to the Cathedral Saddle and everyone was there. Turns out they got lost for a while as well. So it’s not just us. Good! 😀
I think this is the highlight of our day. The snow was thick enough for good winter snaps and more importantly, thick enough for the toboggan. The kids were going crazy over it. All the laughter, the chant-like, “Again! Again!” and “This is the best day ever!” are just priceless.
I must admit, it’s way more awesome than my palwa (coconut something) days. 😀
The Oval Picnic Area
Another good thing about getting ahead of the peak season is that, there’s not much people around. We literally had this picnic ground all to ourselves.
With plenty of room for the kids to run around, picnic tables, a fire pit for a BBQ or camp oven, it’s a good place to pass the time.. and snowball fights.
The Gorge / Bents Lookout
With a 1300-meter elevation, this spot offers the most breathtaking view at Mt. Buffalo, I think.
Though the fence is reassuring, I get a little uncomfortable every time I look down below. Even scarier waving your phone around for photos. You do not want to drop your phone/camera in here.
Apart from that, I did take some time to marvel at this truly magnificent view.
It’s our last day, we’ve checked out, what’s left to do is head down to one of my favourites – Beechworth.
Just around 30 minutes away, we dropped by for some coffee and meat pies. That’s one of my regrets last time we were there, we were fazed by the long line at the iconic Beechworth Bakery. Not gonna make the same mistake.
And while we were there, might as well drop by at the Beechworth Correctional Centre. Just a good addition to our previous Beechworth trip. I promised to be back, didn’t I? 🙂
So is mid-May too late for Autumn?
If you are into photography, or you are after your best Instagram photo ever, then yes, it is a little late. Make no mistake about it, the place still looks beautiful, but I am certain that we’ve already missed the most colourful days of the season at this point.
There are a few trees that haven’t finished shedding though. Those slackers must have procrastinated and should be rightfully named after me. Hold on, should we call them.. wait for it.. procrastreenators? Sorry not sorry.
Next. Is it too early for some snow?
Yes, it is a little too early but just like us, you can get lucky. That said, it is best to bring in your winter clothes and any snow gear you have regardless of the weather forecasts. For a wise man once said, “when it rains, it snows” – or something like that.
That’s it for now. We will be back because there are so many things we have yet to do around here. One example is, biking. Bright is known to have one of the best bike trails in the state, if not the best. Just like the Beechworth Bakery, I’ll park this in my Ragrets Section for now.
Lastly, I would like to thank the ladies for organising this whole trip, booking and planning the itineraries. It was a great weekend. Credit to where credit is due. 🙂
See you in the next adventure!
We, as parents, live for moments like this: