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Bright

310km (193 miles) NE of Melbourne; 700km (435 miles) SW of Sydney; 74km (46 miles) E of Wangaratta

Set in a valley and surrounded by pine forests, Bright offers good access to the surrounding High Country and ski fields. The town is famous for the colors of its European trees in fall. There are nice walks around here, especially along the pretty Ovens River, while another option is to hire bicycles and take off through the countryside down a former railway track. Cycling at least part of the Rail Trail (www.railtrail.com.au) will give you a nice feel for the area, with its surrounding mountains, farms, and river. The track stretches 94km (58 miles) from Bright to Wangaratta. Rent bikes (and skis, if you're off to the snowfields) in Bright.

Getting There -- V/Line trains (www.vline.com.au) run between Melbourne and Bright, via Wangaratta or Seymour, daily. Return fares cost A$54 and the trip takes about 4 1/2 hours, with a bus between Wangaratta or Seymour and Bright. However, it's difficult to get around the area without your own transport.

Visitor Information -- Stop by the Alpine Visitors Centre, 119 Gavan St., Bright (tel. 1800/111 885 in Australia or 03/5750 1233; www.brightvictoria.com.au), open 9am to 5pm daily (except Christmas Day and Good Friday). Another useful website is www.visitalpinevictoria.com.au.

Where to Stay & Eat -- The website www.alpinelink.com.au offers a comprehensive list of places to stay in Bright. The best place to eat is Simone's of Bright, 98 Gavan St. (tel. 03/5755 2266; www.simonesrestaurant.com.au). It serves great Italian food in a refined atmosphere, with main courses around A$35. It is open Tuesday to Saturday for dinner only. Otherwise, Bright has plenty of family-friendly cafes, restaurants, and pizza joints.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.