The word ‘bright’ instantly makes me think of good things. Sunshine, light, boldness, even higher intelligence. It sounds like a positive word. So it seems quite fitting that a lovely little town in the Ovens Valley, Victoria (Australia for those reading from overseas) should be named Bright.
A few fun facts about Bright
- Bright is at an elevation of 319 metres
- It’s at the Base of Mount Buffalo and the Alpine National Park
- At the 2011 census, Bright had a population of 2165 people
- The town was first known as Morse’s Creek
- It was named Bright in 1861 after a politician, John Bright
- Bright is a mecca for both road and mtb riding
- It’s stunning
I don’t believe I had ever heard of Bright until I met my boyfriend back in 2012. He continues to have quite a soft spot for Bright as in 2009, he won the Elite category of the Tour of Bright. This is a three stage tour held annually out of Bright. It consists of a time trial, a road race finishing up Tawonga Gap and a mountain top finish in the third stage up Mount Hotham.
Also, every Adelaide cyclist I met seemed to always go on about Bright and how much of beautiful town it is and how cyclist friendly the entire town is.
So in Autumn 2014, my boyfriend took me there on a road trip so I could finally see what all the fuss was about!
It did not disappoint.
Imagine a small town lit up by deciduous trees all in various shades of colour. Red, yellow amongst the green. The Ovens River winds it’s way around the back of the town with a walking path and plenty of places for picnics just next to it. What a perfect place to relax. However there’s so much more you can do in Bright, especially when you’re a cyclist!
As this region is Alpine Victoria, it can be quite chilly, particularly at the top of the mountains where the weather can both drop in temperature as well as change at any moment. From sunshine, there can come thick fog, storms and high winds. It’s important to be prepared.
The nearby major road climbs are Mount Buffalo -18 km at 6% average, Falls Creek-30 km at 4% and Mount Hotham-30 km at 4% also. However there’s also both sides of Tawonga Gap which are a bit shorter but still a solid climb either direction, the back of Falls which I haven’t done but by all accounts it is a beast.
The climbs are all a little different. Mount Buffalo is lovely because it’s a constant gradient however it’s a bit steeper. Falls is undulating for the first half then a constant climb to the top at a great gradient as well. Mount Hotham is one many speak of as there are steeper sections such as CRB Hill and The Meg. However mentally this one can be broken into three sections which makes it feel much more achievable. The first ten km is solid but steady with only The Meg to conquer and it’s very short. The second ten km is almost a false flat, a perfect chance to recover the legs ready for the final ten km which has plenty of steep pinches both up and down but on a clear day, offers stunning views right around the mountain.
Only recently, my Mum, the famous Zwift star Sharron Yaxley, my step-dad Tony Yaxley, my boyfriend and our good friend Craig went on a Easter long weekend adventure, based in Mount Beauty. Our friend Jonny and his partner Jen live just out of Bright and together we had a bit of a training camp going on!
Whilst my mum seemed more concerned that she couldn’t keep up with the boys, who I might add have all raced at a reasonably high level, I reminded her that it’s pretty special for me to be able to ride my bike up mountains with my mum who is well into her 50s! My mum is a true inspiration, someone who has fought ill health and is now smashing out 400-600 km weeks, mostly racing her fellow Zwifters and works full-time and is the healthiest I’ve ever seen her. She only took up riding seven or eight years ago and now she rides more than anyone else I know!
At Bright’s doorstep they have the Mystic Mountain Bike Park. This is a huge park with loads of single track encompassing cross country and downhill trails for the real shredders. At Mount Beauty, there is the Big Hill Mountain Bike Park which is offers trails from easy grade, green trails to the hard core black diamond trails. I don’t have much experience off-road in this region but I did visit Bright on a cyclocross weekend last year and this showcased some beautiful parks. I would love to bring my mtb here for a weekend to explore as these trails are famously spoken about!
As cyclists, many of us laugh about how ‘we ride to eat’ but many also love a good brew. There are a range of cafes and restaurants in Bright and Mount Beauty. Our personal favourite though would have to be Bright Velo, a cafe and accommodation owned and operated by former Australian Road Champion, Wayne Hildred. Wayne won titles back in 1982 and 1986 and his cafe is full of cycling memorabilia and he makes a decent brew with plenty of yummy food on offer. Given the cafe was created for cyclists, there’s ample bike parking out front as well as a range of seating inside and outside to suit both warm days and the fresher ones.
Time of year
Given it’s location, Bright becomes a mecca for skiing in Winter with plenty of snow up the mountains! Summer and Autumn would be my recommendation for time of year to travel to this gorgeous area if you are into your cycling.
Beautiful Bright, you will not be disappointed.