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GoSee finds affordable seven day Victorian High Country caravan park holiday

December 17, 2008
GoSee finds affordable seven day Victorian High Country caravan park holiday

By Agnes and Nick Hellwig

In this tough economic climate caravan parks really come into their own as an affordable holiday option for the whole family whether you choose to camp in a tent or caravan or stay in cabin accommodation.

Many people these days choose to free camp but we prefer to stay in caravan parks for the security and added facilities available.

If you do not have a tent, camper trailer or caravan but would like to try the lifestyle you can now hire any of these, just go to the GoSee Products and Services and Rentals section of this GoSee website.

This year my husband Nick and I chose to visit Porepunkah near Bright in the Victorian High Country, about 340km from our home in Melbourne travelling along the Hume Freeway. Our car is a 1995 Ford Fairmont station wagon which tows a 6x4 trailer with a home-made canopy containing our tent and camping gear.

We left home in the Melbourne suburb of Chadstone at 6am to beat the heat and traffic, and once on the freeway travelled at 90km.

At Benalla we decided to take a coffee break and stretch ourlegs so we browsed in two of the Bric-a-Brac and Antique shops in the town. (Thats my excuse anyway!) Benalla is a vibrant town with many shops and parks, and worth exploring for a longer period.

Turning off at the Milawa exit, we stopped once more at the Milawa township.

This charming little town is the home of Milawa Mustards which is the Regions Condiment Centre, Milawa Cheese Factory and Caf, and the famous Brown Brothers Winery.

A great place to relax and enjoy the local food and wine is the Milawa Caravan Tourist Park which offers shady drive-through sites, ensuite cabins and a bunkhouse, all at reasonable rates. The park is dog friendly too!

Moving on we found Myrtleford has grown into a bustling town with two large supermarkets and a new Target store and many restaurants and shops. Over the 26km to Bright there were numerous roadside stops selling cherries at really cheap prices, so we just had to stock up.

Our tent and trailer at Porepunkah Pines
Our tent and trailer at Porepunkah Pines

We arrived at our destination,Porepunkah Pines Tourist Resort at around lunchtime, and were shown to our en suite site ($204 for 7 days) right near the river.

Porepunkah Pines is the closest caravan park to the Bright township, just 4km and about a three minute drive. We chose it when I heard they were installing ensuite sites with spa baths along the river, but sadly these were not yet available.

Powered sites at this park are just $26 per night off-peak, and cabins start from the Budget Ensuite Cabin at $67 for 2 per night off-peak to a Superior 2 bedroom cabin with Spa at $110 for 2 per night off-peak.

Nick and I prefer to holiday outside of peak periods to avoid the crowds, and also because we often take our dogs with us (not this time, due to the heat) Of course accommodation costs are also much lower.

Porepunkah Pines is a spacious, well laid out park, with an excellent covered camp kitchen that has huge red gum tables and benches and free gas barbecues.

The pool area has a childrens water park with mushroom sprinklers and shade umbrellas and the large adult pool has a 380 degree waterslide. There is seating around the pool, and a separate playground nearby.

The kids and adults were all having a wonderful time during our week there.

Graham and Ann Harvey from Bendigo with their dog Jamieson with their Jayco Dove
Graham and Ann Harvey from Bendigo with their dog Jamieson with their Jayco Dove

Our campsite was right near the river, with a lovely walking track into Porepunkah Village, and even a swing bridge.

Owner Lynette de Bijl showed me the area near the river where the new Executive En-suite Sites with Spa bath are to be built soon.

The views of the surrounding hills are to die for! Dogs are allowed on sites, and there were quite a few staying during our visit.

We enjoy camping in our Southern Cross cabin tent, which is very comfortable because Nick likes to bring all the comforts of home with us in the trailer.

We had lots of comments from other campers because while the trailer is home-made and not much to look at, it is functional and well equipped with shelving which doubles as a table and cooking bench and holds all manner of things to make our stay a home away from home.

We certainly do not rough it! (Ready made Gourmet Getaway trailers with fully equipped kitchen easily fitted to traytops trailers are available from Heaslip Campers, see GoSee Home Page and click the Products Services/Camper Trailers) options.

Cool it in a  mountain stream. Courtesy Alpine Region Tourism
Cool it in a mountain stream. Courtesy Alpine Region Tourism

Bright is a spectacular destination all year round. Every season has its own unique beauty.

This picturesque town sits on both sides of the Ovens River with most, if not all, of the six caravan parks in Bright, together with the five Porepunkah parks situated to take advantage of the river setting.

Pine forested mountains all around provide breathtaking views and clear fresh air.

SHOPPING IN BRIGHT:

There are many gift shops, galleries and specialty shops. There is a camping store and the Star of the Elms variety shop for anything you forgot to bring with you. There is also a chemist, a newsagent, butchers and two supermarkets. The Old Tobacco Shed between Porepunkah and Bright is a must visit.

EATING OUT IN AND AROUND BRIGHT:

There are two pubs in Bright, both of which offer pokies and excellent Bistro meals with seniors and kids menus available.

There are numerous excellent restaurants which offer a variety of cuisines, together with cafes and take-away venues to please every palate and budget.

Nick and I had a terrific meal at the Porepunkah Hotel Motel and Bistro which can be reached via the walking track from our campsite.

Average cost of main dishes was around $18 and there was a 10 percent discount for people staying at the caravan park. With huge serves and self-serve vegetables and salads this pub is excellent value!

