Rest for the rambler

River trails and the offerings at a local brewery tempt Larry Schwartz out of his cosy alpine retreat.

We venture to the small Alpine Shire town on a grey and forbidding weekend when the snow is thick on nearby Mount Buffalo and it threatens to rain in the township, about 320 kilometres north-east of Melbourne.

As always, we plan to leave home in Melbourne's outer east earlier than we do. It's almost midday by the time we head up the Hume Highway, reaching Bright in the grey, late afternoon.

There is plenty of firewood on the verandah and out the back for the wood heater in the cottage, one of three near the main building. We are soon snug and the temptation is to remain indoors.

There are also three apartments in a mews building behind the Tudor-style main house, which was built in the early 1970s on a half-hectare that was once a timber mill's dump and is now an attractive English woodland garden with maple, oak and some eucalyptus trees.

The cottage enjoys a mountain view through the trees. A path flanked by box hedging leads past a gazebo and fountain.

You walk down a grassy embankment on to the Canyon Walk. Turn left and you're just a few minutes' stroll from the centre of town; right and you can enjoy a lengthier walk along the river.

The deal maker It is a quiet weekend and we are among the few visitors in what turns out to be an ideal location. We're here to rest and ramble, not look for camaraderie. You hear the rush of river the moment you open the front door.

It's cold and drizzly so I take an umbrella as I amble towards the small town once known as Morse Creek and renamed in the 1860s after the British politician John Bright. There is time to stop in a riverside park for some tai chi before heading back again.

Ours is a spacious, airconditioned one-bedroom apartment flanked by the other two, with a comfortable queen-size bed and a free-standing wardrobe on polished wooden floors.

There is an open-plan living area and a fully fitted galley kitchen on terracotta tiles, with two gas hot plates, microwave and fridge.

The bathroom has a spa and shower and a tasteful blue and white tiled floor. Overall, the cottage is simple, clean and uncluttered, with a blur of green through double-glazed windows in the kitchen and a view through the foliage from the windows at the front.

Stepping out The river calls and, soon enough, we venture out along the thickly wooded path - where you can stand on a bridge and watch the water surge beneath you - or stroll into town for coffee at a small restaurant that shares its name, Ginger Baker, with a rock drummer best known for his stints with Cream and Blind Faith.

I stop at a tiny second-hand bookstore but having brought along my own little stack and finding nothing I want among the scuffed offerings, I settle for a variety of beers at Bright Brewery, including a malt-flavoured, Belgian-style "dubbel" with a hefty 8.5 per cent alcohol content, which the brewers caution you "treat ... with reverence, lest it smite you down".

Bright is as pretty a town as I had been led to believe. The few days pass too quickly.

VISITORS' BOOK

Merrimeet Cottages

Address 40 Showers Avenue, Bright.

The verdict Comfortable getaway, close to the river and town.

Prices for apartments and cottages range from $155 to $180 a night a couple. The one-bedroom cottage is $170 a night. There is an extra $15 charge for a single night during a weekend.

Bookings Phone (03) 5755 2040, see merrimeetcottages.com.au.

Getting there 320 kilometres via the Hume Highway and Great Alpine Road.

Perfect for A couple or family.

Wheelchair access No.

While you're there Visit the wineries, enjoy the river walks, cafes including Ginger Baker and The River Deck Cafe and restaurants including Simone's, Poplars and Sole e Luna.

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