Ten Epic Outdoor Adventures You Can Have in Victoria's High Country
With picnics on cliffs, steamy onsens and 100-kilometre bike tracks, the region is jam-packed with activities.
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There's much to be said about heading off the well-trodden path, but what about the trails that are popular for a reason? Victoria's High Country offers some of the best outdoor adventures in the state. Sure, they may not be new or undiscovered, but with snow gum forests, historic huts, snow-covered mountains and winding cycling paths, there's so much to see and do in the region that boredom isn't an option.
Planning a trip? We've teamed up with Victoria's High Country to come up with ten epic activities you should have on your bucket list. Whether you're after heart-racing whitewater kayaking, breathtaking hot air balloon rides or stimulating walks that celebrate First Nations cultures, we've got you covered.
CYCLE ALONG THE MURRAY TO MOUNTAINS RAIL TRAIL
Is it even a trip to the High Country if you don't go for a cycle? Okay, maybe we wouldn't go that far, but suffice to say that missing out on a two-wheeled adventure while in the mountainous region would be a real shame. From relaxed pedals between country towns to thrilling downhill tracks in remote backcountry, there really is something for everyone. For those who want to keep the level of difficulty relatively low while still experiencing the best the area has to offer, the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail has a bit of everything. The track is more than 100 kilometres, but it's easy to cruise along a smaller stretch of it, passing lush landscapes, rolling vineyards and plenty of places to stop in for a bite.
TRY YOUR HAND AT FLY FISHING
If you've never tried fly fishing before then you're in for a treat. It goes a little something like this: you wade into water until you're about waist deep, then cast a line and hope for the best. Just kidding, it's a little more complicated than that — and certainly more fun. Riverdowns Retreat, located by the historic Howqua River, is in the centre of one of Australia's renowned freshwater fisheries. So, it offers the perfect opportunity for you to experience fly fishing in a stunning environment. For newbies, there are two-hour lessons for $150 (plus $75 per additional person), which includes an introductory casting class on the grass and, of course, some time in the water. It also has half- and full-day guides available for those looking to idle longer.
UNWIND IN A JAPANESE-STYLE ONSEN
Not all adventures have to make your heart pound. Sometimes, all you want during a trip away is a chance to kick back and relax. Enter: the Onsen Retreat and Spa at Dinner Plain. The alpine retreat is where you can truly indulge. Pick from a number of therapeutic spa treatments to help melt your stress away, including organic facials, herbal body exfoliations and volcanic hot stone massages. But the pièce de résistance is the Japanese-style, 38-degree outdoor onsen. Set amid the mountains, the steamy hot spring is the ideal spot to soak up your surroundings.
TREAT YOURSELF TO A NEXT-LEVEL PICNIC ON A CLIFF
There's something to be said about spending a sunny day lazing in the park with a picnic full of fresh produce, cheese and a few glasses of bubbly. But what if you could take such a staple pastime to great new heights, literally? We're talking about a casual snack while perched on a cliff face. Yes, you read that correctly. Set 300 metres above the valley floor, Bright's suspended picnics will see you hanging out on the side of Mount Buffalo as you tuck in to a gourmet hamper. The unique three-hour experience comes in at a cool $449 per couple — but, really you can't put a price on those views.
CHECK OUT THE IMPRESSIVE STEAVENSON FALLS
There are many forests and national parks to explore throughout Victoria's High Country. While you could conquer great peaks or abseil down sheer cliffs (if that's your type of thing), seeking out some natural beauties is another way to get your outdoorsy kicks. So, why not venture to some of the area's awe-inspiring waterfalls? If we had to pick only one to visit, it's Steavenson Falls. With a drop of 84 metres, this attraction's impressive height is a sight to see, especially from the viewing platform located right at the base of the falls. And, if you're interested in a challenging five-hour hike while you're there, you can tackle the Keppel Lookout Trail.
SOAR ABOVE THE CLOUDS IN A HOT AIR BALLOON
It doesn't get much dreamier than floating leisurely through clouds as the sun rises.Especially if you're doing it while overlooking the Great Dividing Range. Making fantasy a reality, Goldrush Ballooning's King Valley sunrise flights (from $385) take off at the famed Brown Brothers Winery and take you high above the Ovens River, Mount Buffalo and all the rugged countryside you could ask for. When you land back at the vineyard, you'll enjoy breakfast and glasses of prosecco, too. Or, you can opt to depart from Mansfield Coffee Merchant for stunning views of Lake Eildon, Mount Timbertop and Mount Buller for $340.
GO KAYAKING ALONG THE OVENS RIVER
Whitewater kayaking is incredibly fun, even if you've never paddled before. Of course, you'll want a professional guide to help keep your head above water. Bright Adventure Company is known for its first-timer-friendly kayaking tours along the mighty Ovens River. Its whitewater tours run for two to three hours, cost $139 per person and are sure bring out your inner daredevil. Or, if you prefer something more low-key, you can hire a kayak or paddleboard ($25 per hour) and enjoy a calmer cruise down the river.
EXPLORE MOUNTAIN RIDGES ON HORSEBACK
Thanks to its rugged mountain peaks, wide plains and rushing rivers, the region has big 'The Man from Snowy River' vibes. Sure, it may not be The Snowies, but if you wanted to ride horseback through these parts and impersonate Banjo Paterson's famed cattleman, you can. Spring Spur has a connection to the High Country that dates back to the gold rushes of the 1850s, the property's exceptional horseback expeditions will take you on a journey through Alpine National Park. On its multi-day pack tours (from $1870), you'll traverse brumby country, come across wild rivers, sprawling landscapes and heritage huts, and have the chance to stay in secluded camps under the stars.
WANDER ALONG THE BULLAWAH CULTURAL TRAIL
The Bullawah Cultural Trail celebrates the traditional owners of the land in Wangaratta, the Pangerang people. As bulla means 'two' and wah means 'water', the trail's name signifies two things: the two suspension bridges crossing where the waters meet over the river as well as the coming together of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Set along 2.4 kilometres of the Ovens River, the track has sculptures, interpretive signage, the Marmungun Rock and the Bush Tucker Garden, all of which will help you understand more about the Pangerang people, their culture and their land.
RACE DOWN THE SLOPES
If you're a powder chaser in Victoria then you're heading to at least one of the Mount Buller, Falls Creek, Mount Hotham resorts over winter for a bit of fun on the mountain. Sure, it's one of the most popular activities to do in the High Country — and for good reason. Between the three locations, skiers and snowboarders can access 250 downhill runs across 50 lifts and ten terrain parks. It doesn't matter if you're a total beginner just learning how to stand up or a seasoned shredder blitzing your way through backcountry trails, there's a run suitable for every snow lover. And, at the end of the day, feast at one of the many cosy lodges and restaurants nearby.
Discover more and plan your next adventure at Victoria's High Country.
Top image: Spring Spur
Published on April 07, 2021 by Eleanor Scott