A couple of months ago, I was in Dinner Plain in Victoria. It’s the snowy part of the Victorian. It’s a high Alpine country along Great Alpine road. The only reason that I know of this place is because my bro is a co-owner of a restaurant called Tsubo restaurant, which they purchased some time last year. For the past two years, I have made appearances to the alpine village. I wrote about it on my first trip last year my home in Dinner Plain, and also the first week of us being there this year road trip to Dinner Plain. Only this year though, I have managed to squeeze a walk here and there to see what Dinner Plain is all about—even then, I barely scratched the surface of it! I have followed a trail or two and walked around the village—too bad though it’s a bit too early for snow season and also my trips were more work related than leisure. But this years trip, I have managed to come to learn a thing or two about Dinner Plain.
Dinner Plain History
Dinner Plain, the Alpine village, holds about 300 houses. There’s about 640 acres there started by Rundells of Flourbag Plain. In 1883, a road was completed between Omeo and Bright. When travellers, used to travel between Omeo and Bright, they would stop over here for feed. Hence, the name Dinner Plain. Back then, they were on coache-driven-horses so I’d assume the travel would have been quite long. Today, however, Omeo to Dinner plain is about one hour drive. Then another one hour or so drive to Bright. It would still be an ideal place to stop over for a coffee before driving down the mountain.
McNamaras-Omeo glaziers used to own Dinner Plain as part of their big land and the 640 acres bit was later purchased by Matthew Rundell. In 1850’s gold was also found in this area and miners flocked the area in search of gold in every creek all the way close to Dinner Plain.
The Rundells have a history here dating back to 1904. You can read more about Rundells story here. It’s a good read. They are originally from Flourbag Plain, it’s close to Dinner Plain. They set up their lodge there, about five kilometres away before moving to where it is now in Dinner Plain. They had two rooms, and two cabins and even hosted a high profile personality like the then Governor of Victoria Sir Thomas Gibson Carmichael.
The above photograph is called Carmichaels Falls. It was named after Governor of Victoria Sir Thomas Gibson Carmichael. It’s a short one kilometre walk. Two kilometres return. When I saw this short walk I thought, it would be a good idea. One kilometre walk doesn’t sound so far away and I have enough stamina for those kind of walks. The terrain was easy enough to walk through. The terrain gradually climbs down, you won’t even feel it—but after a while you’ll notice your legs are getting wobbly—one kilometre for an unfit person like me was not an easy walk after all. Then you have to climb back up!
This area were once used by cattle grazers and built huts. Today, many are left in ruins after the 2003 fire. Peter McIntyre who was inspired by the cattlemen’s huts, used it’s design and built the village. You’ll find the designs of the houses are very much consistent. They are quite strict on how the properties are built—if you walk around look around, you can see the uniqueness that is Dinner Plain and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The construction of buildings are restricted to timber, local stone, corrugated iron. You’ll also find, there are no fences around the houses, no antennas and clothes line. It’s all part of their strict design. Buildings are also subjected to heigh restrictions. It’s quite interesting actually, because having all these restrictions made the village look really good, to a point where, the success of this architectural design became a benchmark which led to the Alpine look and it’s development and now adopted by Alpine resorts in Australia.
Bush fires are pretty common in Australia and few other countries in the world. In 2003, the high country bushfire destroyed a lot of the vegetations and it has since been recovering. Most have vegetations have recovered, but you can still see it’s destruction as you do your bush walks. There were a lot of fallen trees, or trees still standing but lost all it’s leaves.
Most of my bush walking is more for photography and all I could see were dead trees! Even though, there were a lot of vegetations, I could tell, there was some sort of disaster that swept through the area. Still it was a good walk, cold but a good walk none the less. We were couple of weeks away from winter right?
And oh the weather there changes so rapidly—at least this time this year. We had a day, where fog came in and stays for about five to ten minutes then disappears again. Then came back in again and then magically disappears again! Well this day, when the fog settled in just before one in the afternoon, I got my bro to stand in for me and took a picture of him in the middle of the fog. I thought it would look great in photo and then turn into black and white or something similar.
