This is already proving to be one of the hardest blogs I’ve written so far. Marysville…… such an amazing, distinctive and historical spot, nestled among some of Victorias most pristine rainforest. A small town with the most amazing atmosphere regardless if its winter, where the town acts as the gateway to Lake Mountain Ski resort, or summer, where adventurers, hikers, motorbike riders or four wheel drivers stop for fuel, a meal at the bakery or to just explore the towns many nooks and crannies. This all changed on February 7th, 2009. A wall of flames reaching at least 100 meters high raced up the valley from Narbethong where it had already destroyed 95% of the towns houses and hit Marysville head on.
A report from the inquiry states “Afterwards, a police sergeant said that the main street in Marysville had been destroyed: “The motel at one end of it partially exists. The bakery has survived. Don’t ask me how. Everything else is just nuked.” Reports on 11 February estimated that around 100 of the town’s population of approximately 500 had believed to have perished, and that only “a dozen” buildings were left. Premier Brumby described the situation: “There’s no activity, there’s no people, there’s no buildings, there’s no birds, there’s no animals, everything’s just gone.”
The resilience of the people of Marysville, the will to survive, and the pure determination to look at the destruction in front of them and say “we will rebuild, life goes on” is evident in the continuation of what was, becoming what is, today.
I’ve been to Marysville many times. Its one of my favourite getaways, an escape from suburban life, a place to recharge, step back and take count of what really matters in life. Two weeks after the fires tore through, a group of motorcycle enthusiasts, myself included, passed by what i can only describe as the after math of an atomic bomb. Apparently the heat on the ground was in excess of 1000 degrees celsius, it burnt the soil into a fine ash, there was no contours to the land, just an ocean of ash with the occasional black tree sticking up. It wasn’t until we reached Narbethong (just over the Black Spur) that the true devastation became apparent. Almost every driveway had police tape across it. There were no houses, just tangled piles of roofing iron and bricks. The bodies of the lost had yet to be recovered. There were just to many.
With tears rolling down my face, I rode silently, sadly, in reflection, all the way to our destination. The only surviving building on the main street of Marysville. The Bakery. Our aim was to ride out there with as many people as we could find, and throw as much money across the counter, in as many donation boxes as we could find. And we did.
Its hard to believe that that was 8 years ago. The sad memories of what was have been replaced with exciting, new memories as a new town grew out of the scorched earth. Marysville’s back. Sure, there are still signs of that fateful day but what’s here now is better. Stronger, made with the strength and backing of a nation that was touched by the events of a day in history.
Coming down the hill into Marysville, you can’t help but see the impressive Vibe Hotel. Designed to blend in with the beauty of the native scenery, it stands out as a symbol of comfort.
It welcomes you to Marysville, and like a handful of other lodgings within the town, provides a haven to wary travellers, adventurers or explorers who have made the trip over and around some of Victorias most beautiful mountain roads – all now regrown.
Walking into the foyer, you get the impression that this Hotel was meant to make an impact, statement if you will. Every detail has obviously been thought of, pictures of local fauna and art from local artists hang from the walls, comfortable couches, chairs and even the cowhide rugs show that this is going to be a great place to spend a few nights.
The Hotel delivers an experience that inspires and engages guests. The hotel has 101 rooms, a spa and wellbeing facility, as well as a conference centre and exhibition spaces equipped for up to 430 people.
Radius Bar & Grill features premium locally sourced Yarra Valley produce and offers a premium dining experience for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The night I was there, I was lucky enough to experience a storm, where not only did I have a most enjoyable 300g Steak, a selection of local wines, but I was exposed to the sweet smell of rain soaked eucalyptus trees and ferns but the occasional flash of lightening, lit up the sky giving me a glimpse of the Yarra Ranges National Park and distant Cathedral Ranges.
The rooms of the Vibe hotel are elegant yet stylish in a modern boutique way. The cleanliness and turn out are intended to impress the guest.
Room types include; Woodland, Woodland balcony, Woodland Family or 1 bedroom suite. The rooms have LCD TV, Wireless Internet, USB facilities, Minibar, Phone, Ironing facilities etc etc etc. I actually couldn’t find a fault in my room apart from the 5 minute fire alarm that sounded on my last day, and still was happy to know that it was a false alarm, and yet, the fire brigade was there minutes after it started to make sure all was ok.
For those who want to maintain their physique, or feel a little guilty about the nights indulgences (like I was), the hotel caters for everyone. The swimming pool overlooks the valley and the gym is in a room next to the pool. There’s also a sauna and tennis court available to guests.
There is ample car parking behind the Hotel, so even if you’ve got your caravan or boat in town there’s never going to be an issue finding a spot.
Visiting the Bakery 80 meters from the hotel lobby for breakfast is a given for me, knowing that even the exceptional complimentary breakfast I had on my first morning couldn’t match. Giving back to the community is always on the back of my mind and doing a little every time I visit makes me feel good.
The confectionary shop at the bottom of the main street is a must as well. They make their own confectionary on site, as well as offering sweets from all over the world. This however has proven to be a hazard to many Marysville visitors and locals, as the range available always has visitors leaving with at least 1 bag of goodies.
In addition to the Hotel facilities the Vibe also has a conference centre with floor space available for up to 480 guests. It offers state of the art audio visual technology and complimentary high speed internet. All catering is available from the Radius Bar and Grill. This venue is also available for Weddings.
So, coming to the end of this blog, I find myself torn between the history, devastation and modern and new side of Marysville. Having stayed at Vibe Hotel Marysville, I find myself coming to a conclusion. Out of the ashes, Marysville’s definitely been put back on the map. Its new, its improved, but yet, still populated with people that believe in good old fashioned country hospitality and tradition. Make sure when your there you take a little time to chat to the locals, learn their story, and take a little Marysville home with you.