Situated in stunning south Gippsland, at the intersection of the Strzelecki Highway and the scenic Grand Ridge Road, just a short 2 hours drive East of Melbourne, the picturesque country town of Mirboo North sits high on the range. One of two well known "Mural Towns" in country Victoria, driving through the township is a delight. I felt like a primary school kid, dashing from one mural to the next with great excitement and my camera almost went into overload.
Murals depicting our pioneering days along with a picnic scene on the wall of the Strzelecki Bakery and an interesting fašade to the Dwyer's Commercial Hotel building, displayed the diversity of wall paintings in this great little town.
On the wall of the Mirboo North garage, stands an early model Holden (FX) beside a very interesting petrol pump and ironically, a Ford sign. Among these nostalgic scenes is a painting of a biplane, soaring towards the clouds.
However, my favourite depiction of the lifestyle of our early days is to be found on the wall of the local IGA grocery store. It shows the work horse and its cart, the old fashioned scales and the customers buying their fruit and vegetables, the stored sacks of flour and the ever faithful, ever patient dog waiting for his master.
If you find that mural meandering has worked up quite a thirst, there's always the Australian owned Grand Ridge Brewery located in the old butter factory. Established in 1989 and recently renovated, it's open from 11am for beer tastings and sales. To tour the brewery, you need to make an appointment. The attached restaurant offers lunch and dinner using local produce.
This boutique brewery, a recent winner of twelve (12) international awards won from 1195 entries submitted from 24 breweries in 34 different countries. The beer is really good. Among the winners were Natural Blonde, Yarra Valley Gold, Moonshine, Mirboo Midnight, Hatlifter Stout and several wet hopped oatmeal ales. So maybe popping in to slake your thirst before more wanderings is a great idea.
If you time your trip on the right Sunday (I didn't so sorry, no photos), you will catch the monthly Country Market (last Sunday in the month). However, there's more to this fascinating town than just murals, markets and beer. You can tour a working snail farm and then grab a bite to eat at the Cafe Escargot. They have a wide selection of foods catering for lunch and dinner. Don't leave this interesting place without wandering through the Healing Magnetic Factory and Classy Beads' beautiful designs.
Just 4km South of the town on top of the range you'll find Alternative View Alpacas. During the 7 years of operation, the farm has produced several supreme champions. Drop in and take a look.
After all this wonderful eating and sightseeing, you may be in the market for a bit of a walk. North on the Strzelecki Highway, you'll find signage to the Lyrebird Walk (3.2kms) and a picnic area. From here there's an easy 90 minute bush walk through the eucalypts, hardwoods and ferns passing beside open farmland and picnic spots by the river. If you take the shorter route, just a little further along you'll come across Coral Fern Gully which will take you back to the car park.
The walk does continue though for the more energetic among you and seating is provided along the track to provide for those wonderfully quiet moments in the bush. You're likely to spot a lyrebird and it just might mimic his fellow bush dwellers for you. There are usually plenty of sightings of kookaburras, crimson rosellas and yellow-tailed black cockatoos in the stringybark, silvertop and blackwood trees or fossicking amongst the banksias and ferns. There's a good chance that you'll spot a koala, wombat or a wallaby or maybe even an echidna, a glider or a possum, although most of these animals are nocturnal. For the serious hiker, you can walk, jog or cycle along the 13km Grand Ridge Rail Trail.
There were still several other places of interest but after a quick coffee at Nanna's Cupboard, we had to be on our way. So you've probably gathered by now that there is something for everyone in Mirboo North. Plan to drop in and experience it for yourself.