Towns on the Great Alpine Road

The Great Alpine Road starts or finishes in Bairnsdale in East Gippsland or Wangaratta in North East Victoria. The Great Alpine Road twists turns and ebbs its way through the Great Dividing Range from the shores of the Gippsland Lakes to within a shadow of the New South Wales border at Wangaratta.

Towns on the Great Alpine Road include Swifts Creek and Harrietville, sky slopes at Hotham and Dinner Plain, and the Alpine Valleys at Bright and Wine regions at Myrtleford. The Great Alpine Road is 308 kilometres long road and provides panoramic views as it rises into the mountains and winds back down into the Alpine Valleys. Along the way, you will find the towns of Bairnsdale, Bruthen, Swifts Creek, Omeo, Dinner Plain, Mount Hotham, Harrietville, Bright, Myrtleford and Wangaratta. This Great Alpine Road travel guide tells you a little about the towns on the road.

The Great Alpine Road in the Aline National Park Victoria Australia
Great Alpine Road conditions can change quickly depending on the weather

Towns on the Great Alpine Road

For anyone travelling the Great Alpine Road rest stops are needed and towns on the Great Alpine Road are all ready to welcome you. If there is no shop in town there will always be a beautiful rest stop or a small park for you to stretch your legs and have a rest from driving the Great Alpine Road.

Bairnsdale

Bairnsdale is the starting or finishing location on the Great Alpine Road in the east of Victoria, the town is 300 kilometres from Melbourne on the Princess Highway. Bairnsdale has a population of 17,000 people and serves as a hub for smaller surrounding towns such as Lindenow, Paynesville, and Nicholson.

Bairnsdale court house and art gallery
Bairnsdale Gippsland Photoshoot | February 2019

Must-sees in Bairnsdale include St Mary’s Catholic Church with its amazing Italian painted murals and the Krowathunkooloong Keeping Place. For travellers with kids, you will find the Bairnsdale all abilities playground and skate park. Just near Bairnsdale, you will find the Raymond Island Koala Walk and Lakes Entrance a little further on. Make sure you stop and have a look at Bairnsdale things to do before the Great Alpine Road drive starts.

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Bruthen

Bruthen is just 28 kilometres from Bairnsdale on the Great Alpine Road. The town is a popular stopping place for travellers to grab a coffee, cake, pie or beer,

Old style shop on highway in Bruthen
Bruthen in East Gippsland is a popular stop for travellers

The town receives traffic from people on the Great Alpine Road and people who are taking the Nowa Nowa, Bairnsdale bypass road. On the Bairnsdale side of town, there are BBQ facilities and a small skate park. In town, you will find toilets and seating in the medium strip, with plenty of curbside parking. Bruthen is home to the popular Bullant Brewery which serves up craft beer and local produce inspired meals.

Between Bruthen and Omeo is a small community of Ensay. The highlight of the area is the Ensay Winery, add a stop here to your Great Alpine Road itinerary and call into the Cellar Door to grab a bottle of Gippsland wine. Keep an eye out for the Connors Hill Lookout sign just before Swifts Creek for some amazing views of the area on your Great Alpine Road trip.

Swifts Creek

The small mountain town of Swifts Creek is nearly 100 kilometres from Bairnsdale along the Great Alpine Road. Swifts Creek was once a timber town with sawmills employing most of the population.

Town Hall and picnic seating in Swifts Creek on the Great Alpine Road
The Swifts Creek Townhall

Today the small town has become a hot spot for local artists inspired by the surrounding countryside, who display their art at The Great Alpine Gallery. Just next to the Swifts Creek Town hall are some public toilets and a picnic table for travellers where there is an interesting old steam engine on display as well.

The local pub the  Albion Hotel is a focal point of the community activities, while you can grab some food at the local bakery, café, or supermarket. The Swifts Creek Caravan and Tourist parks welcome grey nomads with their caravans. On a hot day in the summer months, the Swifts Creek community swimming pool might be open for use.

Omeo

Climbing high into the mountains of the Great Dividing Range, you will find Omeo. Omeo is your last stop before arriving in the snowfields of Victoria. The town has some outstanding heritage buildings that have been around since the days of the gold rush. For visitors stopping in Omeo, a meal at the Golden Age hotel is a must and a visit to the local history museum and the oriental claims gold mining area are worth a look.

The pump track in Omeo for bikes
The Omeo Pump Track

There are small selections of shops, cafes and public toilets on the main street of town. Omeo is today marketing itself as a biking destination with the completion of the recent pump flow track at Livingstone Park and the planned opening of over 100 kilometres of mountain bike trails.

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Dinner Plain

Dinner Plain is the newest township in the state of Victoria. This Alpine Ski village was built just down the road from Mount Hotham as a location for cross country skiing. Dinner Plain borrows its designs from European Ski villages with its chalets and building, it is worth a stop to walk around and look at the architecture in the Alpine region of Victoria.

European
The Alpine Resorts in Victoria have some amazing looking Chalets for accommodation

The Dinner Plain Hotel is open all year round serving meals and drinks. The are other shops and cafes that open mainly during the snow season when the town is at its busiest. For fitness enthusiasts, Dinner Plain is known for its mountain biking and trail running tracks in the National Park. For something, a little less energetic and more fun Frisbee golf is the go. Staying the night at Dinner Plain is a great idea with awesome accommodation options available at Club Wyndham Dinner Plain.

Mount Hotham

One of Victoria’s premier ski resorts and a short of halfway mark of the Great Alpine Road Victoria, where we say goodbye to Gippsland in the East and say hello to the North East of the state. Mount Hotham is a height of activity in the winter months when the snow has been falling, people staying in chalets, day-trippers from Dinner Plain and Bright fill the slopes.

