A family-friendly bike trail from Bright to Harrietville has opened extending the Murray to Mountains rail trail and we were keen to test it out with our family – dog included- to see just how friendly it was.
Amanda, Shan, Girls & Ziggy hit the trails for adventure
Where: Bright is 320km North-East of Melbourne in Victoria, a popular Alpine Region, and gateway to
Distance: 55km return (27km one-way)
Start & Finish: Bright
Trail: Flat, fully sealed asphalt suitable for mountain and road bikes
Fitness: Good fitness is required for the duration
Elevation: max 250m
Time: 6-7 hours with breaks
Equipment: Hired Electronic Bike although you can hike it too
The June morning was an exceptionally crisp 3c at 9 am as we set off to collect our bikes from
Bright ElectricBikes. With Miss 12 & Miss 13 with us for the holidays, we had opted for the e-bikes for us girls and Shan on a mountain bike with a dog carrier in tow for when Ziggy conceded defeat and took up the offer of resting his legs. Rugged up in many layers, beanies, and gloves, we set off on our adventure.
Departing from the front of the bike shop we continued along the Delany Ave shared pathway before crossing the road and continuing alongside the Great Alpine Rd for a few kilometres. The trail then crossed the bridge at Germantown and ran along the other side of the Oven’s River under the canopy of the eucalypts and away from the hustle and bustle of busy Bright in the peak winter season.
Shan & girls ride on the new asphalt trail along the Ovens River near Bright.
The newly established section, approx. 15kms from Germantown to just after Smoko offered an escape from the busy Alpine Road and into a Nature wonderland. Winding through farmland and heavily tree-lined paths, the sound of the swollen, rushing river was amplified by the steep hills on the opposite side.
Mindful that Ziggy our 2 y/o Kelpie X Lab needed intermittent rests, we pulled up in the sunshine that filtered through the trees by the banks of the river where he was able to quench his thirst and rest his legs. Whilst standing on the banks, Shan noticed on the other side of the river was a large Sambar deer who looked back at us before disappearing into the thicket.
Shan spots a Sambar Deer in the thicket and points out to the girls
Pulled over for a rest break alongside the Ovens River
Whilst we shared the trail with very few other riders or runners this day, the animal encounters were aplenty. Wallabies grazed in clearings between the trees, moving from our view as we rode past. Kookaburras seemingly laughed at us from the tops of the trees. Flocks of synchronized fairy-wrens darted in between undergrowth almost as if riding a wave and paddocks of horses, cows, goats, alpacas, and sheep all had our attention and awe.
Arriving at midday, we pulled up at the Harrietville Hotel hungry and welcoming our rest. The hotel was accommodating of dogs, even inside, however with the warm sun on our faces, we opted to stay outdoors. Ziggy enjoyed his own bowl of spaghetti for his efforts and we each devoured our meals before saddling up to head back into Bright.
Having decided that we girls would ride ahead to ensure the bikes were returned in time and Shan not having the electric power, we took off and soon set a comfortable 23km/hr pace. The wind was cool on our faces, and the river full of movement and energy, felt alive as we rode alongside it. Mindful that Shan had the sole task of managing the dog, I soon learned via text message that Ziggy had submitted to the baby carrier and Shan was making a cracking pace.
The majestic snow-capped mountains beyond the farmland create an epic backdrop for our ride
A few kilometres from Bright with Miss 12’s legs tiring we slowed our pace and rolled into town with little effort. The boys caught up to us at this stage (Shans a machine on a mountain bike) and together we rode the final leg home. I fell to the back so Ziggy who now laying comfortably in the carrier was reassured that he was with me once again. Arriving back at the shop, the girls were abuzz with achievement and we walked off to celebrate another epic adventure.
Overall the gentle hills encountered along the way were easily met with the e-bike, however, the trail would easily be completed without if good fitness level presented. A great trail for the family, our 4-legged fur babies too. The path makes it easy for the younger rider or parents who are towing smaller children/ dogs in the carrier with minimal road crossings.
Close Deer sighting along a quiet section of Ovens River
Riding alongside the Ovens River; listening to the magnitude of the water rushing through
Riding the winding paths through snow gums
Snow-capped mountains beyond farmland vista
A plethora of birdlife created the perfect soundtrack
The trail hugs the Ovens River so there is plenty of opportunities to stop along the way for a rest. Great if you have a dog along for the ride as they can cool off their paws and get a drink
Slow down – through the back of Smoko If you slow down through the eucalypt-lined trail, there is an opportunity to spot Sambar deer on the opposite bank of the Ovens River.
The team at Bright Electronic Bikes was fantastic to deal with from booking to return, ensuring that we all clearly understood how to use the bikes and the various functions before setting off and provided a detailed map for our itinerary.
If heading off in the cooler weather, ensure you wear layers and particularly gloves. Much of the trail is under tree canopy and shade of the trees in the Winter months so rug up.
Sections of the trail have winding, tight corners, so be mindful of traffic on the trail and slow down at the bends. Make sure you stick to your left-hand side when approaching others.
Ensure you carry enough water or a filtration device if intending on drinking from the river as you don’t pass shops.
Harrietville has 2 main pubs that both offer traditional pub meals or there is a bakery, food trucks, and general store to purchase foods and drinks.
If you have padded bike pants- take them. The seats although padded still leave their presence felt a few days later after such a distance.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
Holistic Hikes acknowledge the Dhudhuroa, Taungurung, Waywurru, Gunaikurnai and Jaithmathang as the First Peoples and Traditional Custodians of the Alpine Shire, which encompasses the land, water and sky of Bright & Surrounds. We recognise the ancient and continuing presence of the First Peoples on these lands and their important role as caretakers of these Countries. We pay our respect to their Elders, past, present and emerging.