Today started with a late breakfast at Fraga’s Café, on the main street in Marysville. Run by a husband and wife couple for the past 10+ years, their premises was so badly damaged in the fires that it had to be completely rebuilt and refitted. Added to this was the devastation of losing their our home, along with a number of employees, close friends and neighbours. Like the rest of the town, however, they salvaged what they could from the ruins – including familiar street signs – and started to rebuild not only their life but their town.
Operating initially from tents, they kept going despite ongoing losses simply because they were needed. In September 2009, 7 months after the fires, they finally moved back into their premises. Open 7 days a week, they offer home-baked cakes, pies, local produce, salads and the best coffee around. While digging into breakfast, we flicked through scrapbooks created of before and after the fire, including the rebuilding process. Their motto? “Café with soul”. And it certainly had that!
1/19 Murchison Street, Marysville
Phone: (03) 5963 3216
Full up from breakfast, we took the short drive up to Steavenson Falls, located south-east of Marysville. Open seven days a week for visitors, and floodlit until 11pm for any late night explorers, they are one of the largest in Victoria, with five tumbling cascades and a total drop of 122 metres. The last drop alone is over 22 metres. It also suffered extensively in the fires, with the only item recoverable being the hydro-electric generator used at night to light the falls. Today, the falls are a stunning sight and well worth the short five-minute walk to the bridge that crosses them. Water from these falls flows all the way down to the Marysville township, down a small creek which follows the main street, and out into the surrounding properties.
Our next adventure lay waiting only a short drive away at the top of Lake Mountain Alpine Resort. Who new this world existed just two hours from Melbourne? We were told by our Guide for the day that, despite it being perfectly sunny with a gentle breeze while we were there, only a week earlier they had received snow! Don’t be deceived by the Resort name either, which conjures up images of snow-capped hills, skiing and fireplaces. This spot is a hive of activity all year round, with plenty to do for all ages! Some of the activities on offer are:
– Mountain biking. With 15km of tracks, there are trips covering beginner to extreme. How game are you?!
– Road cycling. This 22km ride is part of the 7 Peaks Alpine Ascent Challenge, and we spotted numerous riders during our stopover here.
– Summit climb. At 1400m high, you are guaranteed spectacular views of Marysville and surrounds.
– Walking tracks.
– Motoring. If you want a leisurely cruise or something a little more challenging around the twists and turns, the 20.78m ascent will provide it! If it’s good enough for the Top Gear crew to test out the Car of the Year, it’s good enough for you! (http://www.topgear.com/au/car-news/COTY-sportscars)
– Snow skiing. In winter months, (or during the odd summer snowfall just like the week before!), the Resort offers cross-country skiing and full ski hire facilities.
While Susie’s attempt at the mountain biking was short-lived thanks to a tummy bug, Wayne gave it the full go and came back exhausted but exhilarated. Talk about a workout with a view! Sadly our GoPro lost its connection when Wayne began the descent, which would have captured the spectacular scenes while flying down the mountainside. While the rest of our tour group opted for a summit climb before lunch, our interest was piked the minute our Guide mentioned there was a flying fox on site. There’s not many opportunities to do an activity like this, let alone in such stunning surroundings, so of course we had to give it a try. For those who are somewhat hesitant about jumping off a mountain and careening across a wire rope, it is definitely made easier by the fact that the initial drop is only about two metres, so by the time the gulley really opens up, you are having too much fun to care about the drop! We hooked up the GoPro on Wayne’s helmet to capture our first leap, and enjoyed it so much we gave it another go on Susie’s helmet. The footage (and the journey across) was fantastic! We would highly recommend it to anybody, and they do provide harnesses to cater for most ages and sizes.
With a little time left to work up more of an appetite, we were shown the outdoor year-round toboggan/tube slide. Made with moulded plastic (which is extremely solid despite how it sounds), you simply park your bottom in the middle of a large rubber tube, hang your legs over the side, grip the handles and prepare yourself for an incredible loop down the hill. Going round in circles is virtually guaranteed, which only adds to the fun, and numerous runs were made by our entire group before we settled down to a packed lunch from Black Spur Inn.
