The Great Alpine Way
The Great Alpine Road (also known as The Great Alpine Way) is a road stretching from Wangaratta in the North-East to the Gippsland Lakes at Metung. It’s Australia’s highest, all year round road sealed road (with chains required in the winter months). It’s a road to rival the Great Ocean Road with cliff-hugging bends, stunning scenery of deep valleys, lush green forests, magnificent views, rivers, and lakes.
I travelled the Great Alpine Way with my friend and fellow wanderer Lucy. Going from Bright to Metung and then to Lakes Entrance in late spring. While most wildflowers were gone and Bright was heading towards summer, it was still beautiful. We stayed overnight in Bright at the start of our drive in a lovely accommodation house on the banks of the Ovens River. The weather was a warm 35c when we arrived in Bright and having more enthusiasm than brains; we decided to take the Canyon Walk at our back door. The walk is very popular and not particularly challenging unless you attempt it in 35-degree heat.
“The Canyon walk takes you past a small canyon carved by the Ovens River and amazing water races carved by the hands of early miners. Enjoy the ever-changing river in all seasons and watch for bird life and wildflowers especially in spring. Interpretive signs explain the history of the gold mining along the river”
The following day, we woke to cloudy skies with rain predicted. However, we decided to head up the road through Harrietville and Mount Hotham. At 1861 metres, Mount Hotham is Victoria’s highest alpine village. I would have loved to take the Razorback Trail to Mount Feathertop. but we were in a 2wd car and not that brave 😉 If you are in a 4wd, it’s highly recommended. We continued to Dinner Plain and enjoyed a delicious late breakfast at the cafe before heading towards Omeo.
Arriving in Omeo, we stopped off at the Cuckoo Clock Shop. Then, on the recommendation of a local in Bright, we called in at the Bakery for Coffee and Cake (he must have been related because the coffee was lukewarm and the cake average). Finding almost nothing to do or photograph in Omeo, we ditched our original plans and continued to drive on to Lakes Entrance, with a stop in Bruthen at the Blue Bee Cafe for a decent coffee.
We arrived in Lakes Entrance mid-afternoon just as the rain started, booked in Bellvue Lakes Motel and dashed to our room in the rain. Unfortunately, the rain kept up most of the night. The Bellvue is a very nice motel and lovely staff, but I wished I had remembered to bring my pillow. Pillows on the bed are nothing short of dreadful. The Rudder and Fin are attached to the motel but run separately. The food was delicious and reasonably priced.
The following day after a losing battle and broken night sleep with crappy pillows, we went in search of breakfast. As the sun was trying the break through the clouds, we thought the day would improve. With this in mind, we booked an afternoon eco-cruise on the lakes and then jumped in the car to explore the area. We headed up the road to Lake Tyers Beach as our first stop. Lake Tyres is closed to the sea, with the sandbar blocking the entrance. It’s only occasionally open to the sea, the last time being 2007 for six months before it closed again.
We drove to the Nowa Nowa Wetlands from Lake Tyers, not many birds there, but I was lucky enough to catch one pelican cruising for a takeoff. From Nowa Nowa, we headed back to Lakes Entrance and stopped off at the Stony Creek Railway Trestle Bridge. The bridge was built in the early 1900s and is 276 long and 19m high. The bridge is fenced off and in poor condition though you can get to the trail by heading down the steep slopes of the Stony Creek Valley. (We didn’t)
Back in Lakes Entrance, we boarded the Lonsdale for our 3-hour cruise around the lakes. The skipper (Tony) was very knowledgeable about the lakes, and the scones provided by the ‘skippers’ were fantastic. I should have taken a photo! Big fluffy scones topped with lashings of strawberry cream with a strawberry on top. Delicious! The sun had made an appearance, but the wind off the lakes was bitterly cold. We started out sitting up top, came to our senses pretty quickly, and moved to the downstairs area out of the wind. We didn’t see any dolphins, but we did spot a couple of seals sunbaking at the entrance and quite a few birds.
Our last day was the leg home—Lakes Entrance to Melbourne via the long, boring Princes Hwy. As is ALWAYS the way, the day we were leaving was the nicest weather-wise. I think we could hire ourselves out as drought breakers!