This post is shared in collaboration with One Road at a Time
Winding its way from Wangaratta to Bairnsdale, the Great Alpine Road gives visitors a lofty view of Victoria’s mountains. The 308 kilometre drive passes through snow-capped mountain peaks, deep valleys, lush rainforests, and pastoral vineyards, allowing you to stop at will to admire the view or enjoy a picnic. The Great Alpine Road is notable for being Australia’s highest sealed road, and is accessible throughout the year.
Preparing for the Drive
Before you embark on your drive, you’ll need the right vehicle. Due to its well-tended nature, it can be a suitable road for all types of vehicles, but is particularly enjoyable in a convertible car or motorcycle due to its tight turns and spectacular views. If you’re thinking about going the motorcycle route, you may want to read Kawasaki motorbikes reviews at Bikesales first to find a suitable vehicle, as it’s a local website in Australia. Another option is to choose a car with 4WD, which allows you to go on off-road detours. The Great Alpine Road can be broken down into three main sections, each with their own scenery and attractions.
Wangaratta to Bright
Spanning a distance of 76km, this first leg of the journey takes about an hour without any stops. This passes through lush, fertile valleys which are renowned for their wine production. The town of Rutherglen is becoming particularly well-known for its Muscat and fortified wine production, so you’ll want to pass through and pick up a bottle to sample later. The historic gold rush town of Beechworth is also location in this area, notable for its 1800’s architecture, food and wine scene and local produce. Stop off at Mount Buffalo to enjoy the sight of its rugged rock formations and waterfalls, or try your hand at rock climbing if you have time to spare.
Bright to Omeo
From the town of Bright, the Great Alpine Road starts climbing higher and higher, with the surrounding landscape changing from alpine ash trees to heathland. You’ll start heading up to the mountain resort of Mount Hotham, which offers a variety of downhill or cross-country tracks to try out whether you’re a beginner or champion skier. At the summit, you’ll be rewarded with views over the valleys below. This leg of the journey will take you all the way to Omeo, and takes approximately 2 hours to cover the 110 kilometre distance.
Omeo to Bairnsdale
Take a break in Omeo, a resting stop for local cattle and sheep, before you finish up your journey along the Great Alpine Road. The final leg of the tour is 122 km, and takes approximately 1.5 hours. You’ll pass through picturesque mountain scenery and end up in Bairnsdale, which is the region’s only proper city. Bairnsdale is now considered an important gateway to the eastern region of Victoria, and leads to the placid Gippsland Lakes. The town is situated along the Mitchell River, providing easy access to boating, horseback riding, and other outdoor activities.
It’s possible to tour the Great Alpine Way in only a day, stopping after each leg of the journey. However, with the abundance of recreational opportunities and pleasant sights along the way, many motorists choose to stretch it out into a weekend or even week-long journey. Whether you prefer skiing, wine-tasting, or simply photographing beautiful views, you won’t be disappointed along this challenging road.