From waterfalls to forests, from top class restaurants to catch-your-own fish farms, and from hikes and snow to luxury spas and hotels, Marysville, Victoria has it all. Reborn from the 2009 ashes, this little alpine town 2 hours from Melbourne is a must-visit.
Call it a gift or a curse, we love to cram as much into our trips away as possible. It can be exhausting but we do like to think we get as much out of the places we visit as possible – even if it’s just a weekender away somewhere local.
On our recent trip to Marysville in Victoria’s alpine region of the Great Dividing Range, we did quite a bit, but it seems like there’s still plenty for us to see and do. We love this part of Australia and we’ll definitely be back.
The feel of this town, which was so badly ravaged by the fires of 2009, is amazing. The strength of spirit in the people of Marysville to rebuild is remarkable, and to turn the town back into the thriving tourist destination it once was must have taken so much.
The result is an abundance of things to do and see in such a small area, but an area of such impressive natural beauty, it’s hard not to fall in love with this place.
Here are our 21 things to do in and around Marysville:
1. Go chasing waterfalls
The perfect combination of rivers and mountains makes the Marysville area amazing for waterfalls.
The closest to town is the Steavenson Falls. It’s also one of Victoria’s highest at 84m. You can get really close to the falls and the decked walk from the car park is an easy 10 minutes.
Otherwise, the nearby Keppel Falls, the Cumberland Falls and the Phantom Falls are also definitely worth checking out.
2. Catch your own fish & have a bbq
There are 2 fish farms in the area – the Marysville Trout and Salmon Farm and the Buxton Trout and Salmon Farm.
You can buy fresh fish or – as we did – some delicious pates and smoked fillets. But if you’ve got more time, you can hire rods and tackle, and catch your own dinner.
They’ll clean and gut the fish for you and away you go.
Even if you don’t want to catch your lunch, you can ask at the counter for a pot of pellets and walk around the ponds to feed the fish. They’re both beautifully maintained farms and it’s fun to see the fish jumping for the food.
3. The only place to stay – Vibe Hotel
This hotel is small enough for you to get really great personal service yet big enough for you to experience the luxury and facilities we look for in a romantic escape.
We slept perfectly, we ate supremely, we relaxed sublimely and we really got to know the area.
4. Go lolly loco at the Lolly Shop
From this farmhouse style building you can satisfy your sweet tooth with some amazing sugary morsels, but there’s more to this family-run firm than sweets.
They also sell some great little gifts, toys and souvenirs, and the locally baked bread and cakes they sell here are to absolutely die for.
If fact the hotel manager at the Vibe where we stayed let us into this little local secret and set out a quick lunch itinerary that he likes to follow.
Buy a ciabatta loaf from the Lolly Shop (get there early), buy some smoked trout from the Buxton Salmon and Trout Farm and drive up the mountain or into the forest for the perfect picnic. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
5. Hit the slopes at Lake Mountain Resort
During the winter months you have to pay to go into the resort. This is to pay for the snow machines they use to cover the slopes – it’s still too warm and low for much powder to fall here.
During the spring and summer, it’s free to come in. The views out across the Yarra Valley and the mountains are amazing.
If you do come here in the winter, it’s the perfect spot if you’re not a big skier or have kids that just want to play on toboggans.
6. Get a local’s view at Marysville Visitors Centre
With lots of information about places to eat, things to do and see, and to hear what Marysville’s like from a local’s perspective, you need to come here.
Put some time aside and get Reg or Mary to tell you a few yarns of what living in Marysville and the Yarra is like.
7. Drink in the region with a wine tasting
The Yarra Region boasts some amazing high altitude wines. You have to head southwest of Marysville to Healesville if you want to visit cellar doors. You’ll find the likes of Innocent Bystander, Oakridge and Rochford here.
But if you just want to try a bottle of the local good stuff, the range at Radius Bar and Grill is very good or the stock they have at Marysville Country Bakery is also excellent.
8. Picnics and hikes
There are so many walking trails to get you out and about in these parts. As we’ve mentioned, the walk to Steavenson Falls is a good one.
Otherwise try trails like the Michaeldene Logging Trail, which follows alignments of the old logging trams through the forest to the Taggarty River.
The Cambarville Trail that loops from the picnic area and car park around to the Cumberland Falls is a harder walk. You’re rewarded with sights of enormous 85-metre tall 400-year-old ash forests and the waterfall itself.
9. Get in a round of golf
If you’re into a spot of whack-a-ball, the Marysville Golf and Bowls Club has one of the most scenic courses in Victoria.
