Some suggested short and longer self-directed excursion rides around Wangaratta you can easily do with friends.
1. Glenrowan - 16 kms
The township of Glenrowan may be most famous as the site of the final siege and capture of Ned Kelly and his gang in 1880. Their story is preserved in the townships attractions, museums, and historic walk. However, there is much more to Glenrowan than Ned and his armour. The town also features plenty of venues to eat and drink. Worth a ride. Easy back roads 30 km roundtrip. MAP
2. Milawa - 18 kms
This historical town is the centre of the Milawa Gourmet Region. They invite you to 'Come, discover, stay, eat and drink' at one of Australia's favourite food and wine epicentres, centred around the small townships of Milawa, Oxley, Tarrawingee, Markwood and Whorouly. Major attractions include the Brown Brothers Winery with its Epicurean Centre, the Milawa Cheese Company, Milawa Mustards and the Olive Shop. MAP
3. Eldorado - 21 kms
The old Gold Rush town of Eldorado once had a population of over 7,000 residents. Consequently Eldorado spreads ... and spreads ... and spreads. In the centre there's a general store, pub, a park, the church and the local museum. Beyond it the surviving houses are scattered along the valley. The highlight is clearly the remarkable Eldorado Dredge which is not only a huge piece of machinery in the middle of nowhere but an opportunity to learn about the latter stages of the town's gold mining and mineral riches. Worth a vist and you can easily spend an hour exploring the old dredge. MAP
3. Wallow in a Swimming Hole - 163 kms
Swimming in a clear mountain stream is one of the most delightful natural experiences you could ever wish for. The Ovens River flows through Wangaratta and onto the Murray but has its source high in the Victorian Alps above the picturesque town of Bright. The fresh, clear and bracing mountain waters of the upper Ovens River make it an ideal river to swim in. Dam walls at Bright and Porepunkah provide beautiful swimming holes that let you get out of your depth. Both these spots have changing sheds. Alternatively the water holes amongst the river stones at Nimmo Bridge in Myrtleford, where the locals go, provide a more natural playground setting. You can get to these water holes using Victoria’s “Great Alpine Road”, Australia's highest year-round accessible sealed road. This iconic road starts in Wangaratta and climbs over Mount Hotham (1,861 metres) and finishes just outside the Gippsland town of Bairnsdale some 310 kms away. Although the ride along the Ovens River Valley towards Bright is relatively flat, it offers beautiful river and mountain scenery. You’ll see many old drying kilns on route as the area was once home to Victoria’s tobacco growing industry. This has now given way to vineyards, hops, nut trees and local gourmet produce. As you approach Porepunkah the impressive granite rock bulk of Mount Buffalo comes into view. Even during hot weather Bright remains cool and green thanks in part to its magnificent mature European street trees which provide generous shade in summer and spectacular coloured foliage during Autumn. The town is the gateway to the Victorian snowfields of Mt Hotham and Dinner Plain. The Splash Park adjacent to Bright’s swimming hole, with its big dump bucket, provides hours of mischievous watery fun for kids.
On the way back to Wangaratta, Happy Valley Hotel just east of Myrtleford is a pretty pub for a light meal or refreshing drink under its vine covered verandah. A lemon-lime bitters of course since you are riding. You can also drop by the Ovens River Streamside Reserve at Tarrawingee on the way back to Wangaratta. MAP Plotaroute Google Map
4. King Valley Winery Wander - 135 kms
This picturesque ride takes you along the King Valley, named after the nearby King River. Although a relatively flat road, the journey is a very scenic one as you watch the distant blue mountains approaching. King Valley is the home of numerous wineries, many with very attractive outdoor settings that offer both tastings and relaxed dinning. Multiple generations of Italian migrants brought their passion for alternative grape varieties and Italian wines to the King Valley. Otto Dal Zotto planted the first prosecco vines in the 1990s, inspired by his childhood in Valdobbiadene, prosecco's birthplace. King Valley has some of the highest altitude vineyards in Australia, which make them perfect for these sparkling cool-climate whites. Sometimes referred to as The Prosecco Road, the food and wine trail through King Valley is a celebration of Italian hospitality. You will also be riding beside a 2 foot 6 inch narrow gauge railway line which opened in 1899. It used steam engines of the same design as Puffing Billy and served the region taking goods and passengers between Wangaratta and Whitfield. The line closed in 1953. If you look carefully you can see the remnants of this line including a number of station signs. The valley starts to narrow as you get to Cheshunt. The last winery in the valley is Christmont Cellars under Powers Lookout. Their restaurant balcony has a splendid view over their vineyards and to the mountains on the opposite side of the valley. You can enjoy a great cheese platter and tasting there. A 30-km round trip further down King Valley will take you to Lake William Hovell. Beyond this dam 4WD tracks head up into the mountains proper.
If you live in Melbourne, this route could be part of your way home. Just turn off at Whitfield towards Tolmie and go up and over the mountains to Mansfield. Stop off at Powers Lookout at the top of the climb for spectacular views over the King Valley. There are cafes at Milawa, Moyhu and Whitfield. Fuel is available at Oxley, Moyhu and Whitfield. MAP
5. Mt Buffalo Bash - 223 kms
Mount Buffalo is the most visually striking landscape feature within reach from Wangaratta. You’ll need to allow 4.5 - 5 hours to include sightseeing. The journey begins with a lovely scenic 70 km ride along the Great Alpine Road which follows the Ovens River Valley. This will bring you Porepunkah and the Mount Buffalo turn off at the big round-about. A steep winding sealed road with some exciting hairpin bends takes you to the top of Mount Buffalo, a large granite plateau that was formed underground millions of years ago. It was named by explorers Hume and Hovell in 1824 because of its supposed resemblance to a reclining buffalo. Above 1,300 metres the temperature is several degrees cooler than in the river valley which gives it an Alpine landscape. With the beginning of tourism in the 1880s an area around The Gorge was reserved as a national park. To accommodate the increasing number of visitors, Mount Buffalo Chalet was built in 1910. It was taken over by Victorian Railways in 1924 but has been closed since 2007. It is the largest timber building in Australia. Opposite the Chalet is Mount Buffalo Gorge and Lookout. Between the sheer granite cliffs on either side there are spectacular views down to the Ovens River Valley. The cliffs are popular for rock climbing and there is a launch ramp for hang gliders. There are also waterfalls on the edge of escarpment. Once on top of the plateau there are many geological formations to explore which can be accessed along Mount Buffalo Tourist Road. Chalwell Galleries, Torpedo Rock, Leviathan and The Sentinel. Most will require some walking on foot. At the end of the tourist road you will find The Horn carpark. At 1,723 metres, The Horn is Mount Buffalo’s highest point. A stone lookout shelter perched precariously atop the granite cliffs at the edge of the Mount Buffalo plateau overlooks surrounding mountains far below.A suggestion. Pack a lunch (don’t forget some fluids) and picnic on one of the many tables beside pretty Lake Catani, an artificial manmade lake about 3.5 kms from the Chalet. The Dingo Dell Cafe is 3 kms further along the road and is usually open during weekends. MAP plotaroute MAP Google