For the second time in 12 weeks, we decided to park our camper trailer at Porepunkah, approximately 6kms from Bright in the Victorian high country. Bright is one of my favourite towns in Victoria as its such a pretty place, this time of year though its very busy. Porepunkah is my favourite place to go camping near Bright, just far enough away from the craziness but easy to still get in to town.
There are a couple of caravan parks in Porepunkah and we chose the Porepunkah Bridge Caravan Park due to its proximity to the Ovens River. A lot of the sites are river facing and we were able to secure one in the christmas overflow area.
The Ovens River is not very deep in this area and its prefect for the kids to float down on inflatable tubes. They would come through some small rapids right in front of our camp and get out to walk back up to the top of the park to float down again. As per usual it was safety in numbers and there were up to 8 kids doing the same thing!
It was a really safe environment as the water wasn’t deep and there were adults sitting along the river frontage all the way down the river. We were at the exit point so if anyone had any trouble we would be there in seconds. All the kids were able to stand in the water though as at the deepest point it was only just over my knee deep. It was a great way to keep the kids entertained and also a good way for them to make new friends. The Ovens River is also a great place for kayaking, as with Lake Catani about 40 mins away near the top of Mt Beauty. You can hire kayaks both in Bright and at Lake Catani.
The Rail Trail goes for 116kms from Bright through to Wangaratta, passing through Porepunkah, Ovens, Myrtleford, Gapsted and Beechworth in Victoria’s High Country. This is a picturesque area of Victoria and a relatively easy ride. On our first day we all rode from Porepunkah to Ovens which is a 19km ride. Unfortunately, the kids were tired and mum had a dodgy seat so we chose to call Bus-A-Bike to pick us up and take us back to our caravan park. Its a great option for those with kids that aren’t sure how far they can go. The owners were the nicest people and they’re only a phone call away!
We also rode into Bright from Porepunkah which is a more manageable 12km round trip and the ride back to Porepunkah is the easier ride which was great. We rode in and had breakfast at the Ginger Baker Cafe which backs on to Centenary Park. The meals were superb and the setting beautiful. We met a family on the Rail Trail from the caravan park and they ended up joining us for breakfast which was great. The kids did a brilliant job riding all that way when they are only 6, 8 & 11 years old. Bright hosts the Adventure Travel Film Festival every February which we go to each year.
The park has 191 sites and an overflow bush camping area at the bottom of the park. There are powered and unpowered sites for campers/caravans and there are a number of cottages/ mobile homes available for hire. Some of the sites are permanently leased.
We had an unpowered site in the overflow area and its such a great spot as its quiet and there’s a lot more space down in that area. This area was not full but there was a steady stream of people coming and going at different times over the week. We were the only ones down in that area over the Melbourne Cup long weekend and this time there were a few more around but we certainly didn’t feel crammed in.
The sites facing the river are lovely although we preferred the space we had down the end. The only problem with the overflow area is that its a fair hike to the toilet so if you are staying down there make sure you bring your bike, its much quicker to ride your bike up and down to the loo!
There are two toilet blocks in the park. One is located in the centre of the park, the other towards the top of the park. The facilities are cleaned twice a day to I found them to be very clean considering the amount of people using them. The middle set has had a recent upgrade and this one was the closest to our camp. If I had one comment, it would be that they need another toilet block closer to the bottom end of the park but as Julie, the owner, explained when I was leaving, this area is only used at Christmas, Easter and Cup weekend and therefore the cost wouldn’t be justified. I understand that its a business decision. It won’t stop me going there, it will just mean we have to bring our bikes to get there a bit quicker!
Nearly all the kids had their bikes, ours included! Park rules are that kids must have helmets on when riding their bikes and no kids are to ride bikes after dark. I totally agree with those rules and think that Mick and Julie have introduced these rules for the safety of all. Its difficult enough during the day when driving around to keep one eye on all the kids zipping around as well as the road but it would be very dangerous at night.
The park has a swimming pool and kids play area. We never took the kids to the pool as they were happy enough playing in the river with all the other kids. The pool never seemed to be too crowded, I assume most like us prefer the river. The kids often played playground but as you can see below, it is really for little kids. The kids generally played there until it was warm enough to get into the river.
The Porepunkah Bridge Caravan is a dog friendly park, this is unusual these days and it was such a treat to have all the pets there. We left ours at home as we were unsure how she would go, she hasn’t camped with us before. Everyone walked their dogs down to where we were camping and we knew them all by name, well the kids did anyway.
The people camping next to us (but a good distance away) had a red heeler, Rusty. Craig was talking to the owner and he went to shake his hand. The dog went to attack Craig which of course frightened the earth out of Craig and I. The kids weren’t there at the time but this left me on edge for the rest of the day. I warned the kids not to go near it and anyone else that spoke to us. To be fair, that was the only issue we had, we hardly knew the dog was there otherwise but it did have me on edge every time I saw the owner walking it. I was going to report it to Mick and Julie but we only had that one issue and hey, I suppose (hope) they will read this!
We loved this park, so much so that we are returning next Christmas, I have already booked! Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m not that keen on returning to the same place when there are plenty of other things to experience. This time I was out voted though and the kids decided they want to go back there next year. The kids made friends with some of the regulars that go there every year and they were very sad when we had to go home.
I booked the same location (even though its a hike to the loo!), we think we had the best spot in the park. One of the best things for me was waking up to the sound of the kookaburra’s. Nothing beats the laugh of our native and wild kookaburra. The kids are getting older now so I don’t have to follow them around all day. Craig and I get to relax a little and let them have a little freedom. Its good for them and its even better for us! I know they are safe in the park and I know there are other parents watching out, just like we were watching out for everyone else kids getting out of the river.
The owners have taken over management of the park again, Mick and Julie have a big job and they are doing a great job. They are lovely people and being the owners they have everyone’s best interests at heart. Mick is regularly seen around the park, he’s very approachable if you have an issue. Not that I had any but he always stopped and said hello when he rode past on his golf buggy. They have planted a lot of new trees in the overflow area and once they grow a bit, the area is going to be beautiful. Be aware though, we’ve got the best spot and we are keeping it!
Sal & Co.