Beautiful Bright strikes up the band courtesy Alpine Region Tourism
Beautiful Bright strikes up the band courtesy Alpine Region Tourism

The little town of Wandiligong is about 5km on the other side of Bright, and is worth a visit for the spectacular views alone, but is also home of the historic Wandi Pub which offers live entertainment on Sunday nights.

The Wandiligong Maze and Caf lets you wander through 2km of living hedge maze pathways, has a rose garden, a rustic rotunda, mini golf and a licensed caf.

(The Wandiligong Holiday Village nearby is a rustic park with sites, cabins and bunkroom offering sensational views, and is popular with birdwatchers, bushwalkers as well as school groups etc.)

The Red Stag Deer and Emu Farm in nearby Eurobin is an absolute Must Visit! The 360 degree views are spectacular, and the new terrace in the Red Stag restaurant is a great place to take it all in.

We enjoyed a delicious Devonshire Tea with the largest scone I have ever seen, ($7 per head).

Lunches are available and use fresh locally sourced products of venison, emu, ostrich and goat in the menu. In summer delicious garden salads and local wines can be enjoyed in the Vintners Garden.

There is a gift shop in the restaurant which sells leather goods, gifts and souvenirs, together with the Deer and Emu Farm products.

We enjoyed petting a friendly stag behind the fence with curious ostriches watching and there were little goat kids running free together with chickens with baby chicks. This is an absolutely delightful place!

Soft greens on the striking drive through Bright. Courtesy Alpine Region Tourism
Soft greens on the striking drive through Bright. Courtesy Alpine Region Tourism

The Vienna Patisserie in Allans Flat provides a range of the finest Austrian tortes, cakes and strudels while visitors relax in an authentic log cabin.

We visited Allans Flat on a previous trip to the area and its attactions drew us back .

THINGS TO SEE AND DO:

The Old Tobacco Sheds located on the Great Alpine Road between Porepunkah and Bright. This fantastic place includes the equivalent of 28 shops, displaying a huge mix of Old with New.

There are antiques, collectables, books, records, china, retro wares, gallery, motor memorabilia jewellery and gnomes.

As you browse through this amazing array you listen to a lovely mix of music from days gone by, which is available for purchase on CD. This was a great place to complete our Christmas shopping!

Eagle School of Microlighting Bright. Offers tandem flights in a microlight aircraft. Equally suitable for young, old and disabled, and featured on many TV lifestyle programs.

Mount Buffalo Chalet and the Mount Buffalo Lookout breathtaking views. The Chalet was not open when we visited.

Gertrude and Wallace at Old Tobacco Shed
Gertrude and Wallace at Old Tobacco Shed

Gapstead Wines Great Alpine Road Gapstead. Cellar door and wine tasting, delicious lunches, regular family friendly events such as Movies by Moonlight, Live Music and Shakespeare in the Vines.

Yackandandah Township Browse the historic buildings and quaint shops in the main street, have a cold beer or a meal in one of the local hotels. Be warned most shops etc are closed on Mondays as we found out!

In Beechworth take a drive to enjoy the many historic shops and galleries and enjoy a superb coffee and cake at the Beechworth Bakery. Take scenic drives to: Mount Beauty and Tawonga. Go bushwalking.

HOLIDAY COSTS:

Accommodation:

Our En-suite powered site At Porepunkah Pines Tourist Resort cost $34 per night with the 7th night free, a total of $204.

We upgraded to a Budget Ensuite Cabin on our last night to allow us to pack up our tent before heavy rain set in on the last day of our holiday. It was an extra $67 well spent.

Petrol:

2.5 fills for the entire round trip, including traveling to Yackandandah and Beechworth and back, total cost $185.

(The extra half a tank was due to the stop-start traffic we encountered when we reached the Western Ring Road on our return to Melbourne. Traffic all the way home was a crawl because of heavy rain, road works and lane closures).

Food:

We brought the first nights food from home, then spent $63.25 in the Bright IGA supermarket, dinner for 2 at the Porepunkah Pub included drinks $45, one take-away fish and chips $16, Devonshire tea at Red Stag $14, lunch at Beechworth Bakery $11. Total $149.25. The total costs for seven days (not including Christmas shopping) was $605.25. And the fresh air and relaxation priceless!

All in all, an affordable, most relaxing and enjoyable holiday.

Fine wines. Fine time. Courtesy Alpine Region Tourism
Fine wines. Fine time. Courtesy Alpine Region Tourism
Alpine  trout test anglers. Courtesy Alpine Region Tourism
Alpine trout test anglers. Courtesy Alpine Region Tourism
360 degree views at Red Stag Deer and Emu Farm
360 degree views at Red Stag Deer and Emu Farm
Ireland St Bright
Ireland St Bright
Old Tobacco Shed Bright
Old Tobacco Shed Bright
Ostrich and Emus at Red Stag Deer and Emu Farm
Ostrich and Emus at Red Stag Deer and Emu Farm
Our campsite from the camp kitchen
Our campsite from the camp kitchen
Outside Porepunkah Bistro
Outside Porepunkah Bistro
The new terrace viewed from the dining room at the Red Stag
The new terrace viewed from the dining room at the Red Stag
This group of cyclists  meet every year at Porepunkah Pines
This group of cyclists meet every year at Porepunkah Pines
Vintners Garden at Red Stag
Vintners Garden at Red Stag
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