26-28 February: Marysville – recovery and regeneration

Author: Mr A

Location: Marysville, Victoria

We returned to collect our caravan from its temporary home in Marysville and decided to stay a couple of days and have a look around this little town nestled in the foothills of the Victorian High Country.

One of the resident King Parrots – they find plenty of food in the trees around the property

For our international readers, and a reminder to locals, I need to explain that this town was almost totally destroyed by bushfires 10 years ago, on a hot and windy February day known as Black Saturday. The summary would be that 173 people lost their lives as a massive firestorm engulfed this town and several others in this heavily forested area. I can’t and won’t describe the horror that ensued, enough has been said and our impression was after 10 years the residents of this town want to move on and look forwards not backwards.

A very moving memorial

Over $400 million was donated from public and private funds. The town has been almost completely rebuilt. Children’s laughter once again fills the streets as they walk to their newly built school…although chillingly I heard one child impersonating the bushfire siren that regularly is tested in the town, too young to know the potential disaster that alarm could signify.

The new architect designed police station

It is a fabulous little community from what we experienced. Everyone was super friendly and keen to promote the town and what it offers. Surrounded by hills, every direction you look is just so picturesque. We picked up a walks leaflet and were off on one of the many trails that start right in the town centre. This one led up to a waterfall that is one of the highest in Victoria.

Admiring Steavenson Falls – five cascades with a total descent of 122 metres
The final cascade of Steavenson Falls drops more than 21 metres
Mr & Mrs A

We also explored some tracks on our bikes, following the Tree Fern Gully Trail up to Yellow Dog Road and back, providing us with some gorgeous dawn views of the mountain ash and gum forests.

The sun just peeps over the hills to light up the bush – looking quite sculptural with the bleached dead trees rising above the new green growth
Early morning shadows
Surprisingly fresh first thing in the morning!

Another hike took us out to Keppel Falls, also picturesque

We followed the Taggerty River upstream to reach these falls
The evening sun lighting up the bush behind Mrs A
Driving off back to the Zone, the forest lit up by the setting sun

We could have easily spent a few weeks here and just scratched the surface. There’s a pub serving great food, a bakery, multiple cafes, a small supermarket, everything the visitor would need.

Come and spend some money here and support this community who have faced so much and have rebuilt a vibrant new town.

24-26 February: Our Melburnian adventures continue

Author: Mrs A

Location: Melbourne & Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

Sunday began with a visit to South Melbourne Market to gather supplies for the evening’s dinner. If you’ve been following our adventures for a while you will know Mr A and I love a good market, and this was no exception. So much choice available, and soon we had the ingredients for a feast.

Seafood and sausages ready for the evening’s BBQ

We dropped off our supplies at the apartment and then headed off on our next adventure. This time we were headed out of town to the Mornington Peninsula to Point Leo to do a bit of coastal walking.

It was just over an hour’s driving, amazing us how quickly the buildings of the city disappeared, replaced by farmland and forest. Point Leo Beach was quiet and full of bird life, with views out to Phillip Island and beyond that (out of sight) towards Tasmania.

Mark and Owen strolling along the waterfront
One of many white faced herons fishing in the low tide rock pools
Boat launching at Point Leo
Restricted ourselves to apples for lunch in anticipation of our evening feast!

After walking about 9km we called into one of the many breweries that have popped up on the peninsula for a cold beverage (apple juice for me at least!) and then drove over the other side of the peninsula to admire the view back towards Melbourne.

Arthur’s Seat where cable cars offer an eagle’s eye view of the coast
Looking south down the peninsula towards Portsea

From here, we returned to Melbourne for our feast of oysters, BBQ tuna, sausages, roasted sweet potato and a choice of salads. Just delicious. What a great day out.

Monday again was bright and sunny, and with temperatures predicted to soar into the mid to late 30s we decided to make the most of the cooler morning and head off for a cycle. Owen had to go to work, so we borrowed a couple of bikes. Unfortunately the brakes seized on the bike Mark borrowed, so we delivered it to a repair shop and hired one instead.

Mr A’s seat is feeling a little hard at this point!
The city’s skyscrapers behind me seem incongruous to our surroundings

First of all, we cycled down to Acland Street to catch up with an old colleague of Mark’s for a cup of tea. From there we rode down to the waterfront and followed the cycle path along. I just love being by the coast – the sense of space afforded by the water is so calming, and the freedom of riding on dedicated paths away from traffic is second to none.

We clocked up about 20km all up, much faster in one direction with the wind at our backs! Our destination was the Brighton Beach Bathing Boxes – wooden changing huts that have been here since the 1900s.One of these huts (which have no power or running water) sold last year for almost $340,000, and they attract an annual fee of nearly $900 plus council rates. Crazy!

Our day concluded with dumplings from a local restaurant and admiring the night view one last time from the rooftop.

