Pick up a copy of Victoria's High Country Cycle Guide, free from visitor information centres. Other popular activities include hiking, climbing and abseiling in the Mt Buffalo National Park and kayaking on the Ovens River around Bright.
The Victorian High Country has three great ‘highways’ that will take you up and over the mountains and down to the Gippsland coast. All three link up with Omeo and become the Great Alpine Rd down to Bairnsdale and are a joy for car or motorcycle touring, or for hard-core cyclists!
Bogong High Plains Road
In 2009 the Bogong High Plains Rd was finally sealed all the way from Falls Creek to the Omeo Hwy, creating a fabulous all-season tourist route. The journey starts at Mt Beauty and climbs up through Bogong village, where the Bogong Power Station is worth a visit, to Falls Creek ski resort. From there it skirts Rocky Valley Lake and winds 35km to join the Omeo Hwy about 11km north of Anglers Rest. Note this section of the road is usually only open from November to April. The result is a superb alpine loop where you can drive from Bright, over Mt Hotham via Omeo to Falls Creek, down to Mt Beauty and back to Bright – a distance of about 250km.
Great Alpine Road
This much-loved 308km route starts at Wangaratta and follows the Ovens Valley through Myrtleford, Bright and Harrietville before passing over Mt Hotham and Dinner Plain then descending to Omeo and all the way down to Bairnsdale in East Gippsland. It’s Australia’s highest year-round-accessible sealed road. The section from Omeo southeast to Bruthen is particularly scenic, following the valley of the Tambo River and passing farmland, vineyards and the pretty communities of Swift’s Creek and Ensay.
Stretching about 155km from the Murray River near Tallangatta to Omeo, the Omeo Hwy (C543) is one of Victoria’s most scenic alpine routes. The highway is now sealed along its entire distance, but snow can make it difficult to pass in winter. Check in Tallangatta or Omeo before setting out.
The first section of the road from Tallangatta follows the flatlands of the Mitta Mitta River between wooded mountains. Mitta Mitta is an old gold-mining settlement, and a track leads from the highway to the former Pioneer Mine site, one of the largest hydraulic sluicing operations in Victoria, yielding some 15,000oz (425.25kg) of gold over 16 years.
Anglers Rest, beside the Cobungra River, is popular with anglers, motorcyclists, kayakers and bushwalkers.
Finally, 30km south of Anglers Rest, you reach Omeo and join up with the Great Alpine Rd.
Murray to Mountains Rail Trail
The Murray to Mountains Rail Trail is Victoria’s second-longest bike path and one of the High Country’s best walking/cycling trails for families or casual riders. It’s sealed and relatively flat much of the way, and passes through spectacular rural scenery of farms, forest and vineyards, with views of the alpine ranges.
The 94km trail runs from Wangaratta to Bright via Myrtleford and Porepunkah. A section of the trail then heads northwest from Wangaratta to Wahgunyah via Rutherglen, completing the true Murray to Mountains experience.
Aficionados say the 16km between Everton and Beechworth, which detours off the main trail, is the best part of the ride (despite a challenging uphill section), as you’re cycling through bush. Bikes can be hired in Wangaratta, Beechworth and Bright, as well as towns in between.
Sled Dog Tours
For a real Arctic-style adventure, try a dog-sledding tour, where you’re pulled along on a traditional sled behind a team of huskies. The opportunity to dog-sled is usually from June to September, but availability is always dependent on snow levels. Contact Australian Sleddog Tours at Mt Buller or Howling Husky Sled Dog Tours in Mt Hotham and Dinner Plain or Mt Baw Baw.