One of the first places I went to when visiting Melbourne was the town of Mansfield and its surroundings. I only heard about it because I have a friend who works there, and I want people to know more about this amazing area of Victoria.
Located not to far away from Melbourne, about a 2 to 3 hours drive, the little town of Mansfield is surrounded by farmlands and mountain forests. The area has beautiful sceneries which shouldn't be missed.
The town centre is quite small but don't let that stop you from walking through. It is a historical place, full of historical buildings dating back to the gold mining times. Mansfield is considered as a tourist town now, although you don't hear much about it. You would be surprised how many things you can do in such a small town. Events, markets, cafés, and bars in the town centre will satisfy the tourists. Mansfield also has a wide range of accommodation to satisfy everyone's budget, from resorts and hotels to caravan parks and farm stays, you name it.
My favourite place in town though, was the Mansfield Zoo. Do not miss it for anything. Located out of the town centre, (you will need to ask around for directions), is the most natural zoo I've ever seen.
If you have seen the movie 'We Bought a Zoo', well that's exactly what happened and that's exactly what it feels like. With only a small entry, Mansfield Zoo is a little hidden paradise for these animals, extended over kilometres of stunning parkland. Mansfield Zoo houses native animals as well as animals from around the world.
Meet the family who lives on location and takes care of the animals every day. They are very kind and loving people. As you walk through the zoo, you will notice that some animals will wander around you, because you are in their habitat. Not all of them are in cages, actually most of them wander around. They recently added two great white lions to the zoo, and they are quite amazing creatures.
You can hand feed many of the animals and for the more adventurous type, you can even stay the night in a swag amongst the deer, kangaroos and the sounds of the other animals around.
After a hot day at the zoo, head down to the river or Lake Eildon and enjoy the refreshing water. If you try to look around a bit, you might find less touristic areas and enjoy a peaceful picnic by the lake. Maybe find the area we found, which was a little stream with a nice swimming spot and with a rope for more fun.
Following the road south-east of Lake Eildon, you will find the towns of Jamieson and Howqua, which are also close by and very famous spots for visitors as it is the town of 'Jim Craig' the famous man from The Man from Snowy River.
Many tourists stop in Mansfield and its surroundings on their way to Mount Buller. Being a ski resort and the closest one around Melbourne, you can imagine how many people head there every year.
About an hour drive from Mansfield, at a height of about 1800 meters, stands the mountain of Mount Buller. Mount Buller is obviously great as a ski resort but it is also perfect for a nice summer escape. Although it can get really hot down in Mansfield, on the top of Mount Buller you will get a nice breath of fresh air.
Whether you're coming for a day or taking a longer stay, you can have a walk to the summit and maybe enjoy a nice picnic. You will feel as if you're on top of the world, or at least Melbourne. You'll have the most spectacular view of the area up there, combined with a nice fresh temperature. Wait for the night to fall and appreciate the amazing night sky and view of the towns far away in the distance.
Mount Buller village also has its own range of restaurants and accommodations, where you can enjoy local food and the mountain way of life. There's also a lot of events up at Mount Buller, such as food and wine festivals, mountain biking, skiing in winter, Easter events and much more.
Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway from the city, or an exciting adventurous weekend, Mount Buller has everything to suit different styles and budget.