Six reasons to visit Marysville

1. THE TOBOGGAN CUP

IF YOU'VE never seen a phalanx of five-year-olds dressed in bright snow gear and belting down a snow-covered hillside trying to out-toboggan each other, you should head to Lake Mountain next weekend for the annual Lake Mountain Toboggan Cup. It's a hilarious day for families, with events for all ages. On any day throughout the snow season (runs until last weekend in September), families head up to this mountain 30 kilometres off the Maroondah Highway to make snowmen, toboggan or gang up to throw snowballs at dad. It's worth learning to cross-country ski at Lake Mountain ski school just to check out the views of Melbourne from the Royston Trail, part of the 37-kilometre network of trails. Book a family package, which includes vehicle entry, toboggan hire and lunch for two adults and two children for $129, at lakemountainresort.com.au

2. KIDS' PARK

AT THE heart of Marysville, in Gallipoli Park, is a statue of young girl releasing a dove. Titled New Life, it captures the determination of the locals to rebuild the town after the 2009 Black Saturday fires. The park straddles the Steavenson River, which fills the air with the soothing sound of water on rocks. Big kids form a polite queue for the park's slightly challenging flying fox while little ones inevitably drench themselves in the water playground complete with hand pump, water auger and waterwheel. Next to the Visitors Information Centre, 11 Murchison Street, 5963 4567, marysvilletourism.com

3. STEAVENSON FALLS

NEW walking tracks, platforms and bridges bring you up close to the 122-metre drop of Steavenson Falls. The trails and falls are lit at night (until 11pm). The 2009 fires destroyed much of the mountain ash trees, which have since sprouted new shoots where they can. Where the trunks have died, iridescent yellow wood-eating fungus has taken over. The regenerated tree ferns stand out like thousands of bright-green prehistoric umbrellas. Tying this landscape together is the soothing leitmotif of falling water: cascading down the falls, from rivulets by walking trails, even from a mini waterfall in the car park. Three kilometres from Marysville.

4. FIRST FISH

MITCH MacRae, owner of the Buxton Trout Farm, still loves the look on the face of every child who comes in and catches a fish for the first time in his or her life. In ponds by the banks of the Acheron River, kids and grown-ups drop in baited hooks and soon they will have landed a rather decent-sized trout. Mitch will clean the fish for you and send you on your way. He also smokes fish on site and has a range of Atlantic salmon caviar.

Buxton Trout and Salmon Farm, 2118 Maroondah Highway, Buxton, daily 9am-5pm, $3 (includes rod hire and bait), $14.90kg trout and $24kg Atlantic salmon. Cleaning complimentary, 5774 7370

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5. GOOD FOOD

IF YOU catch a fish, the chef at the Black Spur Inn at Narbethong will cook it for you. Here you'll find good-value breakfast, lunch or dinner and it is on the way if you're heading to or from the snow (436 Maroondah Highway, Narbethong, daily 8am-9.30pm). In Marysville is Fraga's, a main-street cafe with a modern, slightly hippy decor and a hint of Spain on the menu (owner James Fraga's dad came from Galicia). Expect proper potato tortillas or even a serve of chorizo and jamon serrano. Other favourites include smoked trout and brie baguette, and home-made pot pie. 1/19 Murchison Street, 5963 3216, Mon-Fri 9am-4pm, Sat-Sun 9am-4.30pm

6. BUXTON RIDGE WINERY

IF YOU'VE been to Bordeaux, you might be familiar with clairet, a light-red rose´-style wine. The good folks at Buxton Ridge Winery harvest their pinot noir grapes, crush them and leave them on their skins for just a few hours to get enough colour to give the wine a pink blush. Their clairet is a light, fun luncheon wine and only available from their cellar door. 88 Seal Rock Road, Buxton, Sat-Sun 11am-4pm, by appointment other times, 0428 517 147

6reasons@richardcornish.com.au

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