The tunnel entrance into mount Hotham on the Great Alpine Road
There are plenty of Alpine adventures to be had around Mount Hotham

In the summer months, the Hotham Resort is a real hit-and-miss, you may find nothing at all open but it is still a great place for a short toilet break, leg-stretching or a relaxing stay overnight. It’s well worth a walk around, have a look at ski lifts and the terrain of the Alpine National Park, Victoria. From Hotham, you continue on towards the end of the Great Alpine Road at Wangaratta, 133 kilometres away. One of the Great Alpine Road things to do in this section is to stop and check out the amazing views on offer.

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Harrietville

We are heading for the High Country sings Lee Kernighan as he mentions Harrietville in one of his best songs. When you arrive in Harrietville you have made through one of the most winding steep sections of the Great Alpine Road or you are about to take it on. Harrietville is a pretty small town with a population of around 400 people at last count. The town is popular with bike riders as it’s the start/end of the Murray to Mountains bike trail that stretches over 150 kilometres.

The picturesque main street of Harrietvill with tress lining each side of the road
Harrietville is a must-see on any Great Alpine Road itinerary

For small towns, Harrietville has quite a few options for eating and drinking with pubs, cafes and a bakery. Fishing, swimming, hiking and 4wd driving are popular activities at Harrietville on the Great Alpine Road. The colour of the leaves in this part of Victoria in Autumn is nothing short of sensational. Harrietville is well worth a stop and a walk.

Bright

One of the most popular towns on any Great Alpine Road itinerary is Bright. Popular with weekend visitors from Melbourne, popular with bike riders, and popular with those looking for a base to head skiing on Hotham. Bright has a full calendar of events throughout the year including the Autumn Festival and the annual car event in November. In Bright, the local brewery and distillery are popular locations, while kids can play in the small water park on the Ovens River.

Small water Park at Bright on the Ovens River
Bright is a great spot to cool down during summer on the Great Alpine Road.

There are plenty of accommodation options in Bright from apartments to hotels and caravan parks. There is plenty to see around Bright with a trip to the top of Mount Buffalo a must-do while in the area. Food offerings include Thai, Tomahawks Burgers, and Sir Loins Bar and Grill. The town centre has shopping featuring homewares, boutiques and more waiting for your money. You will find wineries close by at Porpunkah and ciders at Wandiligong.

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Myrtleford

Only 36 kilometres from the start/end of the Great Alpine Road is the beautiful town of Myrtleford. The town is a bit of a fruit and vegetable bowl of the region, with plenty of farm gates and cellar doors to tempt you into the local fresh produce.

Myrtleford street food
Tasty Vietnamese Street Food in Myrtleford

You will find plenty of vegetables, berries, nuts, olives and beef available in and around the town. Much like Harrietville and Bright, Myrtleford is part of the Murray to Mountains bike path, so you see plenty of bike riders exploring the town and region. A standout place to eat in town is Tu Vietnamese Street Foods, they have some of the best Vietnamese food outside Vietnam. Pull up and have a walk around the town centre before continuing your drive on the Great Alpine Road.

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Wangaratta

Wangaratta is either the end or the start of the Great Alpine Road in Northern Victoria and the largest town with a population of 19,000 people. Two of the main rivers of the North East area, the King and Ovens Rivers, meet in Wangaratta before meandering through the surrounding countryside. For those who like fishing, this is perfect with a number of caravan parks on the river in town and the surrounding area.

Being a large regional town, Wangaratta has a lively shopping scene on Murphy, Reid, Ovens and Ford Streets, while a range of markets is held on the weekends throughout each month. Wangaratta is the perfect base for exploring the area with outdoor activities such as biking, gold mining or visiting breweries and wineries of the region. Find somewhere to stay in Wangaratta on your Great Alpine Road trip.

Frequently asked questions about the Great Alpine Road in Victoria Australia

For people who have never had to drive the Great Alpine Road, there are a few questions that they love to have answered before they attempt the drive. Regular visitors to the Great Alpine Road may already know these but it never hurts to have some extra knowledge.

Is The Great Alpine Road suitable for caravans?

If you take it slow and easy, yes you can tow a caravan on the Great Alpine Road in summer. I would avoid it in the winter months when the road can get icy and slippery in the Alpine sections of the road.

Is The Great Alpine Road in Victoria Australia sealed?

The road is sealed the entire length from Bairnsdale to Wangaratta.

Is The Great Aline Road open in Winter?

Yes, the road is open all year round, especially in Winter as it is the only access road to Alpine Resorts Dinner Plain and Mount Hotham in Victoria.

Is there snow on the Great Alpine Road?

In the Winter months, yes there will be snow on the Alpine sections of the road, and it’s required by law that you carry snow chains for your car wheels.

Is there Great Alpine Road accommodation?

You can find accommodation in every town along the road from caravan parks, to hotels and chalets.

How great is the Great Alpine Road?

Is it as all-conquering as Alexander the Great or as entertaining as the Tv Show The Great? Well that is
up to you, it’s a great drive that we recommend everyone should do at some stage if for no other reason than to see some amazing places in North East Victoria and Gippsland Victoria.

The Great Alpine Road is easily accessible from both ends, with the Hume Highway running north to Wangaratta and the Princes Highway running east to Bairnsdale. This makes both these starting and finishing locations easy to access from Melbourne and beyond for the Great Alpine Road drive. The Great Alpine Road weather can change easily as you head into the mountains, so take your time and enjoy. In winter the Great Alpine Road conditions can vary greatly so check the weather forecast before heading up towards Mt Hotham.

If you are looking for more amazing and best places to visit in Victoria or more travel in Victoria destinations Explore Victoria has some more articles below for you to check out. If you have an idea, attraction, or top spot, feel free to leave us a comment or email us at contact@explorevictoriaaustralia.com


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