The Warburton Valley and Marysville

During the long AFL final weekend, it was easy and blissful enough to pack up some things and do a drive eastwards towards Warburton and Marysville for the great outdoors while many stayed in Melbourne clad in yellow and black.

The Yarra Valley touring map is a good indicator of what’s worth seeing, though I was more interested first and foremost, in what the walks were.

Skirting the Yarra Valley – I figured it was best to do the hard walks and all first before hunkering down with gourmet food and wine – and heading to Marysville via East Warburton (on the C511/C513), the drive through Warburton began peacefully enough though it started to become clear that it was a race to complete as many walks as we could before a cold front promising rain and cold wind was bound to pass through some time in the early afternoon and evening.

There were more we could have accomplished but this was generally what we covered:

1. The Warburton township loop

An easy, pretty trail that loops around town as the name suggests, by the banks of the Yarra. Go for 5km, or if you’re brave, for 16km.

2. Mt. Donna Buang: 10 mile turntable to summit

I hesitate to call Donna Buang a mountain, but it is the considered one in the southern reaches of the Victorian Alps of the Great Dividing Range with an elevation of 1250m, high enough (and close enough to Melbourne) that it can get some snow in the winter months. Get to the 21-m high lookout tower at Donna Buang for a view of Melbourne and the Yarra Valley before trying the Grade 2 (I found this oddly steeper than the Grade 3 Keppel Falls hiking trail) 10-Mile turntable hike to the car park and back up again.

3. The Redwood Forest

Planted in the 1930s after the original eucalypt forest was cleared as part of a scientific study, the small patch of the redwood forest magically comes into view after driving through rough, pot-holey unsealed road. It’s awe-inspiring indeed, taking fairy-tale-esque sinister menace when the sky darkens and the wind blows through. But what started as a study of the Californian Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens), in recent memory the trees seem to exist solely for instagrammers’ bragging rights.

That was as much as we could do before it was time to get to Marysville via the C511 (aka Reefton Spur) and C513 – both mountainous, curvy roads less famous than the Black Spur on the other side of the mountain. Tricky to drive, somewhat technical, but beautiful in and out.

I understood the appeal of Marysville the moment we turned up along the beautiful tree-lined main road that heads through and out of the tiny town. It’s got the prettiest birds making a nuisance of themselves as well, but what really stood out was the sheer resilience of the townfolk and nature as Marysville rose out of its ashes like a phoenix after the Black Saturday fires in 2009.

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