If the 19th hole is more your scene, the clubhouse is the place to go. It’s a bit of a rarity as there are no pokey machines here.
10. Get a sense of history – visit the Phoenix Museum
For a very real insight into what it was like in Marysville during the 2009 fires that devastated the area, the Phoenix Museum is an amazing and incredibly heart-rending experience.
With accounts from locals who lived through the disaster, you really get a feeling of what tragedy this town has gone through. Some of the things you learn about in this museum will stay with you forever.
We highly recommend you go here – but don’t forget to pack tissues.
11. Chill out at The Spa at Marysville
Since my day at the Ikatan Balinese Day Spa in Noosa, I’ve become a bit of a fan of spas. The Spa at Marysville offers a few different packages and treatments.
Our couples massage was exactly what we needed to put us in a relaxed state of mind needed to get the most out of this beautiful area. The Spa is part of the Vibe Hotel in Marysville town centre.
12. Hang with the locals at the Bucky
If you’re looking for a meal that’s low-key and local, you can’t beat the Bucky – or the Buxton Hotel as outsiders call it. This place is about as homely as a pub can get – think open fires in the winter, outside seating in the summer.
The little kitchen serves up some good Aussie classics, and their wood fire pizzas are incredibly popular, and the bar as some local beers, ciders and wine worth a go.
13. Hit the road for some scenic drives
There are some excellent mountain roads up and around Marysville, so if you’re into hairpins, switchbacks and driving the bendy-windy, you’ll love this part of Victoria.
In particular, the Black Spur, which brings you right into Marysville from Melbourne, has to be one of the best drives in the country. With the towering forest trees all around you and the mountains looming and delving either side of the road, it feels like you’re in Jurassic Park more than regional Victoria.
It wouldn’t have surprised us if a T Rex had jumped out at us as we were driving along. The scenery is absolutely stunning.
14. Best meal in town at Radius
Being in the Yarra, there are lots of great eating spots nearby, but our meal in Radius Bar and Grill was superb.
We especially like the concept behind Radius; its name refers to the sourcing of the produce used in the restaurant. 85% of everything on your plate has come from within 100kms of Marysville.
The menu is exciting and enticing, and isn’t designed on price for profit. Instead it’s based on quality of ingredients and DOC.
15. Always room at the inn – Black Spur Inn
A little way out of Marysville is the Black Spur Inn. It’s a local icon and a historic landmark of the area. It’s been housing gold diggers, timber merchants and tourists since 1863.
A great spot for lunch or dinner.
16. Best view of the region at Keppel Lookout
Only a little way out of Marysville, the Keppel lookout is right above the town but gives you some amazing views out over the region right up to the escarpment and up to the mountains.
There are lots of lookouts in these parts but we think that the Keppel is the best.
Stick to the boardwalk or explore a bit further afield – there’s even a hiking trail that takes you all the way down to Steavenson Falls.
17. Buy some stretchy pants and visit the Marysville Patisserie
If fudge and cakes are your kind of disco, you can’t miss the Patisserie. We also bought their delicious coconut macaroons and a pack of choc chip shortbread biccies. Yum!
18. Buy local – great produce in the area
The Yarra Region is famous for its produce. From wine to honey, cheese to bread, keep your eye out for local producers or places that stock local stuff. You’ll definitely taste the difference.
19. Get into Marysville’s café culture
Marysville has a good range of cafés if you’re after a good coffee or a spot of lunch or brekkie. Radius Café, Elevation 123, Fraga’s Café and Marysville Country Bakery are all on the main street and are well worth checking out.
20. Meeting of the Waters at Buxton
One of the walks we’d like to have done but didn’t have chance is to the Meeting of the Waters. It’s an easy 600m walk from the car park through the rainforest to the point where two rivers – the Taggerty River and Whitehouse Creek – come together.
It’s a popular local spot and epitomises the area.
21. Hit the Coldstream Trail on the way to/from Melbourne
The 10 stops along the Coldstream Trail aim to showcase the amazing produce of the Yarra. We stopped in at a couple on our way back to Melbourne.
Our favourite was the Napoleone Brewery. It’s beautifully designed inside and out, and the taster flights of beers and ciders you can get at the bar are awesome.
Marysville and the Yarra Region really is an exceptional part of the Australian landscape. There’s so much to do, see and learn about here. We’ve got so much out of exploring this area.
When you go to Marysville, we’d also highly recommend you download the Visit Marysville phone app. It’s got lots more detail the area and its fascinating history. There are also audio tracks to guide you around walks and trails.
Have you been to Marysville? What’s your favourite part of regional Australia? Tell us in the comments!