Visiting a quaint little town in autumn to observe the changing colour of the local foliage seems a very American sort of an activity, doesn’t it? The type of thing you might do if you were a New Yorker with a free weekend, a litre of Starbucks, and a new Burberry scarf you really wanted to snap a photo with while apple-picking.
Well, you don’t need to take an international flight to experience a magical alpine autumn, as the historic town of Bright in Victoria is hosting the annual Bright Autumn Festival for the first time since 2019.
Running from Friday, April 22 to Sunday, May 1 the Bright Autumn Festival combines the magic of the town’s seasonal golden glow with the absolute best of the community.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing Bright before, it’s located 321km northeast of Melbourne (a four hour drive), sits in the Alpine Shire within the lush Ovens Valley on the traditional land of the Waveroo people.
On any regular day, Bright is easy on the eyes. Surrounded on all sides by deep green slopes of forest that could almost pass as European, if not for the corrugated iron-roofed bakeries and country pubs. Unlike a lot of Australian towns, which are usually girt by evergreen gum trees, Bright turns golden for autumn due to a lush variety of European trees that dial up the town’s charm factor from ‘adorable’ to ‘phenomenal.’
Planted as far back as 1866 by homesick settlers, oak, chestnut, elm, maple, dogwood and poplar trees took to Bright’s oceanic climate and continue to draw tourists as the leaves fade and fall.
First celebrated in 1962 to mark Bright’s Centenary, the Bright Autumn festival is one of the oldest continuous running festivals in Australia with only 2020 and 2021 missed due to COVID. Now they are back in business and have some special things planned for those who would be content enough to gaze at some amber and ermine leaves.
What To Do In Bright, Victoria
Those sucked in by the scenery will love the 14 wonderful gardens open to the public including formal gardens, wild gardens, and sustainable gardens featuring local gardeners who are all too happy to share their wisdom.
If at any point you need to escape indoors, you will find natural beauty on display in the Bright Autumn Art Show in the Bright Art Gallery and Cultural Centre, featuring more than 650 pieces from some of Australia’s best known artists.
Newer traditions include the Wandiligong Nut Festival, just a short drive south of Bright, where locals go nuts for chestnuts, pistachios, and walnuts prepared in all manner of ways. Foodie purists will love the sight and sensations of chestnuts roasting in a great big pan over a grand fire, while the wilder variety of nut-based beverages are sure to delight the more adventurous members of the alternative milk crowd.
By far the most attended Autumn Festival event is Bright Gala Day, which will take place Saturday, April 30. Gala Day sees the usually sleepy main street of Bright transform into a bustling market centre before giving way to the Autumn Festival Parade. With live music all day and family-friendly activities, if you only have one day to get your autumn fix, make it Bright Gala Day.
Bright Autumn Festival 2022 runs from Friday April 22 to Sunday May 1. Find out more here.
Benny is a travel, food, and comedy writer from an up and coming seaside town called Sydney.