Bright Pictorial Heritage 1850 to 2011

Beautiful Trees in Bright

About this Project
Brief History of Bright
Historical Timeline
Old Tobacco Sheds and Gold Museum
Boys' Camp
Bright Cemetery
Courthouse and Lockup
Beautiful Trees in Bright
Memorial Arboretum
Gold Mining
Canyon Gold Sluicing Site
Freeburgh and Germantown
Baker's Gully Reserve
Bright Railway 1890 to 1983
Early Horseraces
Early Miniature Car Races
Huggin's Lookout
Clear Spot, Apex, Tower Hill Lookouts
Walking Tracks
References and Bibliography

1960* Main street

1929 Unveiling War Memorial

1950 Main street in Bright

1955 Main street

Considered within Victoria, Bright's Street Trees and other trees on public land present an unequalled display of exotic planting styles from the late nineteenth century to the post World War Two period. Coupled with this, is the maturity and health of most of the trees and the associated built elements from some of the periods, including the stone shelter and gates.

Each planting era matches a phase in the development of the town for tourism and public amenity, parallelling the town's early role as a tourist destination and the gradual decline of the previous mining economy and the forestation needed to remedy its legacy. 

The street and public trees of Bright, above all towns in the State, provide substantial evidence of a distinctive and long-term dedication to forestry and tree planting to enhance the tourist potential and amenity of the town. The choice and disposition of trees is also unusual (bunyas, alternating with cedars). 

Bright's trees have been judged favourably by newspaper correspondents and lauded in tourist publications since the late nineteenth century for their aesthetic merit and the enhancement of the aesthetic experience of the town. The trees have also been the focus of local publications over the years and recently identified and valued in the Bright community workshops.

The early cemetery plantings (bunyas, cedars) are linked with the notable botanist von Mueller whose name is also linked with early exploration of the area..
Following the proclamation of the Shire of Bright in 1866, improvements to the town included an extensive and ambitious street tree planting scheme. Exotic deciduous trees planted included oaks, elms, poplars, maples, dogwoods and chestnuts. Bright's street trees have long been a key element of the town's special character and visual beauty, and have played a key part in the promotion of Bright for tourism, which began in the 1887, with the formation of the Bright Alpine Club and the publication of its first guidebook to the district. This described the streets as "profusely planted with English trees" and claimed that the "beautiful tints . . . serve to revive old England in a way that probably no other town in the Australian colonies can do."

Early praise for Bright's street trees came in 1889 from a visiting journalist, Telemachus (alias Francis Myers), who observed that the elms and poplars "already overtop the one-storey houses". When the Vagabond, visiting shortly before, had failed to comment on the trees, the local paper complained that he missed seeing the town "with the halo of Easter thrown over it". Telemachus's indication that the trees were relatively substantial in height by 1889 suggests that the first plantings probably occurred in the 1870s. It is highly likely that they were selected by the government botanist, Ferdinand Mueller, who carried out a large-scale disbursement of seeds and plants from the Melbourne Botanic Gardens during the period 1859-73. The fact that Mueller provided the ornamental trees for Bright Cemetery in 1873 suggests he may have also been involved in the selection of the town's street trees, although no record of this has yet been found.

The Bright Progress Association proposed extending the street tree planting in the early 1900s. Paralleling the opening of the road to Mount Buffalo in 1908, the association's tree planting plans advanced with the belief that further planting would improve the experience of visiting the town as well as keeping down dust for tourists. This was also a period when soil conservation of the denuded mining slopes around Bright and Myrtleford inspired the planting of exotic forests.

A photograph by Nicholas Caire taken c.1920 shows medium-height oak trees in Ireland Street. Further planting reputedly took place in the 1930s, no doubt as part of a scheme to further beautify the town. This was complemented from 1916 by the large-scale planting of "Pinus insignia" (later "P. radiata", Monterey pine) by the Forestry Department on the former mining sites surrounding the township. Although principally a measure to combat soil erosion, this also advantaged tourism by keeping down the dust from old mines and by generally beautifying the area.

The annual Autumn Festival, first held in 1963, relies significantly on the striking backdrop provided by the diverse array of exotic trees.

In the 1980s a tree walk was developed for visitors to the town and the Forests Commission published a guide, "The Street Trees of Bright".

1975* Old Post Office (my car and my mate!)

2010* Alpine Hotel

2011* Clocktower

1911 Bright-Omeo Coach outside Harrietville Hotel

1920 Alpine Hotel

1900 Bright-Omeo coach at Mt Hotham

Comments welcome, to  Bob Padula