Since the age of eight my family and I have been travelling to Bright for quiet, simple and relaxing camping trips.
Starting off on Labour Day weekend, somewhere along the line the family swapped to the Melbourne Cup Day weekend and has stayed that way since, visiting every year.
Camping among the thousands of people in the same park year after year, we made friends with site neighbours before finally booking our regular site, which we have booked for the past eight years.
Keeping in touch with friends along the way, each year provides a reunion with people from Melbourne and all across the state.
Each year, the caravan is packed to the rafters with sleeping bags, tents, food, torches and games to provide full comfort for our holiday.
Two sites are booked enabling the whole family and now partners and grandchildren to attend and, if life prevails like this year, there is room to invite friends.
Why not take some time out to kick back and relax with your family, share a meal together or go on a road trip.
As long as I can remember I have praised Bright and the feeling of relief that came with it when visiting.
My school diaries show numbers on every page from September, counting down to the annual weekend away.
Every year we reminisce on stories from our trips, the times we were washed out by the rain, the times we got sunburnt and which stalls were at the market the year before.
Nights are spent around the fire, chatting about the year that’s been, what’s new in the park and where we will venture to the following day.
Over the years we have visited Mt Buffalo, Wandiligong, Mt Hotham, Porepunkah and Feathertop Winery, but mainly we enjoy relaxing in the park with a book, walking up the creek or wandering through the town shops.
We enjoy seeing the same caravans pull into the park year after year or the same families with an upgrade after getting wet from the last stay.
Bright will always be my safe place. We have so many stories to share, including the year my sister and now brother-in-law got engaged and were married the week after we came back the following year.
The year my sister was pregnant and my dad towed my grandparents’ van up as well as his own to ensure she would be comfortable and the following year when my other sister was pregnant.
Now the announcement of Dave and my engagement this year and we will be returning next year as Mr and Mrs Byron.
We have seen so many changes come and go to the park, new camp kitchens, cabins, water parks and mini golf, but it’s the sense of home that brings us back year after year.
Although our tradition isn’t to dress up to the nines and run a bet, our Melbourne Cup Day will always be known to us as Bright weekend.
The weekend that stops our family and reminds us to appreciate each other and what we have.
Madeleine Caccianiga is a News journalist.