Amanda has not had much luck when it comes to birthdays over the past 5-6 years with plenty of interruptions to halt the celebrations. This year we weren’t going to let Lady Luck play her hand! Bright had been on our radar for over a year and with her birthday falling on a Saturday we decided to head up to the highlands.
I had a general idea of the sights I wanted to take Amanda and the kids whilst on the drive and also within Bright, but we really left the day open to anything, as you need to when you are travelling with the kids (if you want to stay sane). On the freeway to Wangaratta, my GPS chimed in and gave us a route update saving us time. Right from the start it seemed luck would be on our side! The re-route was taking us up the Snow Road through Milawa, the town where we got married.
Under the marriage tree
It has been a couple of years since we’d been back there, not since Fletcher was a waddling toddler, so of course we stopped off at Lindenwarrah to show the kids the front gardens where we said our vows under the large tree. We tried to explain the significance of the spot “…and this is where Mummy and Dadd–” before WOOSH the kids, free from the car, sprinted off along the grass where we first walked as husband and wife, a significance not lost on us as we reflected on how much has changed since that day back in 2009. Lindenwarrah is such a beautiful spot and the staff there are amazing! We love coming back there for a drink/lunch to reminisce, especially with Brown Brothers across the road too, but today we were only passing through, so we rounded up the kids and got back on the road to Bright.
Bright was a smaller town than I remembered, but no less impactful with a Ye Olde Heritage feel about the place. You get the feeling of being out in the wild frontier with the surrounding mountains, whilst also having the creature comforts of the cafes, restaurants and a large variety of stores to cover most interests. We skipped past all of these for now though as we made our way to the Bright Brewery for a drink and some lunch. As we headed out the back to settle on one of their outdoor tables the kids eyes lit up as the huge playground area down the slope next to the river came into view.
With lunch now delayed (there was no stopping them after the long drive) we let the kids run a muck in the playground, which thankfully both kids could enjoy with a variety of equipment for kids of all ages! Wanting to check the river out and the opposite side we pried the kids away and took them for a stroll over the walk bridge next to the designated swimming area (for Summer not the end of Winter with the river freezing and raging from all the melting snow). Crossing the bridge gave us a chance to explain to the kids about the current, how the water flows and where it all comes from, which was great for Fletch as he seems to be a bottomless pit for new information lately. We headed up to check out some of the caravan parks on the opposite side giving the kids a chance to test out their gumboots on the many puddles. Definitely a great spot to camp being so close to the town, playground and Brewery.
Ovens River from the walk bridge
Back at the Bright Brewery we enjoyed a surprisingly civilised lunch, not normally the case with a four and two year old. Turns out the most challenging thing was not keeping them still but trying to decide on which of the hundreds* of beers and ciders to choose from (*numbers are an estimate and possibly exaggerated). Needless to say I settled on one of the porters, Amanda a cider and we enjoyed the calm of the kids and the outdoor area with the river’s flow performing some relaxing background music in tune with the birds. It wasn’t to last long, kids fed means one of two things. They get tired or get a second wind. Their second wind kicked in and rather than head back to the playground as they desired we went back into town and whilst Amanda spent some time going through some of the clothes shops and antique stores, I kept the kids entertained. But in reality it was all leading up to one shop in particular a rad little shop full of every type of lolly and confectionary you can imagine! The kids (and I) were frothing at the bit to get into Bright’s Old Fashioned Lolly Shop. Fletch wanted one of everything, but settled on a huge lollypop (which for the most part ended up in the bin a couple of days later) and Immy and I shared some coconut rough, yummmm!
Now treated up I wanted to take the family up to a couple of lookouts, the first being Huggins Lookout. On a wet day the drive would be a little precarious if not in a 4WD, but luckily for us the day was perfect so we easily made our way up. The view was spectacular of the town encased by the surrounding mountain ranges. We then tried to head up to the Apex Lookout, but this definitely required a 4WD to get up there, so we left that for another time and decided to head back to Benalla.
It was great to cap off the day back at the in-law’s with the fire roaring and our homemade pizzas. Chef Fletch is the master roller for the bases and relishes the opportunity to get elbow deep in the pizza making process. With these cooking in the woodfire oven we were then joined by some close friends who dropped some happy news of them expecting another bub!
In all it made for a great road trip through the King Valley and the snow capped mountains surrounding Bright. One quote came to mind as we cruised along taking in all the scenery, so from Disney’s Pixar movie Cars, “Cars didn’t drive on it [the road] to make great time. They drove on it to have a great time.”
For more information about what to do in and around Bright head to the links below.
The best place to follow Josh’s adventures with his family is on his Instagram site @josh.duthie. You can see this post and more Adventures of Duth by clicking the link below.