Things to do in Dinner Plain
Dinner Plain was officially opened in 1986 Robert Fordman who was the premier back then. Whilst, I haven’t had the opportunities to really explore and discover Dinner Plain, and on top of that stay during the winter season, Dinner Plain have activities all through out the year. Winter being the biggest of them all due to snow season where people come up.
Snow season—Dinner plain is sheltered from weather elements so, if you are not skiing or snow boarding downhill there are plenty of snow play in the area. You could go cross country skiing, the trails are starts near the village and it’s a network of trails and many connects you from one to the other. The trails are marked—but you do have to pay attention. These markings are easy to miss if you don’t pay attention. I was mostly looking at the ground where I step because the ground were uneven and looking up occasionally to find the marking was right in front of me. There were ice patches too and I was weary that I might step on it and slip. Who knows how many markings I’ve missed. Still I didn’t get lost, the trails were clear and visible. There are also snow tours, dog sled races and plenty more.
Off season—there are various treks around, some short and some long, for example, the Room with a view walk is about three kilometres walk from easy to moderate level of difficulty. There’s Carmichael falls trail—but this one is more moderate level of difficulty. Then there are Dead Timber walks about four kilometres, then there’s Table top walk which is about twenty kilometres walk. You get the idea.
Aside, from trail walks, you could do horse riding—but I am not sure who services this. Apparently the rivers there are pretty good too. So there’s fly fishing or simply chill out by the river.
Dinner Plain is open all year round and in certain times of the year, they have activities.
Then, there are places where you can stay and relax, like the spa or have a bit of work out in the gym. There are places to eat too, cafe’s like the Mountain kitchen, DP Hotel, High Plains Hotel, Rundells, Tsubo restaurant.
Nearest towns, Omeo and Bright
Dinner Plain, is between Omeo and Bright. Omeo is a smaller town. It’s about forty kilometres. You’ll be driving on a windy road and if you are a driver like me who don’t drive fast, it will take you about one hour drive. We stopped over this town last year on our way to Bairnsdale. We had to pick up deliveries from the post office—wall decors for Tsubo restaurant. It’s a small town and we didn’t spend enough to have a stroll in this area and see what it’s all about.
Bright, is at the bottom of the mountain—Dinner Plain sits between Omeo and Bright. Most people recommend driving through this town to get to Dinner Plain. That is to say, if you are say driving from Melbourne. But if closer perhaps via Bairnsdale-Omeo might be better. This year, when we drove to Melbourne city, we passed through Bright and through to Hume Highway which took us all the way to the city. The other way was going through Omeo-Bairnsdale, but most people seem to prefer Bright. Most of transportation services goes through here too. For instance, if you were to catch a bus, you’d end up in Bright to take your next bus to say Melbourne, as our friend Tegan did.
I know it seems longer, because Bright is about sixty seven kilometres from Dinner Plain and it would take you between one hour to one hour and half of travel, but Bright has all the goods you need. It has more businesses than Omeo, it would feel like a normal suburb. It has banks and ATM’s, greater businesses facilities, like real estate, groceries stores, accountants—you know, like a normal suburb.
The photo I took above is the central town of Bright. This was on a foggy morning and the town looked so fresh that it just begged to be photographed. I went into a cafes there and saw a photo of Bright in snow. Apparently, this happened about fifteen years ago. It snowed for a brief moment in the morning, that mid morning the snow was gone. It doesn’t normally snow in Bright but it did that day.
Now, back to Dinner Plain. I am a Filipino living in Australia and is based in Sydney and we have our own snowy mountains and a few hours closer. One would think, why travel those extra hours and cross the border? The major reason, is because of my bro and his restaurant. The second, is why not? I got to know some of the locals there and they are very down to earth and they make me feel very welcome to be in their village. My other bros have been coming here since then. Last year and also this is has been planned as well.
The conclusion is, Dinner Plain has a bit to offer through out the year. They have different activities during off and on season, winter with the most activities. Also, did I mention their water is straight off the mountain and it really really tastes good! I mean, like, oh wow! No water tasted this good! I could say, it taste like real water! Its simply the best! So, if you are heading out to Dinner Plain, I bet you’ll enjoy it. The locals are great to talk to, friendly and the food there are great!