When you think of High Country Victoria, you probably think of the snow season and the ski slopes. But if you’re looking to spend time in the great outdoors, Mount Beauty is the perfect getaway at any time of the year. There is so much to do around Mount Beauty that no matter when you visit, you won’t be disappointed.
Mount Beauty wasn’t called this way without reason. Nestled at the foot of Mt Bogong, Victoria’s highest mountain (1986m), it truly is a beauty. It is our favourite place in the High Country so far and it’s only four hours drive from Melbourne. Mount Beauty is the gateway to Falls Creek, Victoria’s largest ski resort, but if you visit in the warmer months, there are cycling tracks, walking tracks and rock pools for you to enjoy.
Now, if you are planning a trip to Mount Beauty, here are some of the best things to do in and around it.
Walk around the pondage
The 3 km walk around the pondage is a great way to experience the town’s spectacular alpine scenery. The reflections of the mountains and clouds over the pondage are just beautiful. It is a very easy walk that can be enjoyed by most people, or you can ride it if you prefer.
Hike the Mt Beauty Gorge Walk
This walk takes you along the aqueduct track to a swing bridge and over the West Kiewa River. As you follow the river, you will reach the canyon with some great views of the gorge. There is a swimming hole to be enjoyed at the end!
Note: During our walk, we came across a Red Belly Black snake and another group saw a brown snake on the same day. So it’s a good idea to look out for snakes along the way and to be careful where you step. Remember, they are more scared of us than we are of them but still, try not to tread on one!
Have a picnic by the lake
Enjoy a picnic with those views! You will want to hang around for a while, especially on a nice, sunny day. It’s such a lovely spot.
Drive the Tawonga Gap Road to Bright
The drive from Mt Beauty to Bright (or vice versa) takes you up and down a long, winding road with a couple of lookouts along the way. Make sure to stop at Mt Bogong Lookout and the Sullivans Lookout for some spectacular views of the Kiewa Valley and the imposing Mt Bogong.
Spend a day in Bright
The alpine town of Bright is surrounded by magical views of Mount Hotham and is split in two by the Owens River. It is a very peaceful town, even when packed with summer crowds. Because of its proximity to Mount Beauty, you could also base yourself here and take day trips to Mount Beauty. Both towns are worth exploring.
If you visit in Autumn, you’re in for a treat due to the many deciduous trees whose leaves change colour around then. Many say that Autumn is the ultimate time to visit this part of Victoria.
Here are some of the best things to do in Bright:
Walk the Canyon Trail
The Canyon Trail is a historic track that follows the Owens River downstream, crossing swing bridges and following a small canyon carved out by the river and some water races dug by early miners. Information placards along the Canyon Trail give you a good insight into the town’s gold mining past. The track is an easy 3 km return and will take you less than an hour to complete.
Have a beer at the Bright Brewery
The Bright Brewery has become a local institution and is always packed, especially in summer. Normally, you can spend your afternoon lounging around on one of the many bean-bags laid out on the lawn outside, enjoying the sound of the river as you down award-winning craft beer. However, when we visited recently, this was not available due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Swim in the Owens River
During the warmer months, the Owens River is a fabulous place for a refreshing swim. Next to the brewery, you’ll find a small water amusement park, springboards, slides, and water slides leading down into the river. It’s fabulous for both kids and adults who need to cool down! The banks of the river are also a great spot for picnics.
Breakfast or lunch at one of the many cafes in town
There is no shortage of cafes in Bright serving fabulous food made from fresh, local produce. Black Bird Cafe, Food Wine Friends, the Riverdeck Kitchen, Wild Thyme Cafe and Coral Lee are highly recommended.
Visit the small alpine villages of Bogong Village and Harrietville
Bogong Village is 15 kilometres away from Mount Beauty and was originally built for workers on the Kiewa Hydro Electric Scheme. These days, it’s a peaceful place to kick back and relax with awe-inspiring views. You can take a walk around Lake Guy, go kayaking, swim, fish or simply sit by the lake with a picnic.
Harrietville is 20 minutes South of Bright and right at the foot of Mount Hotham and Mount Feathertop. A gold mining settlement during the Victorian Gold Rush, this picturesque town is now an ideal all-seasons holiday destination. Autumn will bring you Harrietville at its best.
In Harrietville, you can walk along the river to the old Chinese settlement, visit the museum (closed during Covid) or visit the local trout farm.
Take the drive up to Falls Creek
Although Falls Creek is at its busiest during the ski season, the alpine scenery at the top is worth the detour even in summer. Some even cycle up there, but there was no way I was doing that! Falls Creek is set amongst the pristine environment of the Alpine National Park and has many more hiking trails that take you out into the wilderness of the high country. Just make sure to bring some layers, as it does get much colder at this altitude.
Where to stay in Mt Beauty?
We stayed at The Pod, an Airbnb in Tawonga South which is just down the road and walking distance to Mt Beauty. The Pod is compact but it had everything we needed, including a bath! It’s made entirely from recycled wood which gives it so much character. The deck at the front was the perfect place for that morning coffee or evening wine. We especially loved having the cheeky local birds visit and join in on our conversations!
Other accommodation around Mount Beauty
We think the pod is great for two people but if it’s not your thing or there’s more of you then there are plenty of other accommodation options in the area. We recommend using HotelsCombined to find a great deal. It lets you search across all the major accommodation websites.