Lake Mountain Alpine Resort
1071 Lake Mountain Rd, Marysville
Phone: (03) 5957 7201
Wayne was particularly looking forward to our early afternoon trip to the Buxton Trout and Salmon Farm. Australia’s first trout farm, and operating for over 50 years, the ponds here are also sustained by the water from Steavenson Falls. Current owners Mitch and Deb have been there since 1988, and offered the following facts about the 5-acre property:
– It is entirely self-sufficient. They do all their own breeding, hatching, growing and processing.
– They distribute to restaurants and specialty stores all over Australia.
– Their top products are Mountain Ash Smoked Trout and Hand-milked Caviar.
– Up to one million rainbow trout, brown trout and salmon eggs are hatched each year.
– Approximately 80 tonnes of fish are grown each year.
– They have a variety of ponds guaranteed to suit every age, experience level and budget, including large trout (500g -4kg), medium trout (300g-500g), Atlantic salmon (2kg-5kg) and a challenge lake (lightly stocked).
The staff were more than happy to clean Wayne’s catch, which was cooked up on the BBQ while the rest of our group fished, and then everybody dug in. All agreed it was delicious and simply melted off the bone. Even if you aren’t into fishing, it’s fascinating to watch the process and see just where some of Australia’s favourite seafood comes from.
Buxton Trout and Salmon Farm
2118 Maroondah Highway, Buxton
Phone: (03) 5774 7370
Our accommodation for the night was now ready at the Tower Motel. We were really blown away by the quality and comfort of the rooms, as well as the extras that had been put into the property by the owners. A former motel room on the ground floor next to reception had been turned into a 12-seater bar/function room, complete with TV and fridge stocked with drinks. Called the Red Room, it is the perfect place for a group to catch up in the afternoon or evening over a drink and just relax, and is a feature we have not seen in any motel we’ve ever stayed in. Added to this is the private courtyard (formerly a garage) just off the outdoor dining, perfect for an afternoon reading or just enjoying the quiet nature surroundings. The owner was extremely warm and welcoming, and explained the history of the motel as well as future renovating and construction plans, which will see a new front reception and lounge bar complete with piano finalised in 2014. We promised to return to see it, as the plans look fantastic.
33 Murchison St, Marysville Vic 3779
Phone: (03) 5963 3225
While the rest of the group had their free time to explore the town, we made our way to Moondani Accommodation and Spa for our private massages. Moondani, which means ‘Embrace’, is a luxury getaway perfect for romantic retreats, skiing holidays, conference accommodation or just time away with friends. They offer in-house spa treatments using Li’tya Australian native aromatic oils and skin care to rejuvenate, harmonise or detoxify – and we certainly left their feeling rejuvenated!
Moondani Accommodation and Spa
47 Kings Road, Marysville Vic 3779
There are few places we can think off that offer dinner services as well as return transfers! But that’s exactly what was on offer from Black Spur Inn where we had dinner. About a 15-minute drive out of Marysville, the Inn has been owned by the Kennedy family since 2003, and their hard work put into renovating the property have brought it back to its hay day of being a stopover for weary travellers on their way to the Goldfields, Marysville and beyond. The restaurant itself is a stunning venue for weddings, parties and reunions, with a large glass wall looking out to the private, tropical gardens beyond. We decided to opt for the following from the menu:
Deconstructed Garlic Bruschetta with Olive Tapenade and Goats Cheese Sphere
Trout Bruschetta on Sourdough with Buxton Smoked Trout, Horseradish Cream and Semi Dried Tomato
Beetroot, Feta & Ricotta Ravioli tossed with Roasted Vegetables, Napoli Sauce, and finished with Sour Cream and Parmesan
Fettucine with Creamy White Wine Sauce, Chicken and Avocado
Affogato with Tia Maria and Vanilla Ice Cream
White Chocolate and Blueberry Spring Rolls with Berry Dipping Sauce
We enjoyed every single bite of our dinner, but the highlight – and the best dessert we have ever eaten without a doubt – was the White Chocolate and Blueberry Spring Rolls. If heaven were a dessert, this would be it. We would take a trip out to the Inn just for this dessert alone, and whether you’re absolutely stuffed and think you can’t possibly fit another thing in, this dessert is one you simply have to try. Words truly can’t do it justice, and it’s making mouths water now just at the thought of it…
Black Spur Inn
436 Maroondah Highway, Narbethong
Phone: (03) 5963 7121
After a tour through the Inn and some of it’s newly renovated rooms, which also looked out over the gardens, our action-packed day ended with a bus trip back to the Motel, driven by none other than the Manager himself.