Owen’s apartment block has fabulous views over to the city
The lake in Albert Park offers some fabulous reflections

Tuesday was a cooler day and we decided to jump back on the bikes and explore in the opposite direction.

We rode down to the port where cruise ships come in and the jumping on/off point for the Spirit of Tasmania. In our ever changing plans, we are thinking that maybe later on this year we will be boarding this ship to head over to explore Tasmania over Christmas.From here, we cycled down to Princes Pier, restored and renovated in recent years.This is the second largest timber pier in Australia, and the 380 metres of turpentine piles left at the end of the pier represent the extent of the original structure, making for a unique sculptural view.From here we rode back through Albert Park and off to find somewhere for lunch.

Being dairy-intolerant I was excited to try my first dairy-free Magnum – delicious!

Before long it was time to pack up all our things and head back out to Marysville.

We’re so grateful to Owen for driving four hours after a long day at work on two occasions within a week to escort us to and from Marysville and for being such a gracious host. The past five days in Melbourne have given us a real taste of what it’s like to live here. The eclectic mix of people, shops, bars and cafes in St Kilda offer a variety of entertainment options alongside the safe cycle network and easy escape from the city.

Melbourne, we’ve had a fabulous visit and hope one day we will return…back to the slower country life now!

21-23 February: Mooching around Marvellous Melbourne

Author: Mrs A

Location: Marysville and Melbourne, Victoria

Thursday morning saw us pack up and head off on our way south through Victoria. Beautiful scenery guided us along our way, and soon we were feeling peckish.

Anyone who has ever watched the Australian cult film ‘The Castle’ will have heard of Bonnie Doon, a village on the banks of Lake Eildon. ‘How’s the serenity?’ Mr A couldn’t resist asking as we pulled up for lunch.Soon we were off on the road again, heading towards Marysville. Marysville is literally a town which has risen from the ashes, and as we drove through spectacular woodland you could not believe the horrors of the fires that shot through here a decade ago. Over 90% of the town’s buildings were destroyed and 45 people killed. I can remember sobbing as I watched the news and saw the devastation to human and wildlife habitats and lives.

Today Marysville looks vibrant and modern, particularly the architect designed home of our hosts Terry and Sharen at Dalyrymples Guest Cottages, fellow Zone caravan owners who had invited us to park up at their property for a few days while we head into Melbourne. They welcomed us into their home for a cup of tea once we were parked up, and told us the story of how the community had stuck together and revitalised the town post the fires. We’re looking forward to exploring the area further when we return from Melbourne.

Our friend Owen drove up the two hours from Melbourne after he had finished work, and after a delicious meal in the local pub, loaded the three of us into his car, and drove us back to his apartment in St Kilda.

Friday saw Mr A and I negotiate the tram into the city, a fairly painless experience. There we did a little shopping before lunch, Mr A buying a new sling bag from his favourite luggage store, Crumpler, and I found some sandals that are both pretty and comfortable for strolling around all day in at The Walking Company.

We had a great afternoon exploring, then returned to St Kilda, and Miss Tassie, the most adaptable cat in the world. She was enjoying her new Melbourne pad, welcoming the sunshine and comfortable balcony.Owen returned from work early evening, and took us for a spin around the Albert Park Grand Prix track in his Mercedes AMG GT R (correct me if I’m wrong!) – a great ride…

Dinner that night was at a local Japanese Misuzu’s in Albert Park – absolutely delicious food and not a grain of rice to be seen. Highly recommended. Mr A and Owen continued the evening with cheese and wine at a local bar…I still am in need of my early nights post op and retired to the apartment.

Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny, and after the boys had consumed their recovery egg and bacon rolls we set off to explore the delights of St Kilda. First along the waterfront of Port Phillip Bay……and then up into the bustling Acland Street. What a great atmosphere – plenty of interesting boutique shops and an eclectic variety of eateries and bars. Simply people watching over a cup of tea or coffee would be a great way to spend an hour here.

I then left Mark and Owen to head to a pub to meet up with an old friend, Dirk, while I went back to the waterfront to meet up with three strangers who belong to the idiopathic subglottic stenosis support group I run. Allison, Jo and Leanne turned out to be lovely ladies and it was fabulous as always to compare experiences and meet rare people who have gone through similar things to me.

Saturday night, Owen had a pre-booked (six months in advance!) dinner with some friends at one of the world’s top restaurants, Attica, leaving Mark and I to our own devices. We had dinner at a local Indian restaurant, Babu Ji. The food was delicious (Pani Puri, Aloo Baingan and Fish Moilee) but it was a shame about the ambience of the restaurant. With concrete floors, walls and ceiling, the sound was deafening and we could hardly hear one another talk!

We returned to the apartment to watch the sun set from the rooftop pool before heading to bed. Melbourne is certainly putting on the fabulous weather for us!