Autumn Leaves in the Alpine Valleys
Autumn in the most popular time to visit Victoria’s Alpine Valleys as the region is ablaze with the copper hues of the autumn leaves. While summer is a great time to visit for hiking and water sports, and winter for skiing and all things snow-related, autumn is the perfect time of year to plan a roadtrip through this picturesque region to enjoy the changing colours of the season.
In Japan, people take this seasonal phenomenon to a new level, and there’s a word for admiring the autumn leaves. ‘Momijigari’, which roughly translates to ‘red-leaf hunting’ is the term used to describe the activity of searching for the most striking shades of leaf. It has been popular in Japan for centuries and this autumnal pilgrimage is now an annual phenomenon in the Alpine Valleys, too.
Below is our foliage forecast for the best spots to experience the magic of regional Victoria in all of its autumn glory.
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The best spots to see the autumn leaves in Bright and Beyond
The colours that herald the change of season sweep up the Alpine Valley all the way from Wangaratta to the historic towns of Beechworth and to Bright. April, May and June are the best times to plan a trip and escape for a weekend or a shorter break to see the autumn leaves. Here’s some of the places where you can almost guarantee an instagramable moment!
Bright is at the centre of the action for visitors coming to admire the autumn leaves. Cars make the pilgrimage into town along the Great Alpine Road, then line up on Delaney Avenue in town to take in the magnificent autumn display. At this time of year, large deciduous trees, including oaks, elms, poplars and Japanese maples, paint the town in shades of crimson and bright yellow. Bright is a gateway to national parks and ski slopes, so if you prefer to feel the crisp autumn wind on your face, there are plenty of walking and bicycle paths around town and further afield that take in lookouts over the valley and mountains.
Each year, the Bright Autumn Festival is a 10-day celebration of the wonderful autumn colours and autumnal produce of the valleys of Victoria’s Alpine High Country. The 2021 festival, including the Gala Day and Flea Market, have been cancelled based on government advice about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and the complexity of hosting large public gatherings in a COVIDSafe manner.
The good news is that some Open Gardens will proceed. Check the festival website for the latest details and all that’s on offer.
For accommodation options in Bright, check out our guide on where to stay in Bright.
Beechworth is one of Victoria’s best-preserved gold rush towns. Four million ounces of gold were officially mined in 1852, and the prosperity generated by Beechworth gold has left a longstanding legacy. Beechworth has a remarkable architectural heritage, and many of the town’s grand gold rush-era buildings are listed by the National Trust, from hotels to miners’ cottages and the jail where bushranger Ned Kelly was imprisoned. An ideal way to experience all the full autumn colours is via the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail. The trail starts in Beechworth and meanders all the way to Bright with incredible autumn foliage at every turn. Tour de Vines offer a six-night gourmet cycling tour where you can cycle the entire length of the trail and enjoy world-class food and wine along the way.
Just outside the historic gold rush town of Beechworth lies tiny Stanley, known for its apple, hazelnut and walnut orchards and bucolic autumn scenes. Stroll through town and pick up produce from surrounding farm gates to take back to your cosy cottage, BnB or hotel.
Another stop on the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail is the town of Myrtleford, which offers a taste of local produce, cellar doors to visit and an insight into the area’s rich goldmining history. Myrtleford is also home to La Fiera festival, which is a celebration of all things Italian. The outdoor food and wine festival will take place this year 14-16 May. Check the festival website for registration and program updates.
Plan your visit to Myrtleford with our guide to the best things to do in Myrtleford.
The most Instagrammable spots for #autumnleaves
The blazing colours of autumn are in full force and we round up the best places to capture it all on camera.
- Delany Ave, Bright
Bright’s main road is lined with deciduous trees that paint the town in a striking autumn palette. It’s interesting to note that the trees in Delany Avenue were intentionally planted in such a way that burning red leaves of the scarlet oaks alternate with the dark green needles of the Himalayan cedar trees to create a striking contrast. The Great Alpine Road that leads to Bright is another stunning photo opportunity and you’ll likely see other cars pulled over on the side of the road.
Strike a pose in front of Feathertop Wines at Porepunkah, where winemaker Kel Boynton and his family planted additional trees along the Rail Trail to compliment the single line of trees planted by the council on the other side, making this stretch of the Great Alpine Road truly magnificent. The vineyard is a site blessed with incredible natural beauty and is a stunning backdrop for any photo. It overlooks the alpine peaks of Mt Buffalo, is surrounded by native forests, rolling hills and located on the Murray To Mountains Rail Trail. It’s also the place where Jo Marsh first started making wine when she moved to the Alpine Valleys.
- Tower Hill Lookout
Drive up the unsealed road to Tower Hill Lookout for a panoramic view of the entire valley. It’s a peaceful spot for a bird’s eye view of Bright, and the track starts at the turn off on Great Alpine Road approximately 2 kilometres from Bright town centre on the Porepunkah side.
- Back Porepunkah Road
This scenic route that connects Bright and Porepunkah is extremely photogenic. Our tip is the section that runs alongside the golf course, you can catch some gorgeous sunlight filtering through the leaves in the late afternoon.
If you are heading our way, don’t forget to add a visit to the Billy Button Cellar Door on to your trip. Our Bright Cellar Door is centrally located with a range of delicious cheese and artisan products on offer, not to forget all of the regional wines for you to discover. We were awarded Gourmet Traveller WINE, Star Cellar Door and Best Small Cellar Door in Alpine Valleys for 2020 and 2021. Don’t forget about our second cellar door in Myrtleford with our friends from Bush Track Wines – located on the Great Alpine Road, there’s plenty to discover there too! Get snapping and we’ll see you on your travels.