Is there any Aussie cycling destination that comes close to a place like the European Alps? Yes, there is and if you haven’t been there, you’re missing out. The town of Bright is a hugely popular, year-round holiday destination. Families and friends flock to Bright to experience the beautiful alpine region from summer through to winter but if you’re a cyclist, it’s one of the very few places that is comparable to cycling in Europe by way of the terrain and the facilities on offer to cater for the cycling community.
Cycling in and around Bright is a great option for many reasons, the first of them being that it's family friendly. You can spend time in this little town and be sure that while you are enjoying a day out on the bike, that the rest of your family have plenty to do including walking, swimming, kayaking, fishing and a lot more. Kids can spend all day playing in one of the playgrounds or having fun jumping into the river right in the town centre. And to that point, everything is centrally located so you don’t have to move far from your accommodation to get to the river, shops, restaurants and cafes.
The town itself is one of the most bike-friendly places we’ve seen in Australia and compares with its European counterparts on this level. There are plenty of bike shops in the area and most importantly, bike-friendly accommodation. Not only will you find the basics like a place to store and clean your bike but there are options here that include workshop areas with bike maintenance tools, custom-built bike washing stations, transfers to riding locations high up in the surrounding mountain areas and access to bike mechanics and massage therapists. Having these great services and facilities makes bike travel completely hassle-free and there’s not shortage of friendly locals to provide you with local cycling tips. These “bike hotels” or “sport hotels” are very common in Europe, but not so much in Australia so having so many in one place like Bright, is actually quite unique.
But let’s talk about the cycling itself and why Bright and the surrounding region can offer a cycling experience to rival those in Europe that people travel a long way for.
Aside from the bike-friendly accommodation and abundance of bike shops and transport options, the cafes and restaurants warmly welcome the cycling community. It’s not uncommon to see rows of bikes parked along the main street while hungry cyclists enjoy breakfast or lunch, coffee and ice cream! The outdoor seating area at popular Bright Brewery is dotted with bikes and is a common meeting place for local bunches. The local visitor centre has useful maps of the local cycling routes and trails and there are plenty of guided tours if that’s what you’re looking for. But the buzzing of the town itself disappears within minutes of leaving the town and turns into a sense of tranquility as you weave between the mountains or take on the challenge of reaching their peaks.
So, it goes without saying that the road cycling in this area is quite incredible, especially if you’re a climber. There are endless climbs including Mt. Buffalo, Mt. Hotham and Falls Creek and taking on just one of these will give you a good idea of what it’s like to ride on the most famous European Alps. Bright is also home to some of the most challenging cycling events including the Alpine Classic and the Peaks Challenge which is a 235km ride with more than 4,000m of climbing. But if you want to step it back a gear, the Murray to Mountains rail trail is a great option. It’s a safe and easy way to explore the high country and take a more relaxing pedal through the beautiful landscapes. It’s also a great option for families and beginners.
Bright is also a popular destination for mountain biking, with forests and mountains lined with all types of challenging trails. The Mystic Mountain Bike Park network is a great starting point. It is a scenic area with opportunities for experienced riders as well as beginners and families. The trails are a unique mix of hand-built and natural terrain, and you'll find everything from flat fire road to incredibly steep technical descents here, so there's something that will challenge even the most experienced riders. Their services make it easy to access and you’ll find everything you need to make it a hassle-free day of pure shredding.
Aside from the different cycling experiences and the abundance of activities for families that make Bright a popular holiday destination, we have to mention the food and wine. If food is your thing you’ll find plenty of options in the town itself and surrounding area. Many of the restaurants feature local produce and wines on their menus and there are food markets and festivals throughout the year so you can taste away as you shop! The one place you can’t go past if the Bright Brewery – try their authentic, hand-crafted beers and the delicious food. And if you want to combine cycling with food and wine, check out Tour de Vines for guided and self-guided tour options.
But once you’re done indulging in the local food and drinks, get back on the saddle because this little gem of a town has something special for any cyclist that really can't be missed.