I’m a big city person but sometimes you just need to get out. Away from the noise, the traffic and the concrete jungle to a place a little more natural, with fresh air and the friendly country mentality. A few weeks ago I took a boutique getaway to Marysville.
To Australians the name is synonymous with bush fires, the Black Saturday Bush Fires, some of the worst in Australian history, happened here in 2009 but though there are scars – the ghost gums, lining the ridge above the town, are mere skeletons that will never flourish again – and memories, the town has revived, refreshed and is welcoming visitors back with open arms.
The recently completed Marysville Garden Cottages, that is just a stone throw away from the centre of the town, was my base. With only 8 cottages on site they’re specially designed by the owners to have a relaxed country feel with plenty of luxurious touches – claw-foot bathtubs from which you can sit and watch TV or just watch as the colours reflect through the stained glass window into the water; king or queen beds that you just sink into, gas log fires for a cozy night in and of course the beautiful garden surrounding the property which has been lovingly cultivated with plants or bulbs that survived the fires.
When booking you receive a code to enter your cottage. This eliminates the need for check-in should you wish to arrive late at night or just keep to yourself.
It’s a place that you want to bring your loved one to, especially the Botanica cottage where I stayed. Enjoying the double spa bath before a movie in bed would have been a nice way to end a day.
I even had time to enjoy a cup of tea and some biscuits on the back porch, you might be able to just see my guest peering around the corner of the balcony!
I didn’t know what to do in or around Marysville so I listened to the locals advice who champion each others work and who are incredibly helpful with advice.
A stop had to be made at the award-winning Buxton Ridge Winery, a family owned business specialising in cool climate wines.
One of the beautiful things about the wines is that they are named after family members, including the 2006 Molly Jean Pinot Noir and the 2010 Lorna Grace Pinot Noir.
My favourite was the 2012 Katie Maree Sauvignon Blanc which tasted like spring – a gentle drink with hints of passionfruit, oak and orange marmalade.
The wines tasting is paired with a variety of local cheeses and fruit, and in the tasting store there are a variety of different local products for sale – from teas to BBQ marinades – as well as photos of the winery from the time it was set-up, through surviving Black Saturday to today.
Usually a conference and accommodation centre, ring ahead to Saladin Lodge and find out if they are opening their cafe during your stay.
A new concept for the Lodge’s owner Kim, she has set up a small cafe in one of the outdoor sheds where nibbles and coffee can be enjoyed with an impressive view over the property. A small boutique operates inside the case with sculptures in the shape of insects by a local artist, handbags, scarves, jams, paintings and jewellery are also on sale inside.
Take the drive up to the Steavenson Falls, one of the tallest in Victoria. To think that the entire area surrounding the falls was reduced to ash during the Black Saturday Bush fires is astonishing as the plans now stand lush and green, with just a few skeletal Ghost Gums remaining in the distance.
Though I didn’t see one, Lyrebirds are often seen in the morning and after rain searching for insects and worms.
For a romantic touch, the falls are lit up until 11pm each night so bring your loved one up here with a bottle of wine and some nibbles for a bit of romance in a natural setting
Book your reservation in advance and arrange for the Black Spur Inn‘s bus to come pick you up from your hotel for the night’s dinner.
Offering a range of traditional Pub dishes, as well as some dishes influenced by the local area, the meals at the Inn are large and filling. Be sure to stay for dessert as their white chocolate and blueberry spring rolls with berry coulis may sound a bit unconventional but I assure you that from the crispy exterior the flavoursome white chocolate and blueberry bursts out creating a delicious juxtaposition.
If you’re feeling a bit adventurous take the drive up to Lake Mountain Alpine Resort. The resort is the closest place to Melbourne to see snow – mainly cross-country skiing – but come summer there’s mountain bike riding, zip-lining and some stunning hikes to take.
A little closer to town is Bruno’s Art & Sculpture Garden. Much of the work was damaged in the first but thanks to volunteers and many painstaking hours some pieces have been put back together and others made anew.
The expansive rainforest garden seems to never end as hundreds of sculptures comes to life – some may even scare you at their life-like looks, and you can easily get lost in the space for an hour or more.
It’s an easy 90-minute drive to Marysville from Melbourne’s city centre, driving along highways through to Healesville – a great destination to stop in, particularly if you want to get up close with some local wildlife at Healesville Sanctuary – before driving through the stunning Black Spur between Healesville and Marysville. Just roll down the windows and breathe in the fresh forest air.
Have you ever been to Marysville?
What would you most like to do on your Marysville getaway?
Many thanks to Marysville Tourism for inviting me to experience Marysville.
All opinions, as always, are my own.