The Great Alpine Road Drive : Leg 1

The Great Alpine Road has been described as one of the most scenic drives in the world. The 200 mile adventure along Australia's highest year-round accessible sealed road takes you close to Victoria's diverse landscapes. Drive through lofty mountain ranges, down plunging valleys, into lush forests, and past rolling vineyards along the way to the sparkling waterways on Gippsland's coast. Dine on fresh local produce and award winning cool climate wines, or catch your own lunch in a mountain stream or lake as you go.

Whatever the season, you can be sure of breath-taking views, outstanding scenery and warm welcomes along the way.

We’ll discuss the possibilities of this road trip in two legs so that you can make the most of it.

Leg one:- The Great Alpine Road

Wangaratta to Bright (76 km/47 miles, about 1 hour)

Start your trip in friendly Wangaratta, with its beautiful gardens, period homes and love of music. If you're a music lover, then time your visit for the annual November jazz festival, when the city really kicks up.

Time to Make Mouth-watering Memories

Without wasting time getting acquainted with the fine wine and local produce in the valleys of the northern side of the Great Alpine Road, consider the spectacular scenery with crisp mountain air.

At Milawa, stop over at the celebrated Brown Brothers Epicurean Centre and Cellar Door, and sample your way through Milawa Cheese Factory. The historic Rutherglen, famous for its muscats and fortifieds, has been revamped with new life as bold young winemakers pour new life into it.

Take a detour to Beechworth, a village built on the wealth of the gold rush of the 1800s, exploring the historic honey granite buildings. To get a taste of Beechworth's booming food and wine scene, try for a reservation at the much-admired Provenance. Otherwise, you can also munch on fabulous pizza and sip on beer at famous Bridge Road Brewers.

Adventuring in the Alpine

Travel onwards to Mount Buffalo National Park and get stunned by its unique rock formations. A gentle walk takes in waterfalls, granite formations and lookouts with great views of the Australian Alps. You can be more extreme by heading out on horseback or by hiring a bicycle. Rock climbers will be in their element at the summit of Mount Buffalo. This is also popular for cross-country or downhill skiing in winter.

Ending the Leg

This leg ends at Bright, a beautiful town on the Ovens River, filled with grand deciduous trees that are breathtaking in autumn. Mark the first stage of your drive with a memorable meal at Simone's, one of Victoria's most celebrated restaurants.

[Read Our Previous Blog on Driving The Great Ocean Road ]

Side trips along Great Alpine Road

Golden Heritage Drive

From Wangaratta to Tarrawingee, you'll take in Tarrawingee's historic buildings, including St Peter's church, the Plough Inn and Carinya House. Then turn to Beechworth and Wooragee to see the 30-plus beautifully preserved National Trust-classified buildings and places of significance to the legend of bushranger Ned Kelly. On your way towards Yackandandah and Myrtleford, walk the tree lined streets of Yackandandah with its stately Victorian architecture.

Gourmet Food and Wine Drive

From Wangaratta drive towards Milawa via Oxley, at the heart of the famed Milawa Gourmet Region. Here you can taste fine wines at cellar doors, including the renowned Mediterranean styles of the nearby King Valley. Sample outstanding local produce, experience the hospitality of award-winning country hotels and fine dining restaurants. Don’t forget to pull over at farm gates to stock up on seasonal bounty. From here you can loop back to Wangaratta or move on to Myrtleford and beyond.

Mount Buffalo Drive

From Myrtleford, drive 24 km along B500 towards Porepunkah. Break your journey with a tasty pub meal at the Ovens Hotel, serving tourists since 1854. Then move to C535 to Mount Buffalo for the top of Mount Buffalo Gorge to take in fantastic views of the High Country and the Alps. You can also follow numerous walking tracks for even more majestic panoramas. In winter, get the adrenaline pumping by hiring cross country or downhill skis. The summers are for indulging in adventure activities.

Jonathan Campbell

Aussie Trip Advisor, 12H Nob Hill, Roseland NJ 07068

Aussie Trip Advisor hand-craft Australian itineraries on a fee-for-service basis