It’s one of the quaintest and do-able road trips from Melbourne, one full of adventure any way you like it: the town’s surrounds are a paradise for walkers, foodies or market shoppers. Here’s what you can squeeze into 48 hours…
Early morning: Head north-east out of Melbourne along the Maroondah Highway, toward Healesville, and then navigate the delightfully winding, sometimes misty roads of the Black Spur. Take time to pull over and marvel at the dense, tall forest of tree ferns and Mountains Ash, the world’s tallest flowering tree. Takes around 90 minutes but plan more for stops.
Check in at the new, contemporary styled Vibe Hotel on Murchison Street, Marysville’s main thoroughfare.
Stroll down Murchison Street to the Tourist Information Centre, where you can learn about Marysville’s honeymoon haven past and be humbled by its modern history, and its rebirth after the tragic Black Saturday bushfires of 2009. Get directions to one of the plethora of forest trails or lookouts close to town. Stevenson Falls, Tree Fern Gully and Keppel Lookout are all easy-going and highlight rich.
Lunch at one of the main street options: Fragas Cafe does coffee Big-City style and a sublime (locally) smoked trout baguette. Marysville Patisserie throws up a wicked selection of ever-changing homemade cakes and fudge.
Something completely different? Walk the short distance to Bruno Torfs’ Art and Sculpture Garden. Bruno’s surreal and sometimes challenging works are dotted throughout a verdant patch of rainforest his gallery’s backyard.
Next, stock up on some old school sweets at Marysville Lolly Shop for your lazy afternoon drive up to Lake Mountain Resort (20km). It’s one of the most scenic alpine drives in Australia and there’s plenty of adventure to be had once you’re there (including tobogganing and cross country skiing in winter).
Pampering time: Return to Vibe for your (pre-booked) early evening ‘Rescue Ritual’ treatment at The Spa, followed by a hearty fill of (locally sourced) rustic modern Australian at Radius Bar & Grill.
Sleep in and then head to a fresh breakfast in the Radius Bar & Grill.
Hunt for country curios and luscious local produce at Marysville Community Market (second and fourth Sundays of the month), one of the Yarra Valley’s most popular flea markets.
Road trip time: Families should head north towards the town of Buxton and barbecue your lunch (once you catch it in the ponds) at Mitch MacRae’s Buxton Trout & Salmon Farm (12km). Maybe take home some hand-milked caviar. Head to Buxton Ridge Winery’s cellar door (sample the sparkling pinot noir) or continue on the Yarra Wine Trail, with a local lunch at one of the wineries.
The slow-road home options:
1. The with-kids option: Stop at Healesville Sanctuary to spot the best of the Australian menagerie, be they platypus or wombats. Amble along the sanctuary’s nature trails for some bird watching (around 1000 species to be spotted).
2. Stock up on some farm fresh produce at the random farm gate stalls on the way or appreciate the best of Yarra Valley produce along some of 10 stops of the ‘Coldstream Trail’. Sample cheese at Yarra Valley Dairy or have a bite to eat at Stones of the Yarra Valley (check weekend opening time first).