Freelance Writer and Media Student. Check out my blog at https://stephanieriordan.wordpress.com
Published June 4th 2014
Marysville, a town struck by tragedy just over five years ago emerges from the ashes to become a town well worth visiting. It is an hour and a half drive from Melbourne so it is quite easy to make a day trip down there. But beware! Roads headed towards Marysville are quite windy so I would not recommend taking that annoying friend prone to carsickness.
Luckily, that did not apply for anyone on this trip and we were more concerned about turning a corner too fast around a bend and running the car down the treacherous hills. Whilst overcoming the fear of death, I could not help but notice the green blanket of trees and shrubbery that surrounded us.
The trees towered higher than I could see out of the windows and covered so much of the sky that I had to use the car's headlights. It is very hard to believe that this place was so engulfed by dry heat and bushfires because early June it feels like we were driving through lush rainforest.
I went at an interesting time of year because judging by the multiple ski hire shops in this small town, the place would usually be busy with snow-enthusiasts. The rain seems to keep the people inside, if in fact people actually inhabit this small town.
From the street I could not see a single person walking around and it was a rare occasion to see a car drive past. The dead street seemed to hold an eerie atmosphere especially with the fog-covered mountains surrounding it. But once I'd stepped inside the oversized country café it seemed that there were at least some inhabitants.
From what little I saw of the people, it seems that they are a friendly community. A birth announcement on the front of a gift shop suggested that the community is close. Maybe on sunny days when people actually leave their houses this might become more apparent.
Now if you are into old-style lolly shops, which I of course am, then you must stop by Uncle Fred and Aunty Val's Lolly Shop. With all sorts of hard-boiled lollies and chocolates, it becomes difficult to stay calm and act at all like an adult. I felt like a little kid in a candy store. Despite the buildings in the town being relatively new, there is still a quaintness that seems exclusive to Australian country towns.
So after lunch we left the town centre to go and explore one of the natural attractions of Marysville, Steveanson's Falls. It is just a couple of kilometres down the road and then a 350 metre walk to the viewing platform. Finding a park was no problem with my car being the only one there. It was peaceful not having other people around.
There was a sense of isolation and somewhat containment, as it seemed the fog contained us from all around. It sat atop the trees in the distance so that it was difficult to tell how far they stretched for. The rain itself was a light spray that I could have mistaken for the waterfall and it was not until I had been walking for a few minutes that I realized how completely and utterly drenched I was by the mist. There was a sign indicating no swimming, but jumping into the river hardly seemed necessary as my jumper retained so much of the moisture around me.
Finally, a humble attraction that was the perfect ending to this adventure was a wander through Bruno's Art and Sculpture Gardens. With 107 sculptures hiding amongst the greenery, it is very easy to spend close to an hour in this recovered garden. Something that amazed me about this country town was their faith in people's honesty.
At the entrance to the garden is a small box with the prices ($7.50 for adults and $5 for children). With this total trust in its tourists I was more than happy to offer my money. Here, have my $7.50 sweet town people. As I walked past the petrol station I noticed that they did not have someone sitting there to make sure that you paid. You just filled up and paid through an eftpos machine.
It was difficult to believe that only five years ago the garden was nothing but a few charred statues and ash. The owner, whom I can only assume was Bruno, told us about how they had to replant the entire garden and put back together some of the statues that had become victims to the blaze.
Around every turn a little creature would emerge from the trees and the bushes. But what I found most intriguing were the pictures of the garden just after the fateful Black Saturday. It was very surreal to see these solemn statues stand tall amongst such desolation. I think that what has become of the garden today is very symbolic of the entire town, rebuilding itself from the ashes, and after five years, finally blooming once again.